Are You Managing From The Monkey Bridge?

Can you answer yes to any of the following questions? 1.  Does your company tends to write a plan every year but mostly it is put in a binder to gather dust?  Maybe you don’t even do planning because “what’s the point?” 2.  Do you spend too much of your time fighting fires, eliminating emergencies and chasing “what if’s”? 3.  Can you quickly explain your current business strategy and how it fits with your company’s vision?  Your 3-yr strategy?  Your marketplace position? 4.  Can you show your current program performance measures and make the appropriate mid-stream corrections? 5.  Do you have to go through more than one layer of management to get a decision made about any program – even one that has already been given a green light? 6.  How many times each year do you have to justify your budget? More than during the annual budgeting process?  Do … Continue reading

Wildfire – Creative Fire Extinguishers Flair Up

Creative fire extinguishers are a normal part of our human nature. Change can be uncomfortable. New ideas can cause disaster. It’s natural to want to find ways to avoid disruption. It would be nice to develop an organization that would drive these tendencies out, but that won’t happen to these deeply ingrained habits. For each habit you break a few others will pop-up. Creative Fire Extinguishers don’t exist because we have developed bad habits. They are here to serve real objectives of stability that exist for individuals and organizations. So how do you keep Creative Fire Extinguishers under control? Know them. Understand them. Channel them. And then provide support for ideation and creativity to help overcome them. Truth is ideas should have to survive a rigorous review. There are bad ideas. There is unnecessary disruptive creativity. The point of controlling Creative Fire Extinguishers is to make that review process as … Continue reading

Creative Fire Extinguisher #10 – Expect Everyone To Just ‘Get It’

Change rapidly becomes personal. No matter how great an idea is for an organization as a whole, there are always going to be individuals who interpret implementation as a threat or as a waste of time. There are also going to be individuals who simply don’t ‘get it’ — at least at first. You may want to just ignore them or wish them out of the way. But this is a critical target group to understand. They are customers for your idea. You need to understand their motivations and fears and develop elements that address their needs. In many cases their concerns might help you focus development of your idea in a way that more clearly identifies and defines the advantages that will make the sale. It is dangerous to assume that those who don’t rapidly latch onto an idea are slow or simply wrong. Understanding their issues can smooth … Continue reading

Creative Fire Extinguisher #9 – Ignore The Little Things

During the creative process opportunities have to be ranked and evaluated so that decisions can be made about where to expend resources. The danger here is in creating a ranking system so simplistic that critical small ideas never receive focus. Determining market size and sales opportunity is a natural part of this process. Developing filters to help managers make quick decisions streamlines this process and helps focus human capital. Large organizations often create a cut-off point – “No ideas under $20 million.” The difficulty with this simplistic approach is three-fold. First, truly breakthrough ideas are very difficult to size correctly. Second, sometimes strategically you’re better off firing 5 small shots at a market than one cannonball. Third, it reduces motivation for employees to explore ideas of anything less than obvious potential. I’ve addressed the difficulty customers have in comprehending their need for breakthrough products (CFE #3) and therefore your ability to size a … Continue reading

5 Pieces of Kindling

kin-dling –noun 1. material that can be readily ignited, used in starting a fire. 2. the act of one who kindles. ( Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.) Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, Deluxe Edition (Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary (Deluxe)) If you have ever built a fire — indoors or out — you know that you can’t just lay match to log. The preparation that has to occur (the kindling) builds the foundation so that when a spark does occur there is something for it to ignite. The same is true for creativity and innovation. Without a receptive foundation, the spark will just languish and die. The question that I believe is the most important is the hardest to answer; How do you create a creative culture in an organization that is productive and consistent? Our starting point for this series is a quote attributed to Socrates — ” … Continue reading