Wednesday Work Wisdom: Your Organization is a Cult

January 30, 2013

Contrary to conventional wisdom, opposites do not attract. In fact, it has been scientifically proven that opposites repel. The reality is, like attracts like.

As a result, your organization has a bunch of people who think the same way.

People have personalities, and so do organizations. Many would call this their culture. This is an appropriate word since it is related to the word “cult.” Everyone in your organization most likely fits the mold.

There are four primary organizational personalities:

  • Analytical: Organizations that value expertise and intelligence, like pharmaceutical companies, research labs (like NASA), and many financial institutions.
  • Results-Oriented: Organizations that value the bottom line, quarterly earnings results, and stock price like large, publicly traded organizations.
  • People-Centered: Organizations that value relationships and their impact on society, like non-profits and NGOs.
  • Creative: Organizations that value imagination and ingenuity, like advertising/branding agencies and some entrepreneurial start-ups.

The key word in each description above is “value.”

The personality of your organization is not determined by the work you do, the industry you are in, or the people you hire. It is determined by what is valued.

Ask yourself which of the attributes above – analysis, results, people, or creativity – is valued the most. Don’t just look at your performance management system.

What is truly valued, when push comes to shove, by your leadership? Who really gets promoted? What always gets recognized and rewarded?

Here’s the important point…

*** Your organization’s personality will give you a hint at what is not valued. ***

This is your organization’s innovation blind spot. Non-profits are notorious for not valuing traditional business lessons. Large corporations are known for not truly appreciating creative individuals who think differently.

In order to innovate more effectively, you need to first identify your innovation blind spot – what is not valued – and make a concerted effort to encourage these people, behaviors, and activities.

Although your organization will have a single personality, you need to be adept at all four sets of innovation skills.

P.S. Personality Poker is a great tool for identifying your innovation personality and specific innovation blind spots.

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European Business Review Article

January 29, 2013

An article of mine was just published in the European Business Review. It is a concise summary of my overall innovation philosophy.

Here’s the introduction…

In today’s fast-paced business environment, the ability to innovate is not enough. You need to innovate efficiently, quickly, and with less risk. Tradition innovation methods, such as asking employees or customers for ideas, have proven to be a bad idea. Instead of “thinking outside the box” you want to define a better box. This article describes a five-step process that will help you accelerate the way you innovate. You will learn how to ask the right question, the right way, to the right people, in the right way, while implementing through experimentation.

You can read/download the entire article in pdf form here

Or you can read it online on the European Business Review website.

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Monday Morning Movie: The Hot Tub Principle

January 28, 2013

Yesterday on my blog, I announced 3 new regular features, including the Monday Morning Movie. Today,  my video comes to you from a hot tub in Orlando. I discuss how you get new insights by reducing how hard you think.

This video was shot with my 2nd generation iPoad nano.  Some videos will be shot with a hi def camera.  And others will be shot with my iPhone.  Therefore, the video/audio quality will vary over time.  As you can see with today’s video, in an attempt to make sure the microphone as a close to me as possible, I chopped off the top of my head.  Although this was unintentional, it seems fitting given that the video is about quieting the brain…or at least parts of it.

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New Blog Features

January 27, 2013

Starting tomorrow, I will be creating 3 blog features every week:

  • Monday Morning Movie - I will shoot a brief video to share a concept around innovation.  This, as you probably guessed, will run Monday mornings.
  • Tuesday Transcription - A transcription of the Monday Morning Movie.
  • Wednesday Work Wisdom - This feature will be an article which discusses a concept specifically for the workplace.  It might be about innovation.  But it could also be about entrepreneurship or success.
  • Thursday Travel Tip - From time to time I will share an insight I have learned from my millions of miles of business travel.
  • Friday Fun Facts  - I want to close the week with some useful, yet fun information that will carry you through the weekend.  Sometimes they will be interesting facts.  And other times, they might just be something fun or funny.

Everything will be related to innovation, creativity, or success; anything that helps you as an organization or individual tap into your full potential.  And everything will provide new insights that will lead to new actions that will deliver new results.

P.S. As part of this redesign, the newsletter will also change to an every other week format that summarizes these features and more. 

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Turn Everything Upside Down

January 23, 2013

I love to take baths as home.  But the water never seemed deep enough. When I would fill the tub up with 9 inches of water, the overflow plate would prevent more water from entering the bath.

I tried a number of ways to cover the drain hole, including Saran wrap, duct tape, and plastic bags. But none of these approaches worked exceptionally well.  I looked at drain hole covers for sale on, but they all seemed clunky and unreliable.

Then I had an idea.

I simply unscrewed the drain plate, turned it upside down, and refastened it. Voila!  The hole is now on the top  of the plate. I have an extra 3 inches of water in the tub. This is an extra 33%! And I still have the benefit of the drain hole just in case I forget to turn off the water.

This got me thinking: Where else can you turn things upside down to develop new solutions?

Of course conditioner and ketchup bottles have been literally doing this for a while now.

But how might you turns things upside down figuratively?

Here are some useful questions to help you look at a problem, or your company, differently:

  • What do you always do?  Do the opposite.
  • What is your competition doing? Do the opposite.
  • What have you never done? Do it.
  • What is no one else doing? Do that!
  • What do you always do last? Do it first. (or vice versa)
  • What is the least important thing you do?  What if it was now the most important? (or vice versa)
Surface and challenges assumptions. Look at the world differently. How can you get an extra 33% just by quickly turning things upside down?

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Disconnect to Reconnect

January 21, 2013

I am now just returning from a month sabbatical. This allowed me to reflect and spend time with friends and family.

As part of that month off, I did a two week intensive retreat where they sequestered my phone.  No email, phone, books, music, or videos for a fortnight!

Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy at first. In the beginning I was jonesing for my iPhone. But after about 4 or 5 days, I forgot about it completely.

In fact, I liked being disconnected so much, I am attempting to stay less connected all of the time.

Try this for yourself.  Can you go two weeks without ANY electronic communications? None. Nada. Zippo. No FaceBook. No text messages. No email. No twitter. No phone calls. No  TV, radio, videos, or even newspapers. Basically cut off from the outside world, unless you can see someone in person.

How would you have to design your life in order to do this? Maybe going cold turkey would be too difficult.  How could you reduce your dependence on your phone and computer?

Trust me, there is a freedom in disconnecting. It allowed me to really be connected to those around me. More importantly, it allowed me to reconnect with me. It is truly an awesome experience.

To keep the general idea alive, I am having critical emails and phone calls forwarded to someone who is connected all of the time. I am only checking my emails 2 or 3 times a day (morning, midday, and later afternoon).

I am trying to be present to my surroundings rather than having my head buried in my phone. In doing so I feel lighter, more aware, more creative, and freer. It quiets the mind, after you get over the initial withdrawal symptoms.

Give it a try. Try disconnecting and enjoy being truly connected.

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