ONLINE POLL: Raising the Bar for Extraordinary Teamwork in 2009
If you are committed to accomplishing extraordinary results, chances are good that you will need to collaborate with others.
Your ideas and dedication, no matter how inspired they may be, will never be enough by themselves. It takes a village.
Most people's experience of being on a team -- especially those who work in large companies -- is less-than-ideal, filled with frustration, power struggles, and the belief that it's not worth the effort.
OK. Those days are over. No matter how disappointing your experience of teamwork may have been in the past, it's never too late to turn things around. And it all begins with AWARENESS -- tuning into what's actually going on with you and your team.
Intrigued? If so, click here and take Idea Champions' online TEAM REALITY CHECK poll. In a few weeks, we'll post the results here -- a way to help you and your team get into deep dialogue about what it will take to really collaborate in 2009.January 21, 2009
Humanizing the Workplace
It's really not my nature to be this effusive about other people's books, but Gary Hamel's newest offering, The Future of Management, is a 15 on a scale of 1-10. Lucid. Authentic. Compelling. And very well-written.
Gary and his co-author, Bill Breen, have built a very compelling case for WHY management needs to change its stripes if they expect their organizations to grow or, more specifically, establish the kind of corporate culture that is conducive to real innovation. Here's an example of Hamel's straight talk:
"As human beings, we are amazingly adaptable and creative, yet most of us work for companies that are not. In other words, we work for companies that aren't very human."
"There seems to be something in modern organizations that depletes the natural resilience and creativity of human beings, something that literally leaches these qualities out of employees during daylight hours.
"The culprit? Management principles and processes that foster discipline, punctuality, economy, rationality, and order, yet place very little value on artistry, non-conformity, originality, audacity, and elan.
"To put it simply, most companies are only fractionally human because they make room for only a fraction of the qualities and capabilities that make us human. Billions of people show up for work every day, but way too many of them are sleepwalking. The result: organizations that systematically underperform their potential."
Innovative organizations know how to elicit a creative response from their workforce, not a reactive response. They know how to establish the kind of conditions that nurture growth, instead of mechanically extracting it. They choose to water the root of the plant, not tug on the stalk or harangue the leaves.
And they choose this approach because somewhere, deep, down inside, they respect the innate creativity and integrity of each and every employee.January 15, 2009
The Beauty of What's in Front of You
A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.
Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds -- then hurried to meet his schedule.
A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and, without stopping, continued to walk.
A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.
The one who paid the most attention was a 3-year old boy...
His mother tried to rush him, but the boy stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.
In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.
No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.
Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats averaged $100.
This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The themes were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: How do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?
One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?
Want to be really innovative? Notice what's going on right in front of you and appreciate it.January 13, 2009
Tried anything recently that didn't quite work out? Congratulations! You're on your way to a breakthrough.
Bottom line, there is no innovation without "failure." If your perception of failure is "something to avoid," you can kiss innovation goodbye. Failure comes with the territory. If the word puts you in a foul mood, use another one -- like "experiment," for example.
"The way to succeed is to double your failure rate."
-- Thomas Watson, Founder of IBM
"Do not fear mistakes. There are none." -- Miles Davis
"99 percent of success is built on failure." -- Charles Kettering
"I have not failed once. I've just found 10,000 ways that didn't work." -- Thomas Edison
"An inventor fails 999 times, and if he succeeds once, he's in. He treats his failures simply as practice shots." -- Charles Kettering
"Give me the young man who has brains enough to make a fool of himself." -- Robert Louis Stevenson
"Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly."
-- Robert F. Kennedy
"Adversity reveals genius, prosperity conceals it." -- Horace
"When we can begin to take our failures non-seriously, it means we are ceasing to be afraid of them. It is of immense importance to laugh at ourselves." -- Katherine Mansfield
"Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently."
-- Henry Ford
"No matter how well you perform, there's always somebody of intelligent opinion who thinks it's lousy." -- Sir Laurence Olivier
"If your life is free of failures, you're not taking enough risks."
-- H. Jackson Brown
"You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try." -- Beverly Sills
"I failed my way to success." -- Thomas Edison
"Act as if it were impossible to fail." -- Dorothea Brande
"Failure is success if we learn from it." -- Malcolm Forbes
"You can only be as good as you dare to be bad."
-- John Barrymore
"The season of failure is the best time for sowing the seeds of success." -- Paramahansa Yogananda
"Failure doesn't mean that you're a failure ... it just means you haven't succeeded yet." -- Robert Schuller
"Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat."
-- F. Scott Fitzgerald
"Failure is nature's plan to prepare you for great responsibilities."
-- Napoleon Hill
"You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down."-- Mary Pickford
"Never give in, never give in, never, never, never never -- in nothing, great or small, large or petty -- never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense." -- Winston Churchill
"We are not retreating -- we are advancing in another direction."
-- Douglas MacArthur
"I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward." -- Thomas A. Edison
"Fall seven times, stand up eight." -- Japanese Proverb
"Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." -- Confucius
"Stumbling is not falling." -- Portuguese ProverbJanuary 05, 2009
10 Reasons to Design a Better Corporate Culture
If your organization is committed to creating a corporate culture that is conducive to growth, innovation, and high employee morale, take a look at this insightful article from Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge Newsletter.
The article won't tell you how to create the ideal culture, but it does make a strong case for why it's important. Good ammunition for you in case you need to get the attention of senior leaders and other key stakeholders.
PS: If you're looking for guidelines to help you establish a culture of innovation, click here.