CREATIVITY, NEW EXCITEMENT
Since the 1990s, we have faced many issues in the Forest Service including down-sizing, right-sizing, restructuring, outsourcing, to name just a few. One of the central strategies in the Forest Service is change. Not to long ago, it would seem that changes in anything would take generations. Today, we expect change and with change happening so quickly, we must embrace it in order to succeed. And like any other organization, this is causing stress and uncertainty in the Forest Service. It is not your Mom’s or Dad’s Forest Service anymore.
With all the changes around us, fun is more important and worthwhile at work than ever. If you are stressed and always thinking about the negative things associated with changes in the Forest Service, your creative ability and ideas will be diminished. Take some time out during the day and look at the positive. Think about having some fun. The premiere management guru of the last three decades, Tom Peters argues passionately that people need to have a good dose of laughter and enthusiasm in the office. Humor at work has shown to boost retention, decrease stress and anxiety, encourage cohesiveness and most of all increase employee creativity. Need we say more! All for fun and fun for all! Peters believes that manager’s at all organizational levels have responsibility for creating what he calls a “culture of fun.”
Consider Southwest Airlines, who’s former CEO Herb Kelleher, called himself the “High Priest of Ha-Ha.” Southwest looks for recruits with a sense of humor, paints its airplanes with unexpected designs like Shamu the whale, hides flight attendants in luggage racks to surprise customers, and produces rap videos to announce organizational results. Not every manager or supervisor needs to go that far, but even little things can make a huge difference in promoting a culture of fun.
For example, next time you find yourself talking about being productive, setting goals, and working hard, think about substituting these terms: “Have fun with…, Explore the possibility of…, I encourage you to…, Be inventive…, Enjoy yourself while…, Use the time freely…, View this as a game in which you…, Play around with this…, or Don’t worry about making mistakes…”
Studies have found that simply changing your vocabulary can produce a profound impact on employee reactions and their creativity.
In an effort to infuse more joy into the workplace, we must be careful to avoid one pitfall: compartmentalizing fun. Fun should be woven into the fabric of the workplace; it should not be viewed as some tool that we pull out of a dusty box when morale is low.
There are some organizations that will try this program…like “Send an e-mail out that we’re all having fun today,” said one manager at a computer firm. But holding an annual pizza party or barbecue will do the trick. Fun needs to be an intrinsic part of work.
And these days, with the many changes in the Forest Service, hurricane disasters, terrorist fears, we need more fun than ever. Consider that three in four high school students surveyed said that having a fun job was more important than making lots of money or doing challenging work. If the new generation of workers deems it that important, maybe we need to rethink our strategy and deliver.
It is obvious that there is no shortage of challenges facing us today and tomorrow. These same challenges can, however, be also seen as challenging opportunities.
Innovation is all about people. It is about the roles
people can play, the hats they can put on.
Tom Kelly, IDEO
CIO, “The Key To Innovation: Overcoming Resistance,” Michael Schrage, Pages 34-35, October 15, 2005 (www.cio.com).
Wisconsin Technology Network, “Process or Practice – Choosing A Path To Innovation, Tony DiRomualdo, October 11, 2005 (http://wistechnology.com).
Workforce Management, “The Cult Of Welch,” John Hollon, Page 74, October 10, 2005 (www.workforce.com).
Business Week On Line, “Are CEO’s Naive About Innovation?” Bruce Nussbaum, October 7, 2005 (www.businessweek.com).
Fast Company, “The 10 Faces Of Innovation,” Tom Kelley and Jonathan Littman, Pages 74-77, October 2005 (www.fastcompany.com).
Innovation, At The Speed Of Laughter, John Sweeney, Aerialist Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota 2004.
Moving on means letting go of your old role.
Ella L. J. Edmondson Bell, Professor
Dreaming and Creativity
Struggling to come up with the next big idea for your organization or team, or can’t decide how to handle a delicate matter? Go to sleep suggests Amy Alexander in “Wake Up to Opportunity” in Investors Business Daily. That’s right; your dreams may deliver more insight than your awakened brain can. That’s why, more and more, leaders are looking to the nocturnal “Aha!” moments as a way to shape their business, careers and decisions. In 1994, Caroline MacDougall was working at The Republic of Tea when she had a dream that pushed her in a new direction. In the dream, MacDougall recalled, “I told the president of The Republic of Tea that the next product I’m, going to create is a caffeine-free cappuccino, and the name of the product is Teeccino.” MacDougall then woke up wondering if she could get herbs to run through an espresso machine. Today, she is CEO of Teeccino Herbal Coffee. Her best advice to leaders? “Spend ten to twenty minutes in bed lying quietly and recalling images and messages that come back to you.”
You can even prompt your brain to work for you as you sleep, says executive coach Lynn Robinson. She recommends writing down a central question before hitting the hay. “You might simply ask for information about an issue,” she says. Pay attention as you awake. Lie still and ask yourself if any answers or ideas have appeared. And give it some time. “If it’s a big decision, you might need to repeat this over two or three nights,” Robinson suggests. Successful leaders decide upon their true dreams and goals. And when dreams don’t come to them when they’re awake, they lie down, fluff up the pillow and get to work.
The best way to sell an idea (business plan, job application, etc.) is to make sure you really and truly understand it yourself…it’s definition and scope and size and consequences. And the best way to understanding it and to communicating it to others is to focus very sharply on the creation of three separate pitches at different levels of detail: 5 seconds, 30 seconds, or 5 minutes. Consultant Scott Berkin explains: “The 5-second version, also known as the elevator pitch, is the most concise single sentence formulation of whatever your idea is. Refine, refine, and refine your thinking until you can say something intelligent and interesting in a short sentence. Never allow yourself to believe your idea is so complicated and amazing that it’s impossible to explain in a sentence. If you were to use this excuse on me, I’d tell you it means you don’t have enough perspective on how your idea fits into the world.” And he warns: “If you can’t distill down what you’re doing in 5 and 30 second versions, don’t worry about the 5 minute version: odds are you won’t get many people to listen to you for that long.”
Einsteinís Theory Provides Clue To Finding Innovative Talent
Most organization’s executives willingly give lip service to the value of innovation among their top strategic priorities, but finding the innovators to bring it about can be problematic. As Peter Drucker noted 20 years ago, innovation is the tool of the entrepreneur, so organizations need to find entrepreneurs that can institute innovation in their established routines. How do you do that? Timothy Faley, managing director of the University of Michigan’s entrepreneurial business studies, says traditional executives tend to evaluate people’s capabilities based on their achievements within the corporate structure (think performance reviews) and often have difficulty identifying innovators from outside that realm. “This is where Einstein’s theory of relativity can help,” says Faley. “Young, rapidly growing organizations can have annual corporate growth rates 20 or more times that of their established brethren…Due in part to the disparate company growth rates, for example, the development pace of an employee who maintains the same position at a fast growing startup over a five year period is equivalent, in terms of increasing job complexity and responsibilities, to a counterpart at a moderately growing large corporation who has multiple-level promotions during the same period. Faley recommends that when assessing job candidates, zero in on competencies and responsibilities rather than job titles, and then make sure they fit with the innovative aspirations of your own organization.
Creativity and Business
More and more business leaders are looking to schools of art and design for sources of inspiration and creativity. Top European business school Insead in Fontainebleau, France, just outside Paris, has joined forces with the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, to teach the role of creativity in business decisions, explore how innovation really works, and explain why design is important to corporate management. Inseadís curriculum has won the respect of such innovative organizations as General Electric, Procter & Gamble, and other creative companies. Art Center President, Richard Koshalek says, ďThe business community is just now discovering the importance of creativity.Ē
Some thoughts from a few Dreamers.......
I agree with many of your ideas and suggestions yet I see so little being done in the Forest Service to enhance our creative skills. I would like to pose a question to you and your readers, why do we see so little official communications on the need for creativity in the Forest Service? Look at the changes that have happened recently and the results. There is much need for creativity in our organization.
I think that some of the problems in the Forest Service about the lack of creativity are that everyone must think alike. We want everyone to fit the mold. The green mold! Everyone must look, act and think alike. The Forest Service way! People who donít fit the mold are outsiders and find it hard to fit into the Forest Service culture. I know from experience; my personal originality and ideas were swallowed up. Now days I offer few ideas and suggestions. I think we miss the boat when we want people to think alike. This affects our ability to have a diverse workforce and people who think differently.
If you are interested in learning more about creativity or wish to share any experiences, please contact Karl Mettke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank You For Taking Time To Be Creative...