FOREST SERVICE EASTERN REGION May 2007
CREATIVITY, THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
Optimism pays! Being optimistic can make the difference. It turns out that optimists fare better than pessimists in most aspects of life, including relationships, work, school, sports, etc. In general, optimists get depressed less often, embrace change, want to succeed, are creative and have more ideas than do pessimists.
And there’s more: Optimists live longer. A Dutch study on cardiovascular health found that pessimists die sooner of heart disease than optimists, but they also die sooner from just about everything. Optimists, on the other hand, typically found themselves in a loop where their hard work, creativity and thinking leads to success, which leads to more self-confidence which leads to the desire to work ever harder, and contribute more ideas, which leads to more success, etc.
The good news is that you can choose to be an optimist, even if it doesn’t come naturally. Researchers say optimism is 25 percent inherited; the rest is up to you. One way to become more optimistic is to “fake it till you make it.” One study found that participants who acted more assertive and energetic…even if they didn’t feel like it…actually felt happier after the experiment. This approach has a surprisingly strong and immediate impact on people’s emotions. An optimist will naturally be more creative. Here are some ways for you to be more optimistic as we face changes occurring in the Forest Service.
Its’ up to you! Being an optimist is a choice. In the Forest Service today, we are facing many challenges and frustrations, but we each have choice in how to handle these difficulties. When we let events influence our moods, we become servants to these events. However, we can free ourselves from other influences and choose to be happy. Here are some suggestions:
Pay attention to your thoughts…whenever you find yourself thinking negatively, dwell on a problem or feeling upset about something; change your mind-set by focusing on solutions, not problems. Consider that obstacles are actually opportunities for growth. Ask yourself what you can do to turn the situation around and then act on it! You will be surprised how much creativity you have.
Laugh…choose friends who are optimistic and make you laugh. Pessimism and optimism are both contagious. To promote a healthy outlook, hang out with optimistic friends. Watching funny movies and reading humorous book will help you too. Laughing helps your creativity.
Exercise…when you exercise, your body releases endorphins, feel good substances that reduce stress and anxiety. Exercise also helps diffuse tension, clears you mind and helps your thinking.
Help others…it’s better to give than to receive. Perform at least one act of kindness each day. Making others happy actually increases your happiness quotient.
Help yourself…not only should you be kind to others, but be kind to yourself too. Do something each day that brings you happiness…call a friend, read, listen to music, eat an ice cream cone, feed the ducks, etc. Helping yourself will benefit your personal creativity.
The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity.
The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
MarketingProfs, “Creativity At Work: Why It’s Important And What It Takes,” Brian Beatty, April 3, 2007 (www.marketingprofs.com).
Boston Herald, “Organization And Creativity Should Go Hand In Hand,” Lise Stahl Brown, April 1, 2007 (www.bostonherald.com).
Business Week, “The Wiki Workplace,” Don Tapscott & Anthony D. Williams, March 26, 2007 (www.businessweek.com).
Sydney Morning Herald, “The Subversive Approach to Innovation,” Kellie Bisset, March 20, 2007 (www.businessnetwork.smh.com.au).
Human Resource Executive Online, “Cultivating an Innovative Culture,” Peter Adebi, March 16, 2007 (www.HREOnline.com).
Payback, Reaping The Rewards Of Innovation, James Andrew & Harold Sirkin, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA 2006.
There is no failure, except in no longer trying; no defeat,
except from within; no insurmountable barrier, except our
own inherent weakness of purpose.
5 Golden Rules For Innovative Organizations
Golden rules are like a personal philosophy. There is no way to prove them or disprove them. You simply believe them. Here are the Golden Rules for innovation from the Idea Factory.
Listen to People…listen to people when they comment, criticize, offer suggestions or ask questions. Respond positively. There is a belief that for every customer who complains, another stay nine stay silent. Don’t silence the one who speaks. The same applies for staff who offer you ideas; even bad ones. Listen to them, understand their concerns. Don’t be patronizing or defensive. Many opportunities have been lost with comments such as, “what’s wrong with the way we do it here?” They may be right and you may be wrong!
Seek out ideas people…seek out employees, suppliers, customers and others who are ideas people. Develop networks of people who can contribute a number of perspectives. Look for enthusiastic people. Employees or customers who challenge the status quo are not the enemy they are your allies.
Respect ideas…support and respect ideas that are generated. Give credit where and when it is due. We want to generate ideas that get results. Not every idea is workable from the start. However, be positive and support the initiative. People who make suggestions are taking a risk. Don’t trivialize them. Encourage them, as the next idea could be a winner.
Be committed…be committed to the process of finding ideas for the on-going success of your organization and its people. Innovation and the idea factory can be considered just another fad if they do not become part of the organization’s culture. The Idea Factory is designed to produce the results that are measurable and tangible. Sometimes the best results may be a better understanding of a particular aspect of the business. Other times it may be a new service that you can launch. You must be committed to the process.
Give ideas…give ideas generously to others knowing that you will be rewarded in turn.
How can we get more and better ideas? “I don’t think we get ideas,” says CIO Michael Hugos. “I think ideas get us.” Artists and composers frequently say their best ideas come from somewhere outside of themselves, Hugos explains. So a better question, is how do we put ourselves in a frame of mind where we can receive inspiration when it strikes? The answer, says Hugos, is to start acting like artists. First, immerse yourself…not in your art, but in your business. Learn how each business activity fits into the overall organization. Next, collaborate frequently with people from other departments. A mash-up of complementary skills can spark new approaches. Third, get comfortable with uncertainty. Creativity can be messy, so resist the temptation to rush to judgment. Most business problems are pretty complex, so it’s unlikely your first few ideas will be truly innovative. Don’t dismiss ideas just because they defy preconceived notions, and don’t give in to pressure to start building something before you get the inspiration you need. Finally, look for simple patterns where all the elements fit together in a simple, logical and complementary fashion. When you find a simple combination of workflow processes and technology that satisfies a variety of business requirements, Hugos says, you have created an innovative design.
Oct 15, 2006
A Rose-Tinted View Of Innovation
Management-Issues, author Nic Paton said that top management often has a distinctly rose-tinted view of how their company is doing when it comes to innovation in products and technology, a view often at odds with those they are leading. A survey by research company Sirota Survey Intelligence has found senior-level executives are more likely to be satisfied with their organization's innovation in products and technology, while their professional technocrats, such as engineers and programmers, are the least satisfied. Whereas nearly three quarters of senior-level executives said they were satisfied, just six out of 10 professional employees felt the same way, rising to seven out of 10 mid-level managers. What this showed, said Sirota, was a worrying gap between how both sides viewed their success at innovation. 'While the satisfaction of lower and mid-level managers with the innovation of their companies falls somewhere in the middle, professional employees are clearly the least satisfied,' said Sirota president Douglas Klein. 'This may be a cause for concern, since professionals are the ones most responsible for the development of new ideas that lead to practical product and service innovations,' he said. 'The much higher satisfaction of senior managers with their companies' innovation than that expressed by professional employees may be signaling the need for a more in-depth dialogue between these two groups about what is truly in the innovation pipeline, and what barriers professionals believe are standing in the way,' Klein added.
March 30, 2007
Some thoughts from a few Dreamers…….
I have to take a few moments to thank you again for your wonderful publication. It has already paid huge dividends for me. I read many of the articles you suggest and it helps me and my co-workers be more creative. Thank you so much for the wonderful impact you have in the Forest Service and your zest for energy and passion.
Is creativity really gone from the Forest Service? I don’t think so! How simplistic is it to say that ideas are not wanted, when in reality we need new ideas all over the Forest Service. Look at what is happening today. We are reorganizing are offices and eliminating many jobs, so it’s not surprising that some people are frustrated and think managers are not listening. The reality is that managers want suggestions and ideas from employees. There are no simple answers or solutions to the problems facing the Forest Service. We need many suggestions for cost-saving opportunities. Creativity does reign and will greatly benefit the Forest Service.
Creativity is a word that seems to be on the minds of many people lately. The Creativity Web is a resource center that has a variety of information to help you become more creative. The resources available on this website are numerous and include: information on books, software, and techniques to stimulate your thinking. You can reach the Creativity Web at http://members.optusnet.com.au/~charles57/Creative/.
If you are interested in learning more about creativity or wish to share any experiences, please contact Karl Mettke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back issues of Creativity Fringes are posted at the Federal Consulting Group http://www.fcg.gov/creativity_fringes.shtml. (Historical)
Thank You For Taking Time To Be Creative….