Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Problem Solving Formula

As we wait for the details of the Comprehensive Spending Review it is clear that government departments, firms and individuals will have to respond and adapt to “new “ challenges. Here I suggest a way to tackle this, a methodology , that combines ideas from Action Learning (Reg Revans) with the techniques used by Buffin Leadership International.
Addressing real life problems is one of the best ways for any leader or team to show their worth. Approaching this with an open mind (willing to learn and be challenged ) means that it is also one of the most cost effective learning experiences possible. The concept is that
L = P+Q
Learning ( L ) is a combination of Programmed Knowledge ( P , which we will call experience ) plus Questioning Skills ( Q, simply the ability to change experience in the light of new challenges). Add some expert facilitation and action planning and you’ll have a potent mix to resolve your issues!!
Historically a typical Action Learning programme could last some six months. In todays environment this seems a long time so here is a fast-track approach
Day 1 – form a problem solving team and jointly identify and agree the key problem statement. Using creative problem solving techniques ( such as Buffin Leadership Bridge model ) generate potential solutions.
Day 2 – investigate impact of potential solutions. What is cost/benefit of each? Which is easiest to implement? Which has greatest positive impact on customers? If you could combine a number of elements from each solution to form a “ super “ solution what would that be? Present the teams findings to all key stakeholders.
Day 3 – implement the solution and track the issues and benefits. If it’s not working as planned then change it ( ! ) as long as you keep focus on the desired outcomes. Embed the solution.
Day 4 – review the solution and the methodology that generated it. What could have been done better? What do we now understand more thoroughly? Who else could we have involved ? What is the next issue we want to tackle? CELEBRATE SUCCESS.

If you are interested in finding out more about our Fast-track problem solving methods then please feel free to contact me.

Also If you are based in the south west and looking for an inspiring venue to hold a meeting or conference then take a look at the newly opened South Bristol Skills Academy. http://www.cityofbristol.ac.uk/find-us/sbsa/2.html
Its a vibrant new site with state of the art audio visual equipment and highly competitive rates. To find out more contact Debbie on 0117 3125047 and mention this article.

Monday, 9 August 2010

3 ways to refresh your leadership skills

1) A checklist for leadership success. How would you/your team rate your performance ?
- Have a clear IDENTITY. Be sure you know who you are and what you stand for. A leader , parent , school governor , football coach. Ask yourself what would your passport say on the page headed “ who is xxxxxxx and what do they believe in ? How do want to be physically , emotionally, mentally and spiritually ?

- Generate a clear VISION for SUCCESS in all the areas ( and beliefs ) that are important to you. What would it look like , feel like , sound like ? How would you know when you had got there ? Share this vision with those important to you.

- Raise the ENERGY levels by aligning your thoughts, beliefs and emotions to your vision. All successful leaders ( and teams ) operate with high energy levels. Imagine how great it would be if everyone shared your dream and were passionate about working towards it. If you can imagine it you can make it happen. Help your team to find ways to address the six human needs of certainty, growth, significance, variety, connection and contribution. Ensure they can overcome any “ survivor syndrome “

- Take ACTION to make the things you want happen. Set out and agree clear specific outcomes leading to actions now. Check the results you get and if it worked do more. If it didn’t work try something else ! Work to create small successes and a virtuous circle of ambition , actions , results.

2) Come and talk to us at the NEC in September.

If you want to learn more about how to make real change, get more from your people and make massive improvements in business performance, come and talk to us on our stand (no. D125). We will be sharing some live examples and will be providing complimentary Creative 'Learning' Improvement Packs with a wealth of knowledge for you to take away and use in your business.

David Buffin will be speaking about how to facilitate Creative Change Programmes and secure profitable results against the economic challenges with people and the markets. Recent and real case studies will describe how to inspire commitment from the Board and output from the workforce to meet customer requirements. David is speaking in the Learning Seminar Programme in the Main Exhibition Hall from 11.00 on Tuesday 28 September.


3) Watch out for this new book

‘7 Habits on the Inside’ book from FranklinCovey
I received a call a couple weeks ago to let me know that the final draft of ‘7 Habits on the Inside’ book from FranklinCovey is ‘pretty much ready to print …’ There will be a whole chapter on the work we have achieved so far working with young offenders in prison. See how we apply state of the art corporate leadership models to enable young people to reshape their lives.‘Chapter 5: The Chrysalis Programme in the United Kingdom’ I will let you know when it is published.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Creativity Is Going Green

Creativity is Going Green

As individuals and firms look for a competitive edge we are all urged to be more innovative and creative. Yet there are many myths around creativity that sometimes make it hard to know what works. Read on for fun creative ideas that are proven both practically and scientifically.
1) Going Green
Have some real green plants in the office. According to an eight month study by Robert Ulrich adding a pot plant to an office increases creativity by 15%! and leads to more flexible solutions to problems. Why? At a subliminal level red is associated with urgency and danger whilst green is associated with positivity and relaxation. A separate study found that green areas in housing developments can reduce crime by around 50% !

2) Small things that Count
Small cues in our environment, or minds, have a profound effect on our abilities. Do you know that when participants in a quiz where asked to think about either a football hooligan or college professor as they answered questions those that thought of hooligans scored 46% and those that thought of professors scored 60%. In a similar study of creativity people asked to think about the behaviours of punks were significantly more creative than those asked to think about the behaviours of engineers! So ensure your mind is focussed in the best way.
3) Use the Quiet Guy
We are all used to our conscious minds ( the loud guy ) and creativity can be aided by using our subconscious minds ( the quiet guy ). When you’re stuck distract your conscious mind – do something different ( a puzzle , take a walk , read a newspaper article ) and allow your subconscious to process the issue. In an experiment that involved distracting some people during a problem solving exercise , those that were distracted generated twice as many creative ideas as those that weren’t distracted!

4) In touch with your inner Gorilla ( from Richard Wiseman )
Try using these four techniques
Priming – start by working feverishly on your problem then release the effort by doing something completely different. Go for a car ride , visit a museum and notice how your mind will create serendipitious events.
Perspective – changing how you think about an issue will generate novel solutions. Think how would a child, artist, friend tackle this? Think about an analogy – this issue “ is like “

Play – jump start your creativity by having some fun. Watch a funny film , digitally alter the image of a colleague or include the words “ cheese pie “ into your next conversation

Perceive – invest time in ensuring the world doesn’t become too familiar. Ask yourself some new questions every week. Why are bananas yellow? Why do people laugh? How do elephants communicate over hundreds of miles ?

5) Your test
So lets start being more creative now ! Answer the puzzle below.

Joanna and Jackie were born on the same day of the same month of the same year. They have the same mother and father , yet they are not twins. How is that possible ?

If you cant work it out at first try the techniques above. If that doesn’t work try asking a friend. If you are really stumped let me know and I’ll reveal the answer.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Who do you TRUST?

The United Kingdom, and much of the rest of the world, entered a period of economic turmoil in the last couple of years of the old decade. We witnessed the collapse of some businesses (and the rescue of others) as well as governments wobbling! This new decade may well be defined by the trust equation.
Many people have become distrustful of
- Financial services , who got us in this mess
- Governments and Regulators , what were they doing
- Some companies ,who resorted to old style “slash and burn” employee tactics
It’s not all doom and gloom though! We can see stock markets rise, the level of UK unemployment is not as high as expected, some companies used creative ways to retain staff and recruitment has restarted.
According to Stephen M R Covey how much we trust our government, companies and friends has a direct impact on performance. Re –building trust therefore should be an imperative at all levels of our society. This doesn’t mean uncritical trust (otherwise known as gullibility) but rather “smart trust” where a propensity to trust is matched by experience and analysis.
With a General Election looming we are likely to elect those people/parties that we most believe (trust ) will do what is right for the country and us! To undertake any interaction with financial institutions we will want convincing (trust) that our money is safe! With our actual and psychological contract with employers we want to know (trust) how they will treat us during both good and bad times! One of the single biggest reasons for leaving a company is not trusting your boss.
In “ The Speed of Trust “Covey outlines 13 Behaviours that are necessary to build a relationship of trust. These are
Talk straight, demonstrate respect, create transparency, right wrongs, show loyalty, deliver results, get better, confront reality, clarify expectations, practice accountability, listen first, keep commitments and extend trust.
So you could use this framework to
- Decide who to vote for
- Decide who to work for
- Implement changes in your own company
- Become a trustworthy individual!
Be the behaviour you want to see and enjoy the new decade!