Lynne Levesque Consulting

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Winter 2004

Thanks to all of you who provided feedback on the past newsletter! I hope this new edition improves on the last one. I wish all of you the warmest blessings for the upcoming holiday spirit. May the new year bring joy, peace and prosperity to the world and to you.

in this issue
  • A Holiday Gift to Yourself
  • Managing for More Creative Results
  • Innovation and Change
  • Innovation, Change and Creativity
  • Innovation Study -- Participants Wanted!
  • Tips for Trainers using the Eight Creative Talents

  • Managing for More Creative Results

    (Adapted from "BREAKTHROUGH CREATIVITY: Achieving Top Performance with the Eight Creative Talents")

    Question: My team has two members who have a lot to offer, but I have a hard time getting them to speak up. They have incredible insights and are great problem solvers. What can I do to bring out more of their creative potential?

    Answer: Some teams have trouble getting people to be quiet in a meeting. However, those team leaders who have several members with preferences for what I call the "Inventor talent" have a different challenge. Individuals who have a preference for this talent are often extremely private, detached and introspective. They may also prefer to postpone action to the last minute. The team may often struggle to get them to participate on the team's schedule. Yet, the team needs the benefit of their creativity, which comes in the form of:

    * Unconventional models for analyzing and synthesizing facts and ideas

    * Unusual solutions to problems through objective, impartial analysis

    * Inventive ways to get around constraints

    * Insightful questions that cause paradigm shifts in perspective

    The team can learn to benefit from their input as well as from their inclination to reflect. Too often teams are quick to react or solve a problem with the first solution that appears. Instead, they often need to practice sitting back and reflecting before taking action. In other words, follow the lead of those preferring the Inventor talent!

    As team leader, you can set a tone for the team that will promote full participation of all team members. You can do this in several ways. One is to give all team members time to reflect and let their ideas incubate, even it means waiting a couple of days before a major decision is made. Another is to encourage those who prefer the Inventor talent to build their interpersonal, communication, and influence skills and to share their ideas with others. Having team members write their ideas out and share those ideas in pairs or breaking up the team into small groups to prepare short presentations are other helpful ways to build their confidence through taking small steps.

    Additional tips on managing those with a dominant Inventor talent can be found in Chapter 8 of "Breakthrough Creativity: Achieving Outstanding Results Using the Eight Creative Talents."

    Innovation and Change

    Innovation efforts always involve change, and altering ingrained habits is often overwhelmingly difficult. Sometimes the hardest part of innovation is the implementation.

    Recently, Harvard Business School Professor Mike Roberto and I published an HBS working paper, "Strategic Initiatives: Changing the Firm's DNA" on the research we conducted at a large national retail company ("Alpha Corporation"). We conducted this research because we know that managers often launch change initiatives with great fanfare, but find it very difficult to make the changes last. More often than not, employees dismiss the initiative as just another management fad and in a short period of time, processes and behaviors revert to their old, comfortable selves.

    However, Professor Roberto and I had a unique opportunity to study why some change initiatives take hold while others fail. In our in-depth comparison of two generations of a customer-satisfaction program at Alpha Corporation, we found 4 practices that led to demonstrable improvements and were catalysts for successful institutionalization of programmatic change efforts."

    The first two practices were chartering -- or defining the purpose of the initiative and the roles and responsibilities and boundaries of the team -- and learning -- or testing and refining ideas through the initiative's phases. The other two were mobilizing -- or using images and stories to engage people's hearts and minds -- and realigning -- or integrating new roles and work processes into the organization's measurement and compensation systems.

    As I work with one of my clients to implement a new enterprise-wide information system, we will be using this information to ensure broad acceptance of the system. And in the process, we plan to have lots of fun!

    Innovation, Change and Creativity

    Helping your team members recognize and develop their creative talents is actually another tool for enabling change. Why? That's because the benefits of being creative go beyond the ability to generate novel and useful results and solutions to organizational and personal challenges and problems.

    Creativity has other, perhaps even more wonderful benefits, although they are much less tangible. Rediscovering your creative talents builds your self-esteem. You feel better about yourself. And heightened self-esteem not only brings more creativity in turn, but it also builds your resilience. As you gain confidence in your creative talents, you'll tend to be more open to new perspectives, to be better able to come up with novel alternatives, and to be bold and thick-skinned as you weather the twists and turns of life.

    Developing your creative talents strengthens your capacity to be open, flexible, buoyant, to bend and bounce back and to adapt. It builds a positive attitude that you can deal with any of life's uncertainties and complexities as you change, grow and age. Seeing yourself as creative is thus vital for a healthy and productive life.

    So, when you are tapping into your team's creativity, remember you are not only releasing new insights and alternatives to tough problems. You are also helping your team members develop personal capabilities and new sources of energy to cope with change.

    Innovation Study -- Participants Wanted!

    Innovation -- or the ability of an organization to build on the creativity of its employees -- continues to be a vitally important and popular topic, both here in the United States as well as around the globe. Recent studies by Boston Consulting Group and PriceWaterhouseCoopers of over 600 executives revealed that top management put innovation in their top five priorities for 2004. At the same time, an Arthur D. Little study of 669 global executives found a very significant gap between what managers knew they had to do to derive business value from innovation and what they were actually doing to put that knowledge into practice. Building an innovative company thus continues to strategically challenge senior executives and to be an issue more often than not of implementation.

    In late 2003, I began my own study of innovation to better understand how some leaders are able to build the capability to maintain an innovative organization. This research led me to identify several critical practices that support a leader's objective to build more innovation into the fabric of an organization. Interestingly, my colleague Peter Schmidt in Germany and I have found in our consulting practices that leaders and their teams all have different ways of approaching these critical practices.

    Peter and I believe that these different approaches to innovation are attributable -- at least in part -- to personality preferences and patterns. These preferences and patterns can shape how leaders and their teams address the critical practices and can cause them at times, for example, to ignore some and stress others. In addition, these patterns -- in a leader or on a team -- will result in typical blocks and barriers that need to be addressed if an organization is to be sustainably innovative.

    We are now looking for individuals and teams who might be interested in participating in further research to help us elaborate this proposition. We expect the study to begin in Febuary, 2005. The study will involve completion of the Myers Briggs Type IndicatorŪ (MBTIŪ), a well validated and broadly used personality instrument, answering several questions to help identify personal approaches to innovation practices, and listening to feedback on the results. In exchange for this complimentary analysis and feedback, participants will be asked to provide stories that can be used in subsequent publications to help leaders build sustainably innovative organizations.

    All results and conversations will be treated as confidential. Participants will not be specifically cited. Individual quotes will be anonymous.

    Participation will provide new awareness of the impact of personality preferences on leadership styles and approaches to innovation. In addition the feedback can drive important conversations at subsequent team meetings around the impact of these personality preferences on a team's performance. Participants will also recieve diagnostics and action plans that result from the research.

    If you are interested in participating in the study or know of someone who might be interested, please contact me at

    Tips for Trainers using the Eight Creative Talents

    Once again, the workshops on Breakthrough Creativity at the International Leadership Association conference had standing room only! It was a great experience to share information on creativity and the talents with the participants. And once again, the issue of the patterns of the talents helped participants understand what could be getting in the way of reaching their creative best.

    Two particular patterns came up when individuals completed the "Breakthrough Creativity Profile" and found their favorite talents were both extraverted or both introverted.

    According to the Jungian theory on which the Breakthrough Creativity model is based, you need favorite talents in each of the orientations -- introverted and extraverted -- if you are going to make the most innovative decisions and come up with the most creative solutions to problems.

    So, a pattern of both favorite talents as introverted or extraverted can result in challenges. If your two favorite talents are introverted, for example, you might spend too much time in your internal, private world, processing what's happening. You might not be able to function productively in the external world or when working with others, if those two favorite talents are internally focused and overly developed. The world might not ever benefit from your creative contribution.

    On the other hand, if your two favorite talents are both extraverted talents, you may just react to what is happening in the world around you. If you don't have a balance to your external orientation to the world, you might never take time to reflect and process your observations. Creative solutions might be a series of responses to what's happening or to other people's ideas. You might not stop to ponder the meaning of what's happening or what you really believe.

    Thus, it is important to first recognize the challenge of such a pattern in yourself or in others. With more consciousness, you can then work to tap into talents outside your favorite ones to adds new perspectives and more flexibility to your creativity.

    Please feel free to send comments or questions to me at

    A Holiday Gift to Yourself

    There is perhaps no greater gift that you can give yourself than rediscovering your creativity and then sharing it with the world.

    Try not to get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Instead, plan to spend time reflecting on your own gifts and talents. You might want to think about the first step you can take to start this rediscovery journey.

    The journey towards reaching your creative potential is not always a simple one. Yet it is one well worth taking. Finding your creative talent and making creative contributions to the world are, according to Carl Jung, acts of "high courage flung in the face of life, the absolute affirmation of all that constitutes the individual."

    Jung believed that this journey is "a lifetime's task which is never completed; a journey upon which one sets out hopefully toward a destination at which one never arrives." Your challenge is to get started. Not long ago the writer Anna Quindlen quoted George Eliot, as once having said: "It is never too late to be what you might have been." Then Quindlen added: "It is never too early, either. And it will make all the difference in the world!"

    Should taking a first small step on this journey be one of your new year's resolutions? If you need help in taking that first step, let me know!

    Happy Holidays to you and your family and may you have a wonderful, very creative new year!

    For more information on identifying your creative talents, see ....
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