The metamorphosis model of organizational development, passing through the cycles of growth and decline, describes the organizational life cycle of companies:
Focus on innovation, may rescue an organization in the declining phase of the organizational life cycle. Re-innovation or renovation becomes important when an old, traditional company goes into decline.
The first phase is often entrepreneurial and innovative with a sudden burst of energy capturing a new space in the market. This creative phase is terminated in a leadership crisis. It was Schumpeter who said, “It is rare for anyone always to remain an entrepreneur throughout the decades of his active life.” This cycle progresses from entrepreneurship to an organization that becomes slow and complacent.
Be sure that you have put in place a sustainable model for consistent Innovation. Once the returns from innovation start to pour in, the organization should focus on maximizing the returns through routine implementation. Harvesting is a mechanical and essential process. Use an Innovation Center to provide the foundation for a long-term initiative. Large, tradition bound, successful organizations, tend to prefer the stability that formalized procedures provide. Even though most companies accept the idea of innovation being important for success, most are not committed enough to practice it on a long-term basis. This book provides the underlying processes required to make it work on a sustainable consistent basis and demystifies the process for use across the organization.
Management is bottom-line driven. Usually extremely result oriented in the short term and often losing faith in concepts very quickly. Innovation is a concept that requires a long-term buy-in and takes time to be fully ingrained in the organizational culture. Consistent, long-term commitment and long-term implementation is key to making the climate of innovation a way of life. The benefits of an innovation intervention in very early phases are intangible. Long term top management participation and commitment is key to success. A critical mass of participants in a company practicing Innovation Tools (IT) is essential to demonstrate financial and process quality impact. Innovation practices, besides leading to continuous improvement, also result in quantum shifts in the business, leading to unprecedented profits. But patience and the Bhagavad-Gita principle of ‘Do your work without expecting results,’ are required. Organizational variables like quality of work life, teamwork, tolerance for new and disruptive ideas and unimpeded communication are required to make innovation initiatives work. Deploying the time, budgets and people required to make these initiatives work, requires management buy-in. Innovation champions are critical to carry through long-term initiatives.
Become familiar with what discourages creativity and speculation and what encourages it.
Listen to team members. Encourage, nurture and paint any picture they wish in their own words. Avoid making judgments, tuning out, listening to your own thoughts or not really understanding the speaker. Work on improving listening skills, especially the non-verbal ones.
Be vigilant, and deal with members who try to dominate with immediate and endless details. While they are brilliant, they can ruin a meeting so try to steer them away without alienation. Avoid the compulsive speaker’s eye during the discussion.
Keep the energy level high. Use your alertness, intensity and enthusiasm to improve the field. Your attitude is contagious. Your body language can stimulate the group to greater enthusiasm.
Use visuals, excursions and dynamic movement to avoid slothfulness. Changing the location renews the group especially when people are tired. It is often like an actual vacation from the problem and people return with fresh ideas.
Keep the pace fast, but not hurried.
Use humour, laughter breaks and laughter exercises.
Surprise the group. Have a plan to shake things up for post lunch sessions, or low energy times.
Make sure the problem owner is getting what he wants.
Let everyone learn the demanding role of the facilitator.
Keep an eye on the climate. Be gentle but firm. Be in charge of process.
The facilitator is like the conductor of an orchestra. Minute to minute he is responsible for getting the best out of team members in a meeting.
Ask each team member to write all the obstacles that stand in the way of achieving excellence on post-in slips. The problem bank should be a constantly growing database of emerging problems, developed by stakeholders. It should reflect the possibility of improvement and innovation, even in processes that seem to be working perfectly well. Anyone in the organization should be able to work on these problems and help solve them. In a good, dynamic organization, there will be at least a few problems which remain unsolved and may need outside help.
The time to identify problems is when things are going well. The organization then has the resources and energy to find hidden problems.
To create a problem bank you can use a ‘problem tree’. Ask everyone to write all the obstacles that lie in the way of making your company, say, the most successful company in the world. People can write thoughts on post-it slips and look at all the problems of the company together. Circulate this list to everyone and keep adding to the list right through the next 90 days. This problem bank should be exhibited in a place where everybody can see it – like the canteen, coffee machine or on the way to the wash-room.
Decide to approach all events, all people, and all things with affection, reverence and ‘Sraddha.’ This reverence is due to all, because of the divine spark that dwells in everyone whether he is a legend or a failure. Sometimes it is obvious. It is the silent flame of consciousness that reaches out to you from a flowering creeper or a healthy pet. Sometimes this life force has lost its vitality and is dimmed by dirt, lethargy and lack of care. Clean the glass of your Life’s lamp. Make the light shine through.
When you consider yourself sacred, you will treat yourself well. You will wear clean, fresh clothes, ironed and starched, mended if torn, but clean and fresh. You will smile at yourself, encourage yourself. Just as you put on clean fresh clothes, you will also clean up the mental space or field around you. Sweep out all ill-will, anger, fear and anxiety. Let there be the fragrance of incense, divinity of prayer and mantra, the smiles of loved ones, laughter and joy, the smell and taste of good, nutritious food. It is as important to clean the field around you, as it is to have a bath. Sweep out the sad baggage of the past. Take into that field only what is bright and elevating, fine and happy.
Validation by the self and others, particularly ‘significant’ others, is essential for the creation of a positive field. Everyone needs to be validated. People who retire from busy lives, feel the lack of validation strongly in their now empty lives, which they had not planned for. A plan that provides validation for one’s existence is critical to wholeness.
My relationship with myself is critical. How do I talk to myself? Holding, sustaining environments, nurturing and supporting fields, foster happiness. Building competence with coaching is an option. However, when one converts one’s management style from self-punisher and merciless critic to a loving coach, one creates an ever-present holding environment that nurtures one’s continuing movement towards growth and creativity.
The value system of a company can provide the environment for creativity. People can do their best if their work is good for the employees, customers, and the country.
“The essence of creativity is a willingness to play the fool, to toy with the absurd, only later submitting the stream of ideas to harsh critical judgment. The application of the imagination to the future therefore requires an environment in which to safely reflect, in which novel juxtapositions of ideas can be freely expressed before being critically sifted. We need sanctuaries for the social imagination.”
− Alvin Toffler
During meditative practices, the chemicals of peace and tranquility like serotonins and endorphins flow into the blood. Breathing, heart rate and pulse rate stabilize. The mind is able to function calmly and freely. An alert and relaxed attitude is required for the teamwork involved in building ideas and analyzing them. Self-awareness of your state of mind can help you get the most out of life and help others to do the same.
Emotions and the way you deal with them, create the positive field. The Mind is a field, which is filled with positive and negative emotions. The nava rasas can be your guide to understanding the nine emotions. The nava rasas are a 2000 year old Indian concept on emotions. The nine emotions have been built into a system of dance called Natya Shastra by Sage Bharata. Rasa means rapture or relish and 37 chapters of the Natya Shastra are devoted to eight of them, as Bharatha does not consider ‘Shantha’ or peace a major rasa. Bharata’s Natya Shastra even described each rasa with a different color.
The positive emotions create a positive field, which fills your blood with the chemicals of happiness and well-being, which are conducive to the building or rebuilding of a healthy body and mind. The negative emotions create a negative field, which fills your blood with the chemicals of unrest and unhappiness. It is important to have a closer look at the nine rasas.
The individuals in the team have a fixed amount of potential energy.
Each individual uses as much of his energy as is necessary to ensure his emotional survival.
He tries hard to avoid getting hurt and to lick his wounds or takes revenge if he is hurt.
Only the balance of energy is available to devote to the task.
Energy available to the group dramatically improves as the team climate improves.
More energy is put into achieving goals.
Less is spent on safeguarding emotional well-being.
You achieve a team atmosphere where colleagues are a pleasure to work with, the boss is a good guy, there is excitement in the air and laughter too; and success is within hand’s reach.
The positive field is the foundation of highly productive and innovative teams.
For the lush growth of creative ideas, it is necessary to create a space which is very supportive of wild ideas. Let us build a sanctuary for wild ideas. Just as a game sanctuary protects wild animals, let us place wild ideas in a protected area where they can wander around in peace.
The group is not to stop till they have 100 ideas. No one is allowed to shoot down any idea however irrelevant; only building is allowed. Ping-Pong and springboards are allowed. Impossible ideas in a sanctuary are allowed to grow unmolested. No one is allowed to attack them, only grow and develop them.
As C.K. Prahlad put it, every company has before it a 100 alternative futures. Every person has before him a 100 alternative futures; creativity enables you to explore these alternatives in your mind.
These explorations cost nothing. They could save you millions.
A bank wanted to rapidly open branches at a minimal cost. They were not sure which locations were most likely to succeed. An I Lab came up with the idea of using existing organizations such as schools, petrol bunks, and panchayat halls to set up branches. This solution has two advantages:
1. It was inexpensive
2. It could be easily dismantled or closed if not successful.
Today, the speed at which corporations are required to grow, involves experiments. An experiment should be inexpensive. In fact, in an experiment, there is no success or failure; there is only feedback.
This essentially is Tent Thinking. A tent can be put up, change shape, it can expand or reduce and it can be put up elsewhere.
Marble Palace Thinking involves a fascination with permanence. Permanent structures, people and systems are expensive and difficult to dismantle. Permanent staff is a fixed overhead, which cannot be reduced as a swift response to falling demand in a recessionary market. This is the Marble Palace mentality.
Success in today’s scenario goes to those who are swift, dynamic and able to respond to mercurial changes in the environment. Adaptability is the most important quality this millennium demands. Marble palaces become fixed overheads, which are difficult to adapt to any other use.Loneliness is the worst disease of the modern world. Loneliness attacks are deadlier than
heart attacks. Reach out and touch people around you. Let your hi-tech life not isolate you from a hi-touch life. Your family and friends are waiting for the hi-touch you. Reach out verbally, tonally and non-verbally. Write notes in gratitude to all those who make your life meaningful. Your parents, friends, your neighbours. Read to the blind. Coach a poor child. Exchange plants and seeds over the wall with your neighbour.
1. Normal belief: A hospital is a place for sick people.
2. T U D: A hospital is a place for people who are healthy.
When we looked at a hospital as a place for people who are healthy,
1. Our base of customers increased to include a vast number of healthy people who come for positive health programs. The positive health theme included the “Well Woman” program, which involved a health and beauty focus: yoga experts, beauticians, and women’s health practitioners helped create a vastly successful program. Preventive health care became a positive activity. 15 check-ups including the heart check, the diabetic check and the child health check were part of the wellness check portfolio.
2. The relationship with customers, which traditionally started on a note of pain, anxiety, and death, began on a happy note. The focus was how to remain healthy and how to face problems. The lifetime relationship, which is the bedrock of direct marketing today, started on a happy, positive note, with wellness as the key.
Since then I realized that, thinkers from Plato onwards have developed hundreds of thinking tools which are as easy to learn as the 3R’s - Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. The simplest tools include checklists ranging from Rudyard Kipling’s famous “Five good serving men” (The questions Why, Where, When, Who and How) to Alex Osborne’s 9 Word Checklist.
Ideas imported from other fields can totally transform your company. In a Creativity Lab conducted for an internationally acclaimed company dealing in printing of tea bags, the problem was maintenance of delicate machines. The expensive machines were often handled clumsily, resulting in damage, breakdowns and loss. To counteract this, the ‘Metaphor’ tool was used.
Metaphors can be applied to gain fresh perspectives on the situation under analysis. A metaphor is a term or phrase that is applied to another, unrelated term or phrase to create a non-traditional relationship. For example, “All the world’s a stage.”
Metaphors can be used to examine various situations. For example, an organizational environment might be the topic of analysis. One might ask, “How do people in my organization resemble animals in a jungle? How do different animals manage their interactions with each other and how do we translate them into the different leadership styles that are used?” Answering these queries might allow new insights into the situation.
• Play Devil's Advocate. As a discipline, think of the exact opposite of the view you have been holding. If you've been saying 'Yes' get the motivation for 'No'.
• If you are an optimist, as a discipline work out the motivations of the pessimist.
Most of us tend to see situations through the flawed windows of our own nature. We are optimistic or pessimistic and do not really participate with others in understanding all aspects and connotations of a problem.
Dr. Rekha Shetty is Managing Director of Farstar Distribution Network, a unique consultancy company devoted exclusively to innovation and creativity under the brand name Mindspower.She is an author, an entrepreneur and an original thinker. Her long term Innovation Initiative, using 47 thinking tools helps in a steep increase in profits, reduction in costs, while improving customer satisfaction levels and employee participation levels. She is a consultant to ICICI Bank, Ashok Leyland Ltd., Hyundai Motors Ltd., TVS Group, TI Group, Durgapur Steel Plant, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. and other blue chip companies.
In her very first assignment in United India Insurance, she developed a nationally acclaimed advertising campaign. During the last seventeen years, she has specialized in the field of Creativity in Management and developed her own management brand, Mindspower. She was one of Asia’s first women District Governors for Rotary International and was awarded Rotary’s highest Award – Service above Self.
Her fourth book “Innovate! 90 Days to Transform your Business” is under print and will be released by Penguin during May 2010.