Happy Fall! As the leaves start to turn color here in
England, marking another change of season, I am
reminded that change is all about leadership and
leadership is all about change. This issue provides
being a more open, intuitive, and creative leader in
the midst of all the changes and challenges you
|Your Questions Create Your World?
You probably recognize that the questions you ask
drive the answers you receive. Think, for example,
about the differences in answers received from
questions like "How can we drive shareholder value"
compared to "How can be best serve our
customers?" But do you also know
that your questions can shape your interactions with
others, your feelings, the
meaning you make of life, and even your results?
Consider the difference in
outcomes, for example, from a question, such as
"What's wrong?" as opposed to "What works?"
bother" vs. "What's possible?"
If questions are so important, how can we learn to
ask better ones? Here are three
points to remember:
1. Good questions challenge mental
models or blinders that often keep us from
seeing what's possible. (See April and June, 2006 for
more information on mental models.) Novel questions
new worlds of opportunity. For example,
asking the question "How can we optimize our car
rental business?" generates a different set of
answers -- a fairly limited set, in fact. But asking
"How can we optimize our transportation business?"
opens up all sorts of possibilities around expanding
into hourly contracts for other forms of
transportation, such as Zip-cars, bikes,
Segways, or scooters.
2. Related to the need to switch mental models is
for more innovation -- in process, products or
services. Most innovations
represent an answer to a new question, or to an old
question asked in a new way. To come up with some
unexpected perspectives, try asking a
question. For example, "What
haven't we thought of?" "What can we try?"
can we do with this?"
3. Since the questions we ask ourselves are
important in influencing our behavior and feelings, we
need to look at these internal questions as well.
happen to our openness to change and risk if we
switched from asking "What could I lose" to "What
can I learn?" Or, instead of asking "How could I do
such a stupid thing?" what about asking "What
can I get from this?"
Because questions are so critical, we need to
design ones that challenge assumptions, generate
answers, and widen the lens of "our perceptions of
what is possible." One of
the first steps in
developing good questioning skills is to learn to
"question our questions!" We can do this by asking,
- What do I want this question to accomplish?
- Is this question expansive, inspiring, and bold?
- Could this question lead to unforeseen, creative
- Does this question generate new learning?
Why not start building a portfolio of questions to open
up worlds and expand possibilities? Check
out my website for some wise questions to use when
facing the challenges of performance appraisal,
coaching, and problem solving.
|More Tips for Teams
Here are more tips for teams who want to come up
with better, more creative solutions and results.
While they may sound familiar, we can't be reminded
of them enough!
1. Keep going! Most
great ideas come after many ideas have been
generated. Leave time for the
team to explore lots of ideas that can contain the
kernel of the best solution.
2. Defer judgement! One of the
main reasons brainstorming "fails" is that
it's so much easier to
ideas than to keep building on them or generating
new ones. Hold off the critic until
all possibilities have been explored.
3. Solve the right problem.
Too often our assumptions and current mental
unconsciously cause us to see a problem in the same
old way so we end up
solving the wrong problem. Take the problem apart
and examine it from a variety of angles before
proceeding to solve it. Make sure you are asking lots
of tough questions! Remember that a problem
correctly stated is half solved.
4. Keep politics and personal issues out of the
idea selection process. Be sure to have an
objective analysis process, based on the project's
objectives and client needs. An objective process
keeps hierarchical, personality, or hidden conflict
from influencing your choices. Consider using
automated tools or an anonymous, written voting
|The Many Flavors of Intuition
My research and classroom conversations have
convinced me that intuition comes in many flavors.
Just as there is no
one right way to be creative, it turns out there is no
way to be intuitive!
Some people see intuition as synonymous with
inspiration, imagination, a "sixth sense," or an "inner
knowing." Others define it as the product of an
unconscious reservoir of expertise that is based on
years of experience.
In its appearance, intuition can be subtle. It can
from a dream or a "still, small voice." Or, it can be
more obvious and come in
the form of "a gut feeling," or "a warning experienced
as a "tingle up the spine" or some other bodily
sensation or feeling. One
workshop participant received intuitive messages
from her eyes. If
her right eye twitched, she knew it was a positive
idea or move. If the left one twitched, she did not
act on the impulse!
No matter what form your intuition takes, it is
to learn how it works for you and to
practice accessing it.
Facts are not always
available nor do we always have time to examine
them, even if they do exist, in our fast-paced,
ever changing, and complex world. Intuition is thus
becoming more and more critical as an aid to making
creative decisions and finding innovative
Look for a discussion
of "Intuition: Pros and Cons" in the next newsletter!
|Strategic Planning and the Eight Creative Talents
In the April 2006 newsletter we looked at strategic
from the perspective of how we see the world,
terms of specifics and details (sensing) that can
lead to a more
operational view, or from a
more conceptual perspective (intuiting).
In this issue, we look at strategic planning
decision-making perspective: whether we make
based on objective, quantitative criteria (thinking) or
more subjective, people-oriented, or
circumstantial basis (feeling).
When using our thinking
preferences (the Pilot and Inventor talents), we will
tend to look at strategic planning as a direction
setting exercise, in terms of defining goals,
objectives, and strategies. When we use our
preferences (the Harmonizer and Poet talents), we
may see the process as an exercise for setting a
vision to energize the
organization and defining organizational
Leaders using their Pilot and Harmonizer talents
will tend to want to see the plan in writing, with
clear action steps. Those
using their Poet and Inventor talents may be more
comfortable with seeing "strategy" as an emergent,
process, with little need for a written plan.
When preferring the Pilot talent, a leader may drive a
more traditional SWOT (strengths, weaknesses,
opportunities and threats)
analysis. Using the other talents may
cause leaders to see the major value of strategic
planning as coming from the important conversations
the future that it engenders.
Which talent is best? That's a trick question, of
course! When charting the future course of an
organization, leaders need to draw on all eight
creative talents to be sure they are balancing
planning with flexibility, quantitative goals with
plans to engage the hearts of employees, and broad
practical steps to ensure action.
|Workshop at New York City APT
Do you want to learn more about creativity, different
creative talents or styles, and the multiple forms of
creative results and contributions? Or do you want
to gain a deeper appreciation of the role that the
different creative talents play in decision-making,
problem solving and change management? On
Tuesday, October 17, 2006, I will be leading
a "Breakthrough Creativity" workshop at the New
York Association of
Psychological Type. Come learn more about
the "breakthrough creativity" approach and gain
hands-on experience with a tool to identify creative
strengths and areas of development for yourself and
|Meeting the Challenges of Corporate Entrepreneurship
Are you or your organization facing the challenges of
using your creativity to grow new business from
within? The October
issue of "Harvard Business Review" includes an
based on the research that Harvard Business School
professor David Garvin and I conducted at several
organizations, with many recommendations for
helping you succeed! It provides several important
suggestions for dealing with the often conflicting
challenges of creating new businesses.
|Do Sweat the Small Stuff
Read about Professor Teresa Amabile's
research on the team leader's role in driving
creativity. "Seemingly ordinary,
trivial, mundane, day-by-day things that leaders do
and say can have an enormous impact. My guess is
that a lot of leaders have very little sense of the
impact that they have."
Lessons from Scotland
While visiting the outer islands of Scotland in July, I
was struck by several examples of teamwork and
creativity. Two lessons stand out for dealing with
the challenges of being a leader:
The first was a lesson from watching a parade of
Pipe Bands in Portree, on the Isle of Skye. The
President of the Skye Band organization had
several comments that relate to leading creative
teams. In his words, it's the harmony that makes
the bands unique. To achieve this harmony, there is
constant feedback and open discussion with all
members commenting about issues that impact
performance. There are tools used to measure the
sound from each bagpipe. And lots of practice,
What are you doing as a leader to follow these good
practices on your team?
The second lesson came from the sheep that
islands. Their wool grows, they give it away (well, it
gets taken away when they are sheared!), and then
it serves practical purposes by providing for warm
clothing or is
woven into works of art. The sheep don't hold on to
this wonderful possession; they let it go and then
continue to produce more.
Too often we try to
hold on to ideas to claim them as our own. Instead
we need to learn from those Scottish sheep and let
go, with full knowledge that there are a lot more
ideas where the first ones came from!
"Curiosity and asking
penetrating questions are enduring qualities in the
--- Meg Armstrong, executive coach.
"Ideas won't keep. Something must be done about
-- Alfred North Whitehead
"The pull of creativity never ceases."
-- Polly Thayer Starr
"Intuition comes in many forms. It
communicates in different ways to each of us."
-Lynn Robinson, Intuition Coach
Breakthrough Creativity Products, Services
Consulting and facilitation services support
organizations in strategic planning, new business
creation, teambuilding, and leadership development.
Services include organizational, team and individual
assessments, through the use of proven diagnostics,
and ongoing support for leaders and teams.
Workshops that provide substantive material in an
interactive environment, focused on practical
application are also available. Sessions include:
* Becoming a More Creative Leader
* Developing the Strategic leader
* Building Team Talents with the Eight Creative
Because of their
modular design, workshops can be easily customized
meet each group's particular needs.
Curious about the symbols in the newsletter?
based on Australian aboriginal symbols depicting
change. The Breakthrough Creativity logo represents
the new perspectives a traveler brings to the
problems of others.
If you need new insights and
perspectives, let me know!