Collaboration | The Brainzooming Group - Part 112 – page 112
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Today’s guest post is from Eric, or @flyingspatula as I’ve come to know him. That’s one intriguing aspect of social media: people can disclose as much or little about themselves as they’re willing to reveal. Eric is manager of a reporting team in Toronto, and under the @flyingspatula Twitter name, he tweets an amazing stream of great quotes and insights into strategy and management topics.His Twitter bio also says he’s a “funk-tacular” person. I agree, and look for more guests posts in the future. Here, he shares his perspectives on the importance and approach of managing by example:

You may have green-fielded your team and picked the diamonds in the rough. Or maybe you’ve inherited a group of people (inmates). Regardless of your team’s opinion, you are their leader. As such, you are the designate of the company. For all intents and purposes, you write their reviews, give them their assignments, and you sign their check.

So where does this leave you as a leader? You need to wrangle the broncos and lead this herd – regardless of their background or experiences. You are the leader because you have the skill set and attitude to manage these troops better than any of them do.

Now to deflate you a bit. Your team will mutiny if you waltz in and start bossing them around. You’ve got to be able to manage by example. Here are my top 5 tips to do it successfully:

1. Ask for Help
You don’t have all the answers – don’t pretend you do. Your people may have been doing the job longer than you have. It’s okay to ask them for guidance on the day to day tasks. This doesn’t show weakness – it shows that you’re human. It’ll also demonstrate that you acknowledge and respect your people.
2. Provide Direction but Let People Make Mistakes
You have experience on your side. Play that card. If you’ve inherited a team, you may not know the company as well as them, but you’ve seen certain scenarios play out over and over again. Guide and advise. Unless someone is going to cross the line, let them make mistakes. They’ll see value in asking your advice in the future.
3. Give Up the Spotlight
Your team does wonderful work – partly because you’re an awesome leader, but mostly because you realize you need to hire people smarter than you. Chances are you’ll have to present their work to the “higher ups.” That doesn’t mean you get to pretend you did the work. I’ve got a team of programmers. I’m not about to pretend I know how to code in php and do loop-de-loops in MySQL. They do great work. My role was to pick them out from the crowd and let the glow of the spotlight fall on them.
4. Don’t be Lenient
This is a touchy subject. I would caution that as a leader, you should have the trust of your team before you start waiving the big stick. In a new team, there will be some growing pains at first. Most team building books say you’re going through the “storming” phase. Don’t fall for this. If you let your team dictate the norms, they will walk all over you. Of course I’m being extreme, but seriously, if they step out of line, you need to reel them in. Make it clear that there are Dos and Don’ts in your team. If push comes to shove, they need to do what you ask.
5. Create Performance Measurements Together
As a new leader, you need to evaluate your staff. Engage them during this process. You want your people to realize that you’re not an evil person – and you want a sounding board to make sure your goals and expectations are realistic and achievable.
Hope this helps! Good luck you super managers and gurus in training.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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It’s exciting to have two guest authors this week, both in response to reaching out on Twitter for leaders in innovation and strategy to share their perspectives. Today’s post is from Howard McAuliffe, a real estate and community development professional in St. Louis, MO.

Howard has worked in Real Estate Development and entrepreneurial endeavors since 2001. He holds a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning and Real Estate Development with a concentration in Community Development from Saint Louis University and has served on the Public Policy Committee for Metropolis St. Louis, including serving as the Public Policy Chairperson in 2008.

In a recent tweet, Howard mentioned his participation in an upcoming Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis innovation conference. I reached out, and Howard agreed to share his perspective on the speakers and conference content:

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis hosted a conference on community development titled “Exploring Innovation” on April 22-24. The conference comes at a time of economic hardship throughout the world. The Exploring Innovation Conference brought together grass roots practitioners and some of the top minds in the country to discuss, collaborate, and learn.

The term “conference” brings to mind a series of experts speaking at the audience. This, however, was far from a traditional conference. The audience was as vocal as the presenters, with a conversation and exchange of information. Stand out presenters and facilitators included:

  • Alan Berube, a senior fellow and research director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.
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  • Mark Pinsky, president and chief executive officer of Opportunity Finance Network.
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  • Ray Boshara, vice president of the New America Foundation. He has advised presidents, testified before Congress and given speeches all over the world
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  • Bill Strickland, CEO, Social Architect, Community Leader, and Visionary who has built a state of the art community center and major business incubator in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. He is using the arts to motivate the citizens that society has given up on to realize amazing accomplishments.

 

In addition to the world-class presenters mentioned above, some of the ideas and organizations that stood out to me were:

  • Swamp Gravy, a theatre company, revitalized its small Georgia town through its performances. This resulted in some astounding economic benefits.
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  • The EAST Initiative, started in rural Arkansas, is a program that motivates children to work together to solve problems by addressing practical projects.
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  • The Cornerstone Corporation for Shared Equity has an innovative program that allows renters to earn equity in exchange for being a responsible tenant. This includes paying rent on time, participating in property upkeep, and staying in the building for an extended period of time.

This conference was definitely a memorable and educational experience because of amazing participants, presenters, ideas, and innovations. For those interested, you can find out more information on the conference, presenters, and tools that are relevant to community development.  

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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There are various sketchbooks in our home office loaded with ideas. Sometimes a good thought doesn’t fill up a whole blog post right away, but it offers enough possibilities to work well on Twitter. This is the debut of a new feature offering collections of strategic thinking ideas tweeted first, but then grouped and arranged to make them more digestable.

This first group touches on strategic collaboration, a fitting topic since upcoming posts on Wednesday and Thursday are both from people I’ve met over the past few weeks on Twitter.
Collaboration

  • Don’t always answer a question for someone who already “knows” the answer. Let them own the answer.
  • Take risks on determined people. Even when falling short, their tenacity will create something rewarding.
  • Seek help. Don’t try to understand or do everything yourself. There are people better prepared than you. Let them do what they know.
  • Get input early from a boss that has an informed perspective. You’ll benefit from doing so.
  • Ask questions of experts. Chart their answers for agreement/disagreement. Pray. Then make your best decision.
  • Ask someone completely new for help with a challenge. You’ll appreciate the different perspective. They’ll like helping.
  • Go out of your way to (at least informally) mentor those eager to learn & grow.

Please let me know your thoughts on this new feature in the comments section!


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Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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I was in Western Kansas last week, and my mom and I made a few trips to Walgreens. Right inside the parking lot was a huge pothole (interestingly, this may be a part of the Walgreens brand experience because there’s a comparable one at the Kansas City location we regularly visit). The first two times we were there, my mom pointed it out and told me to be careful not to hit it. I found this quite UNNECESSARY since, given its enormous size, it was IMPOSSIBLE to not see the pothole.

On my way out of town, I stopped alone at Walgreens to get something. This time, I didn’t see the pothole, and without my mom to point it out, the car thudded right into it.

Why the difference? I’m not entirely sure.

But here’s the lesson: even when you think you don’t need help from someone, TAKE IT. And more than that, accept it with a smile, take it to heart, and thank them for the advice because you just don’t know what might have happened if they hadn’t cared enough to offer it!

 

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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It’s always great to solicit and consider expert opinions. It’s not so great, though, when qualified experts don’t agree, and you have to decide and act.

Being confronted with this situation recently (4 physicians, none of whom agreed on the appropriate course of action) caused me to reflect on decision factors to be considered when this happens. These issues seem applicable in comparable situations you may face:

  • What are the experience levels among dissenting parties? Are they generalists and/or specialists?
  • How long has each expert been involved with the situation? Does more tenure translate into greater expertise?
  • Are there differences in the risk/benefit perspectives among the experts?
  • Do any of the experts have a personal or vested interest in a particular outcome? Does a preference create disproportional bias on a particular expert’s perspective?
  • Is there a more solid logic behind one point of view vs. another?
  • How do the relationships among the experts play into the difference of opinion?
  • How willing is each expert to consider and learn from new information?
  • Are any experts in roles that create a disproportionate bias?
  • If assistants are involved, how do they react relative to the experts they are or aren’t affiliated with?

In the situation I faced, it appears we made the right decision.

We took the most experienced expert’s point of view; he also had the most tenure and personal interest in the situation. The medical specialist, who was newest to the case and most reluctant to act, demonstrated role bias, made an illogical risk assessment, and had a wonderful P.A. who gave ample cues that she wasn’t fully in support of his position. He was willing, however, to accept new information, and went ahead with the (successful) surgery he was initially reluctant to perform.

So, what questions or criteria do you use to figure out which expert to believe?  – Mike Brown

 

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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“Hitting a Creative Brick Wall” by @Pretty_Awkward


Work work work work, short break,
work work work work, potty break,
work work work, quick snack,
work work work, BOOM! Creative brick wall.

Yet another delightful example of the incredible creativity being shared on Twitter, if you know where and when to look for it. This one appeared in the middle of the night earlier this week.

Here’s a question: Can any of us come up with a comparably elegant and simple word depiction of getting around a creative brick wall?

I’d love to share your creations here. Maybe @Pretty_Awkward might even favor us with an answer post!

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Today’s post for World Creativity and Innovation Week comes through a Twitter connection with Gwen Ishmael, Senior VP, Insights and Innovation at Decision Analyst in Dallas. Gwen has worked across a variety of industries in branding and marketing, with leadership roles in new product and service development. She spoke at the marcus evans Open Innovation conference last week, and shares her perspectives on themes from the conference:

This month’s 3rd Annual Open Innovation conference in Las Vegas saw B2B and B2C firms coming together to share open innovation (OI) best practices and tools. Unlike other events I’ve attended, these companies embraced the concept of openness and spoke candidly about how they had achieved their successes and where they’re trying to improve.

Headway is being made in addressing OI resistance. For some, the quest for external inspiration and contribution is actively promoted by executive management. Chris Thoen, Director of Innovation and Knowledge Management at P&G, says CEO A.G. Lafley’s long-standing direction for “50% of P&G’s initiatives to have at least one significant external partner” has helped change the “not invented here” mindset to one of “proudly found elsewhere.” Other efforts, such as the Alcan Packaging customer-centric Idea Factory, have been championed by those further down in the organization.

The quest for meaningful and relevant measures of OI return on investment continues. Director of Capital Investments and Innovation Strategy at Embarq, Jeff Stafford, shared an interesting approach based on Monte Carlo simulation in which potential sell scenarios and associated cash flows were used to determine the viability of an idea. And Brian Johnston, Director of External Alliances for Kodak, presented a six-question evaluative framework Kodak and its partners used to jointly define success.

Yet for me one theme rose above the others, which Jeff Bellairs, G-Win Director for General Mills, captured in a wonderfully simple phrase: “Open Innovation is not about being external. It’s about being connected.” Jason Husk, Group Manager Technology Brokerage for Clorox, supported this stance and presented a symbiotic relationship between technology, consumers, and business results as a model for connection. And Chris Thoen announced P&G’s launch of Connect + Develop 2.0 OI model through which the company will focus on collaborating with partners for mutual value creation.

It appears companies are successfully working through initial OI issues related to internal sell-in of OI as a good idea and decisions on the right partners to consider. Now they’re progressing to the next stage and addressing the kinds of relationships to have with partners and the appropriate ways to foster them.

With connection as the tactic for implementing an OI strategy, true collaboration between a company and its partners – whether they’re universities, other firms, customers, or consumers – becomes more possible.


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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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