Unresolved Conflict at the Top Produces Chaos in the Middle and the Bottom
A guest post by Idea Champions' newest leadership development consultant, Dr. Barry Gruenberg.
When those in senior leadership positions avoid conflict among themselves, the unresolved conflict ripples throughout the organization and paralyzes action at every level. Key issues go unresolved and the tension at the top pervades the organization. Followers of each of the powerful protagonists must constantly demonstrate their loyalty to their sponsors in their words and deeds; they must scrutinize all that they do to ensure that they are not seen as violating the party line.
Lower level employees are often enlisted to participate in task forces or committees to deal with the various by-products of the unresolved issues.
These efforts are virtually guaranteed to fail since any recommendations for resolution will compromise at least one of the contending senior managers who will usually use their power to veto the idea, leaving the task force frustrated and progress hindered.
This is ironic because the members of the task force will have attempted to remain loyal to their constituency throughout the proceedings and will usually feel that they have salvaged the most important interests of their group in the negotiation process. But the senior managers, who have delegated their conflict, will generally take an all or nothing posture on the outcome.
The only true resolution to this phenomenon requires the direct participation of the protagonists -- their committed effort to resolve their differences before the symptoms of their misalignment irrevocably muddies the organizational waters.July 30, 2016
Why Your Organization Needs to Create a Culture of Storytelling June 30, 2016
BETTER THAN THERAPY: What Stressed Business Partners Can Learn From the Police Reunion Tour
Making great music together isn't always easy, no matter how famous your band is. Nor is it easy being business partners, collaborators, teammates, or "significant others". If you want to make some serious music together, "creative dissonance" is inevitable. Count on it. The question isn't whether or not band mates or business partners will experience breakdowns. They will. The question is how committed are they to breaking through and coming out the other side.March 20, 2016
Here Is the Graphic Design Help You Have Been Looking For
See that good looking guy to your left? That is Jesse Ditkoff, my soon-to-graduate-Hampshire-College son -- a Digital Media major who will soon be launching his free lance design career.
His services? Graphic design in the following arenas: websites, brochures, posters, ads, logos, business cards, and photoshop.
This brilliant young man is creative, honest, kind, flexible, funny, persevering, easy to work with, and honors his commitments. Here's his website.
And this is the website he created for my company. (NOTE: I've gotten a bunch of new business because of it).January 12, 2016
How Storytelling Shapes Culture and Humanizes the Workplace
More goes on in the modern-day workplace than meets the eye. Indeed, it's often the stuff that meets the ear that makes all the difference. Click here to listen to Mitch Ditkoff's 60-minute VoiceAmerica interview on the power of personal storytelling in the workplace.January 24, 2015
Radio Woodstock in the House!
We just received this very nice piece of feedback from the President of Radio Woodstock, Gary Chetkof.
"Idea Champions was a true partner in helping us untangle some of the issues we were struggling with. They were very easy to work with and the processes used were fun and creative and they worked splendidly. We were able to find out what the major obstacles were and our entire team worked together to find solutions. Everyone participated fully, and everyone now has much more clarity about how to better work together. We even have our new mission statement that you can see on our Facebook page! I wholeheartedly recommend Idea Champions to any business that wants to problem solve, brainstorm, or get their employees to work more harmoniously together."
And this just in from Richard Fusco, Radio Woodstock's General Manager:
"As a small company where everyone wears many hats, being organized and all pulling in the same direction is key. Strangely, as a communications company, our internal communications were off. Val Vadeboncoeur of Idea Champions helped us with all three. His sessions were focused and fun. We all came away with a new unified working spirit."December 11, 2014
The Awesome Power of Immersion
"If I had an hour to solve a problem," explained Albert Einstein, "I'd spend the first 55 minutes thinking about the problem, and the last five solving it."
Translation? One of the secrets to having a big breakthrough is immersion -- "the state of being deeply engaged, involved, or absorbed."
Immersion is the ocean in which our fabulous insights, ideas, and illuminations are swimming. That's why Yogis seek out caves, embryos gestate, and writers go on retreat.
And that's why my business partner, Steven McHugh, and I rented a townhouse in Boulder, Colorado for 30 days and 30 nights when it was time for us to start up Idea Champions. We knew we had a great idea for a business, but we also knew that ideas were a dime a dozen and that unless we really immersed we'd end up with nothing much more than a charming story to tell at cocktail parties -- the idea for a business, but not the business itself.
Armed with little more than a flip chart, a few marking pens, and a burning desire to create something new, we unplugged from all our other commitments and jumped in with both feet.
We talked. We walked. We walked our talk. We noodled. We conjured. We brainstormed, blue-skied, dialogued, role played, invented, read, sang, stretched, drank coffee, wine, the crisp Colorado air, and whatever else it took to free ourselves from the gravity of what we already knew. If this was Rocky 1, our townhouse was the Gym, Adrienne nowhere in sight.
And every night before we went to bed, blissed out of our trees, we'd remind each other to remember our dreams and speak them aloud the first thing in the morning.
CLUES. We were looking for clues, hints, perfumed handkerchiefs dropped by our muse while we slept and anything else that bubbled to the surface of the imaginal stew we found ourselves now swimming in.
Crackpots? No. More like crockpots, simmering in our own creative juices, unimpaired by the almost infinite amount of distractions we had grown accustomed to calling our life.
Immersed. We were completely immersed -- two eggs submerged in the boiling water of creation, heat turned up, lid on, timer off.
Our walls? The walls of our abode? Covered with paper, sketches, scribbles, post-its, quotes, pictures, lists, charts, diagrams, questions, and take out menus -- the barely decipherable hieroglyphics of our journey into who knows where.
The floors? Our mothers would have had a heart attack, littered as they were with anything we didn't have a place for. Rube Goldberg meets Fellini. Yin meets Yang meets Jung -- the flora and fauna of two aspiring entrepreneurs on fire with possibility.
But our immersion went far beyond the four walls of our abode. It was a state of mind, not a geographical location. It didn't really matter where we were. Walking by the creek or sitting in a bar was all the same to us, ruled as we were by our shared fascination, random silken threads of conversation with complete strangers, and the increasingly apparent sense that we were on to something big.
And then, on the morning of the 19th day, very much at ease in our townhouse abode, there was a knock on the door -- a loud and insistent knock, a knock both of us found rather odd since nobody knew where we lived -- or so we thought.
"It's open," Steven shouted from across the room. "Go ahead and let yourself in."
And there, at the threshold, stood a woman neither of us knew, a woman boldly announcing that, for the past three days, she'd been hearing about "these two creativity guys" and she just had to meet us, her business now on the cusp of either breaking through or breaking down.
I don't remember a single thing of we said, but whatever it was hit the nail on the head.
The next day, there was another knock on the door. Apparently, someone else had heard about our whereabouts. This guy had a business, too, or was trying to have a business. He spoke. We listened. He spoke some more. We listened some more, occasionally asking a question or two and sharing some insight. He too, got what he needed.
On the third day, Jesus did not rise from the grave, but, yes, there was another knock on the door -- just enough proof to the logical part of our minds that the previous two visits were not random events, but part of some kind of emerging pattern -- what fans of Rupert Sheldrake might refer to as manifestations of the morphogenetic field, or what less metaphysical folks might describe as our very own "field of dreams."
Steven and I had done nothing at all to draw these people to us -- no ads in the paper, no posters on poles, no calls, no emails, no flyers, no social marketing campaigns. The only thing we'd done was immerse -- dig deeply into our own highly charged process of creating something new.
But this "nothing at all" wasn't nothing at all. It was something -- something grand and glorious. Something extraordinarily attractive.
Is a mother hen sitting on her egg doing nothing at all? Is she slacking? Is her seeming disappearance from the poultry marketplace a sign of irresponsibility?
To the casual observer, maybe that's what it looks like, but nothing could be further from the truth. Sitting is exactly what the mother hen needs to do in order to bring new life into the world. Stillness, not action, is her path.
Did Steven and I accomplish what we set out to do during our 30 days of immersion? Yes, we did. In spades. Beyond the inspiration, collaboration, and good feelings we experienced, we emerged with the design of our first product -- a creative thinking training we ended up licensing to AT&T just two years later for a truck load of money.
Was our immersion time all fun and games? No way. Chaos and confusion were our housemates, but the rent they paid sparked a ton of learning, creativity, discovery, and a new found willingness to make friends with the unknown -- what Henry Miller was referring to when he defined confusion as "simply a word we've invented for an order that is not yet understood."
In today's business world, immersion is a very rare commodity. ADD rules the day. Time is sliced and diced. We don't have time. Time has us. We tweet, we delete, we tap our feet, but all too often nothing much beyond the status quo ever really happens. Downtime has become an anathema -- the province of "B list" players. Busy-ness and business have become synonymous.
The assumption? The more we do and the faster we do it, the more success we'll have. Boil an egg? Ha! We microwave it -- even if it tastes like shit. Dive in? No way. We hydroplane.
But it doesn't have to be that way. It really doesn't.
Slowing down and going deep trumps speeding up and going crazy. Immersion trumps diversion. It's possible. Yes, it is. I have proof. And so do YOU, if only you would pause long enough to remember those extraordinary times when you unplugged, tuned in, and dove into your own process of creating something new and wonderful.
A QUESTION FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:
What can you do, this week, month, or quarter, to unplug from the daily grind and give yourself the luxury of immersion? Where will you go? When? And who will you invite to accompany you, if anyone?
Excerpted from my forthcoming book: WISDOM AT WORK: How Moments of Truth on the Job Reveal the Real Business of Life.December 10, 2014
Win a Subscription to Free the Genie
In an effort to ho, ho, ho the ground for innovation in 2015 (and in gratitude for YOU being a reader of Heart of Innovation), Idea Champions will be giving away five annual subscriptions to our Free the Genie creative thinking app. If you want to enter the raffle, simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org by 12/26 and include one New Year's resolution you are making for the coming year. If your name is selected, we'll send you the link to your free subscription on 12/31. Go for it! And happy holidays to you!October 07, 2014
THE SEED OF INNOVATION MOMENT: A 3-Minute Video Tutorial
If you are trying to spark a renaissance of innovation in your company by launching some kind of "innovation initiative", consider the fact that the seed of innovation is already available in every conversation that people are having. This 3-minute video tutorial dives in deeper.September 15, 2014
Is Peace the Innovation We Need the Most?
"Innovation" continues to be a hot topic in corporate circles these days -- a "competitive edge" organizations are increasingly attempting to hone so they can not only differentiate themselves from the competition, but survive in today's topsy turvy economy.
That being said, there are some forward thinking organizations out there who are going beyond the status quo and seriously asking themselves what they can do differently to not only be "socially responsible", but use their corporate clout to help various peace-themed global causes truly impact positive change.
If that describes your organization, please contact us. Idea Champions, in 2015, will be launching a new innovation-sparking service to help corporations, world wide, figure out HOW they can leverage their resources, bandwidth, and brainpower to foster peace and well-being in the world -- and still make a profit.
Unleashing Business Brilliance
March 29, 2014
That Big Beautiful Idea of Yours
What big, beautiful idea of yours needs just the right touch of collaboration, support, and immersion to see the light of day? Your next step? And when will you take it?February 19, 2014
How to Open the Door to Innovation
There is no magic pill, but there is a key. And the key has a lot to do with creating a critical mass of savvy innovation catalysts and change agents who know how to open doors (and minds).March 27, 2013
Infusing Your Workplace with Humanity
62% of all Americans are dissatisfied with their work. 85% of the general public don't trust business leaders to tell the truth when confronted with difficult issues. If YOUR organization wants to explore practical ways of raising the quality of the workplace experience and engaging employees in ways that are humane and sustainable, here's your starter kit. You may also be interested in our Humanizing the Workplace keynotes, town meetings, and workshops.March 22, 2013
Looking for a Savvy Website Designer?
If you are looking for a web savvy graphic designer you can trust to create your new website, I recommend Aliza Corrado, Founder of Studio Motif. Aliza is creative, dedicated, collaborative, honest, and delivers exactly what she promises -- and all for a fair price.
The Humanize the Workplace Poll
If you work for an organization that needs to become a more benevolent and humane workplace, I invite you to respond to Idea Champions' new Humanizing the Workplace poll.
Not only will it jump start your thinking about simple changes that can be made on the job, it will also provide us with the vital input we need to really tune into the issues.
You'll need about five minutes.
We'll be posting the results of the poll here in a few weeks, but if you'd like us to email the results to you directly, just note your email address in the comments box or send a message to email@example.com
You can read more about this topic in my latest Huffington Post article.March 20, 2013
How to Humanize the Workplace
A recent poll has revealed that 62% of Americans are dissatisified with their work.
While there are a lot of contributing factors, one BIG factor is that most workplace environments are not wired to bring out the best in people. Quite the contrary.
That's what my newly published article in the Huffington Post is all about.
It doesn't just name the problem, however. It also provides a simple "starter kit" for how each and everyone of us can begin to humanize our workplace environments.February 21, 2013
If You Want to Innovate, Collaborate!
During the past 25 years of consulting with some of the most forward thinking organizations in the world, I've noticed a curious trend.
My clients' efforts to innovate, no matter how sincere or well-funded, usually undervalue one of the key drivers of innovation -- and that is the ability of their workforce to successfully collaborate with each other.
In their singular rush to accomplish the extraordinary, they have forgotten that innovation is a team sport.
While the ideas that spark innovation may originate in the fertile imagination of a few creative thinkers, the act of translating those ideas into products, services, and breakthrough ways of doing business requires a set of interpersonal skills that has become all too rare in today's corporate environment.
The reasons for this can be distilled down to an outdated mindset that continues to subvert even the best designed "innovation process" -- a mindset that promotes competition over collaboration.
One need look no further than the average corporate landscape for proof: silos, turf wars, and territoriality rule the day.
Time and again, aspiring innovators, project teams, change agents, and internal sponsors run into time-wasting roadblocks that can be traced to the same root cause -- the inability of a diverse group of people, working for the same company, to navigate the highly charged process of working together instead of against each other.
Enter Collaborative Innovation, Idea Champions' groundbreaking program that teaches savvy business people how to successfully collaborate even in the midst of the kookiness, speed, and chaos that defines most organizations these days.
We provide our clients with the insights, skills, tools, and support they need to turn all the hot talk about "innovation" into quantifiable results in a way that empowers, inspires, and maximizes the brilliance of every single person in their organization.