The importance of not leaping into solutions before understanding the problem

A recurring theme has been going around in my head lately and this has been reinforced on two separate occasions this last few days. This is about reaching conclusions about a solution before identifying the problem.

The first occasion that cropped up lately for me was in an article in the Observer on Sunday 20 March 2011, written by Neal Ascherson, questioning whether we are addressing the right problems in reaching solutions, and quoting examples in both Libya and Japan. In this he also quotes someone he met who said that “As an engineer, I can tell you the root of all human mistakes. It’s people putting things right, before they have finished finding out what’s wrong”. Continue reading “The importance of not leaping into solutions before understanding the problem”

Change and the creative process

Some time ago in my working life as an employee I initiated a change process which made excellent use of creative tools. I will come back to this example in future blog.

Since then I have been using creative tools in my work in a variety of contexts as well as teaching them to managers and leaders. I am convinced of the value of using creative thinking tools in order to work through the change process.

So what does this mean? Continue reading “Change and the creative process”

Trust – an essential element of good leadership and a requirement for creativity to happen

Recently I came across a discussion of trust being destroyed when and if a 360 degree assessment programme was to be used in terms of seeking to make redundancies.

I coach leaders where 360 is used to give them a strong background of understanding themselves and how their behaviours impact upon others. Trust is essential to this process. Continue reading “Trust – an essential element of good leadership and a requirement for creativity to happen”

Importance of love at work – no, not an affair between colleagues but the positive valuing and respect of one colleague to another or a leader and his or her team.

‘Love,’ in a work context could be described as  genuinely valuing the people around you, and the context you work in, so as to provide the emotional space and security for confident exploration and learning. Quoted from the MBA module Creativity and Change (Open University Business school) and referencing Charles Handy (1991). Continue reading “Importance of love at work – no, not an affair between colleagues but the positive valuing and respect of one colleague to another or a leader and his or her team.”

Creativity requires a focus on forgiveness and learning from mistakes rather than blame

In some cultures, people are always apologising – often for very little. Sometime apologies are called for and are not forthcoming. What I have been reflecting upon is the link between apologising and forgiveness and what this means in the workplace and in the realm of leadership and creativity.

Forgiveness implies letting go, excusing someone or making a conscious decision to not get angry with someone who has harmed or upset you. Continue reading “Creativity requires a focus on forgiveness and learning from mistakes rather than blame”

Creative leadership and why curiosity need not kill the cat

Leadership and conditions for Creativity

This week I have been developing a workshop around creative problem solving as well as marking assignments for the MBA programme Creativity, Innovation and Change (Open University Business School.)

A set of concepts that I particularly like are the conditions that encourage and discourage creativity, developed by James Adams (1987). Continue reading “Creative leadership and why curiosity need not kill the cat”

Leader or manager? – some reflections and does it matter?

When I started running management training courses for new managers  in the early 90ties, one of the slides that I used to show attempted to define the differences between managers and leaders. This was based upon the work of Kotter

Kotter defines management as being about organising, planning, controlling and managing complexity; and leadership as being about creating vision, communicating and setting direction, motivating, aligning people. His updated work emphasises the importance of both to organisations. Continue reading “Leader or manager? – some reflections and does it matter?”

Do cultural differences in leadership style influence effectiveness?

Last week I wrote about the French hierarchical style of leadership, and since then I have recently read an article in the Guardian concerning a different style, that of Ban Ki-moon.

I prefer not to comment on the general question of his effectiveness as a UN Secretary General, however it does seem that his Asian style of leadership is judged harshly in the West. Continue reading “Do cultural differences in leadership style influence effectiveness?”

A paradox in France between the concept of democracy and power to the people and the hierarchical management style that so typifies French industry.

Last week was Bastille Day in France and as I listened several times to the words of the Marsaillaise it struck me that there is a real paradox in France between the concept of democracy and power to the people which somehow these words represent and the hierarchical management style that so typifies French industry. Continue reading “A paradox in France between the concept of democracy and power to the people and the hierarchical management style that so typifies French industry.”

Innovation is more about attitude and culture than technology

The Economist recently (June 12th -18th) included an article written by Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway. Something that he said resonated with me – that is that ‘Technology is easy to develop, developing a new attitude, moving the culture from one mental model to another, that’s the difficulty’. Continue reading “Innovation is more about attitude and culture than technology”

Working to ones strengths and the world cup

In following the England and French teams in the current round of world cup matches, several leadership issues seem to be very apparent. Leaders are required to bring out the best in their team – I would think that this is a given? Teresa Amabile, one of the writers referenced on the Creativity, Innovation and Change module of the Open University MBA, identifies six factors that result in creativity in the workplace: Challenge, freedom, resources, work-group features, supervisory encouragement and organisational support. The first of these is challenge. This should be about managers (leaders?) matching people with the right assignments to maximise their potential and keep them motivated. Continue reading “Working to ones strengths and the world cup”