How can you focus and motivate your teams to put their creativity at work on your main issues?
One of the main issues for an organisation is focus and motivate talented people at all levels to put their Minds on key issues and to initiate innovative solutions designed to improve (Incremental Innovation) and to Reinvent (Radical Innovation) processes. This requires to create an “Ecology for Innovation”, i.e. a context or a “space” conducive to the practice of Creative Thinking and Innovation.
Here is the story of an team who purposefully decided to put their imagination at work during a time that could have otherwise killed them.
The cover page of Britain’s most respected Economics publication dated September 27th 2008!
In 2008, we are approached by a company active in bio foods going through a difficult situation: turnover spinning downwards and urgency measures to be found and applied to get out of trouble.
Fortunately, the CEO is a man who highly respects the people and the teams working with him and above all their talents. So, no question for him to to lay people off or to apply classical solutions that we call the “3 Rs”: Reaction Restructuration and Re-engineering.
A Business tsunami can turn into an opportunity to move forward
The CEO instantly understands that the best way to face the situation is to call upon the Creativity of his entire workforce. His intention is clear: rather than look for and recognise “standard” situations and come up with “standard” answers, he decides to call on their collective Creative Intelligence, to focus and mobilise everyone on the key issues. No question to yield to fear or to panic. The question is to face Reality with Courage and Optimism.
His intention: create a “Magic Zone” outside the “Comfort Zone”.
An “Out-of-the-Box” approach: Focus and Freedom in action
The CEO is going to implement an approach designed to liberate Imagination, Intelligence, Courage and Motivation in the various teams.
A context is created which is going to enable everyone to work in super creative, focused and dynamic ways on key issues.
This approach includes 5 steps:
Before anything else, it is of paramount importance to boost the creative attitudes, competences and capacities to amplify and strengthen the quality of the Thinking and outputs. Otherwise, the risk is that some people might feel helpless.
Everything begins with a set of Transmission sessions of efficient and creative Thinking methods to all members of the workforce. This is designed to reinforce their non-linear, “Out-of-the-Box”, creative, even revolutionary Thinking capacities to come up with real solutions to the problems they face
2. Create a strategic balance between “Optimisation” and “Innovation”. At this stage people are going to choose the creative challenges i.e. the main questions upon which they wish to focus. They are going to operate simultaneously in the “Present” curve (radical optimisation of current approaches) and on the “Future” curve (invention of new solutions).
This phase is vital because it focuses everyone’s Creative Energy on themes and subjects which serve everybody and contribute to the company’s success.
It is at the beginning of this phase that 4 short-term challenges are identified, among which: how to save one million Euros over a 4-month period without laying anyone off? It mean finding implementable solutions, radical improvements, transformations, cost reductions, processes optimisations etc. all applicable over the next four months.
4 middle-term issues are also selected. One is linked to the discovery and market launch of a new product. The solutions to be discovered will have to demonstrate their impact within a 6 to 12 month period. It is middle-term but the company is going through a crisis. This is a “Fast Track to Innovation”.
The teams concerned by the Present are called FETs for “Focused Efficiency Teams”.
Those busy with the Future are called FITs for “Focused Innovation Teams”.
Reminder: the time available to manage the crisis challenges is 4 months.
Apart from that, everybody has “carte blanche”. No useless reporting, no sales forecasts, no ROI to demonstrate before even having begun to explore solutions. No other constraints.
3. Moving from “Command and Control” to a balance between “Focus and Freedom”.
Members of the workforce are then free to choose the subject they are going to deal with. Some are much more mobilised by the Present issues. Others by the Future challenges. When the question is to spark Desire and Motivation, it is crucial to let everyone commit to a subject. The question is to truly and consciously put one’s competences where one feels stimulated and motivated by the focus.
At this point, the three key components of the Biotop are assembled: Focus + Desire + Skills
4. Organised practice. Everyone is conscious that if a proper context is not organised to make this “Thinking” possible, there is a risk that participants by overwhelmed by their daily routine activities! So, everybody agrees: one morning a week will be blocked by the 4 “Present” teams at the same time. One afternoon will be blocked by the “Future” teams. Customers will be informed: no one will be available, no phones calls, no meetings…
5. Coaching. Once every two weeks, we coach the Present and the Future teams. The Present teams are urged to remain in the Present, within the constraints of radical improvements or of optimisation. The Future teams are pushed to get out of the Present and to dare more disruptive approaches.
Results: one million Euros saved without any lay offs, 4 new offers one of which launched over a 4 month period.
If you want to read a press article (In French), clic here
Shifts and Mental Maps Regeneration
Getting those results is due to the three shifts have taken place in a coherent way:
Shifts in Intentions
- From the Preservation of the Past to the Desire of inventing the Future
Shifts in Emotions
- From emotions drawing towards the Past – such as Fear – to hope generating ones such as Confidence and Enthusiasm
- From Ego battles to the will of being the best and serving everybody
Shifts in Thinking
- From the Comfort Zone to the Audacity and Innovation space
- From repeating the Past and Déjà Vu to the exploration of the Unknown through Imagination
- From Best Practices to Next Practices
- From “Silos” to “Combos”, or better, from preserving turfs and territories, everybody serving everyone and everything