Be Energized by Life

I just came out of an 18 month cocooning (aka sabbatical … aka I don’t want to move and no one can make me). Eighteen months is a long time for any practice, and one requiring a certain degree of stillness can begin to feel like stuck-ness. And now everything I’m doing feels like BIG movement (at least most days compared to being still).

So what happened? What suddenly brought me out of my quiet stillness?

Gentle (and not so gentle) invitations by friends to come back out into the world and a few kicks in the rear. Oh, and lots of amazingly restorative time in the peace of nature and letting the sun shower me with radiant love. That always works for me! I even rode a bike on the beach!! Thank you @terrystankovits @ellystankovits and @suschilders @wemccormck

So when you need to, how do you access more energy to get unstuck and get moving?

#energy #energize #fire #actionrealm #elementsofleadership #facilitativeleadership #getunstuck #getmoving #cocooningtimeisover

If you want to be part of what I’m up to, check out my daily Elements of Leadership posts on Instagram @beideaconnect

SO WHAT? – AN IDEATION CHALLENGE

‘SO WHAT?’ Two words that are a reciprocal challenge (dictionary term) to inspire people to identify what has heart and meaning for them.  A slightly irreverent, ‘what are you gonna do?’

‘SO WHAT?’ Two words that evolve team conversation to the next step – ACTION.  And it works so much better than asking ‘why?’ The word, ‘why,’ stops idea flow and causes people to defend their ideas rather than evolve them.

And so, we created a visual thinking tool that encourages ‘So What?’ conversations.

The So What visual thinking cool tool can:

  • Ground your team’s synthesis of information in its key insights to build knowledge.
  • Provide a forum for dialogue about what are the most important actions for the team to take.

You can play with what headings you want to use for the sections –  use product or service areas as titles, identify important areas to create ideas from your key learnings.

Think simple for your headings – sometime a simple approach for a team discussion when there are lots of ideas is to create headings such as:

  • Start Doing, Stop Doing, and Do More
  • What’s Working, What’s Not Working, Wishes

10.0-So-What_L-30 SoWhatFilledInTry a ‘SO WHAT’ approach at your next team meeting to enable the Facilitative Leader in you!

Inspire Breakthrough Action

Fire up your leadership and visibility in your organization by engaging powerful conversations about who your customer is and what are possible product, package, and communication ideas.

The Implications & Applications cool tool can:

  • Generate team energy to collaboratively create breakthrough ACTION ideas.
  • Immerse others directly in your team’s learning and enliven ideation sessions.
  • Engage key stakeholders through interactive deployment of team learning and enroll them to help build what’s possible.
  • Build acceptance of new knowledge and ownership of your team’s outcomes throughout your organization.

Enhance the ability of this template to fire up conversation by paying attention to the details –

  • Preparation – what is the goal for your work with this cool tool? What might you fill out before a meeting OR should sub teams create it during the meeting?  A tip – only fill out the left side beforehand and leave the right side for ideation.
  • Materials – make them available – colorful sticky notes inspire joy and creativity, sharpies and markers are a must. You might even consider pictures, images and quotes that represent your customers and their experiences and desires. Don’t forget any complimentary templates that support Implications and Applications, like All About Me and Gap Analysis.
  • State of Heart &  Mind – Enjoy your conversational journey, engage lots of ideas, and be open; expectant to make an impact that enhances your business. A tip – power dot ideas if you need to make priorities and discover where team energy lies.

 

JUST ADD PICTURES

“You cannot depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus.” – Mark Twain

We love to work with pictures in all sorts of ways!  Because truth be told, they can sometimes be worth even more than 1,000 words. They enhance our creativity to improve communication, generate new ways of thinking, jump-start stalled projects, and take us to places we didn’t know we could go to amp up our imagination.

We built pictures into our facilitation practice and the teams we work with asked for them, so we created the Let the Picture Pick You Deck, inspiring images that can transport you to new places of understanding and knowledge.

Pic_Deck_l.jpg_1

Here’s some Team Activities to get your started with pictures:

“Getting to Know You’ Warm Up – Invite each team member to choose a picture that represents something about themselves. Ask them to find someone else they don’t know very well. Then instruct everyone to share with their picture and how it represents them to their partner (share only what they want to). Invite everyone to switch partners and share again. Repeat one more time, then have everyone share one thing about themselves to the whole group.

Pulse Check – Invite each team member to choose a picture that captures how they are feeling and/or what they are thinking.  Ask everyone to share in pairs, clusters or with the full group.

Envisioning Success – Invite each team member to choose a picture that represents their personal BEST and BRIGHTEST expectations for the meeting or project. Give everyone a few moments to think of a title for their picture.  One by one, ask each person to share their picture, title and what Success Looks Like for them.  After everyone has shared, as a team, identify the common elements of success and capture on a chart pad or graphic template such as Circle Around or Success Looks Like.

Just add pictures and enjoy the boost in team CREATIVITY!

Working Visually – PPCO (creativity lingo:)

We love all things visual and creative!  An all- time favorite template, Top of the Mountain, is simple yet empowers conversations that create knowledge and inspired action.

The “Top of the Mountain” graphic allows you to use visual thinking to refine, develop or assess what’s working/not working about an idea. Working as a team you quickly and visually sort out what’s working, see what other potential it might have, articulate any problems or concerns and then immediately apply solutions (or opportunities). The visual metaphor allows groups the freedom to explore the good, knowing they’ll have a chance to play the critic and voice their concerns to build it into something better.

TOMimage

This versatile template can hold the space and focus conversation to make things better, improve an idea, and provide constructive feedback. Here is one way to work with Top of the Mountain in the Development phase of innovation. Often referred to in the creativity field as PPCO, here’s how we make it visual:

  1. Focus on the Positive, what works or the benefits (represented by the reaching the “Top of the Mountain”). Encourage everyone to stay open to how the idea might be great. The team identifies all of the things that are good about the idea or address the challenge, to reach the goal*.
  2. Then, identify the Possibilities or other things that might be peeking out from behind the cloud like a ray of sunshine. What aren’t you sure about, but see as potential.
  3. Next (and this is crucial) – air all Concerns (on the mountain range). Play devil’s advocate about all of the reasons the idea might not work, make notes of what needs to be overcome in order to reach the summit.
  4. The final step is to utilize the pathway for all possible solutions and Opportunities. Work with the team to identify one or more possible solutions to each of the concerns on the mountain. What information do you need or what additional features need to be included?
  5. Now step back and look at the bigger picture, what do you notice and where does passion and creativity lead the group, where does it inspire you? It’s time to converge and move forward with the refined and improved idea (plus a bunch more new ideas too).

This favorite tool is simple and so effective. Who’s ready to give it a shot and see some amazing results?

*(we love to use sticky notes – with one idea on each. More about this on our website)

CREATIVITY IN A CIRCLE

Circle Arounds are one of our favorite visual thinking tools. When we bring them to a team work session, creativity sparks, connections are discovered, and deeper understanding happens in a short period of time. It is the holistic, simplicity of a circle that supports gathering themes, brainstorming ideas, mind mapping. It also allows freedom to choose where to go deeper into connections to engage the group.

The BIGGER the BETTER for a Circle Around. Wall size is what we like to use, 4′ x 3′ – on the walls or on the tables. With one circle around there is a focal point and with several, there can be a conversation cafe.

Imagine what you and your team of ideators will learn if the work in small groups with a circle around, then step back and see the patterns, move from table to table (or wall to wall), have discussion about the common connections and themes, bring your seed ideas into focus, and converge on the top most intriguing or most stretching ideas … and then create action steps.

We just love CIRCLE AROUND templates. Magic!

Fast, Powerful, Incredible

I just had an overwhelmingly powerful team experience in my small town community.

Over 5 weeks,  8 core team members met with 25 people a total of 6 hours face to face;  connected with 50 people by email; and inspired 100 volunteers to support a dinner fundraiser that raised $28,000 (the goal was $10,000).  Why was this so FAST and POWERFUL?  We

  • HAD VISION AND AN OUTCOME – support a local family in need financially, emotionally and physically.
  • SHARED OUR UNIQUE GIFTS – we had facilitative leaders that created structure, inspired others to give, followed their own passion and hundreds of others followed – and Super Cool T-Shirts really helped people get involved.
  • SPENT TIME TOGETHER, reflectively and actively – Our first informal get together to discuss how to support our friend instantly became once a week work sessions, one hour at a time.  We split our time together between REFLECTION and ACTION.
  • DIDN’T SKIP THE TEAM & PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT WORK (REFLECTION).  This is important.  Some wanted to skip it and they pushed hard, but we gently asked them to participate. This is how you speed up your process!  Don’t let your busyness, your GO FAST energy lead you down a path that skips this part.  This is when and how people get to know each other, begin to trust each other, begin to know they are connected even if they didn’t feel a connection before. We made it easy, something different each week —  draw a picture from the Let the Picture Pick You Deck to represent a successful fundraiser,  pick an Angel from the Angel Deck to hold during the week as you approached the work,  pick a quote and share your own awareness of yourself right now.  Not too hard and very powerful.
  • COMMUNICATED ORGANICALLY — There were amazing communicators and they came forward, fully.  They are the people that share and build ideas in the moment with others that then share and build ideas with more people, who then think, link and build ideas into action.  There was no ego or turf owning, just pure desire to accomplish the vision and outcome.  Communicating involved a email, texting, conversations during walks, shared documents online – if you haven’t used dropbox or google drive you might want to try them.

REAL RESULTS:  Dinners were served to the family every weekday night, the first fundraiser brought in $28,000.  8 core team members met together with another 15 people for only 6 hours over 5 weeks, communicated out and gathered 100 volunteers (including kids!).  We served 800+ dinners, auctioned 100 baskets and 12 big ticket items, and inspired real community.  We also spent time together in gratitude by writing 200 thank yous!

Our friend and her family are feeling our love!  We all enjoyed the power of an aligned team!  I got to continue building my facilitative leadership mastery and I made some new friends along the way. As I said, overwhelmingly  powerful team experience.

 

We GRReW!

One of the things I love about managing the IdeaConnect E-store are the practices we’ve created to give our customers the best service ever.  One of those processes is something I call GRReW, stands for Give, Receive, Reflect & Wonder. Basically, when an employee comes to work, they take 10 minutes or so to be really HERE, be available for customers.

The important steps…

  1. GIVE something that recently captured their attention or represents a recent life experience- a picture, a quote, a note, a thing and put it in the GRReW box.
  2. RECEIVE  (Pick) something from the box that attracts their attention.
  3. REFLECT or Journal for a few minutes to the prompt, RIGHT NOW I AM AWARE OF…
  4. WONDER, write a question on a sticky note to put on the WALL calendar.

It connects us to ourselves, the present moment and to each other in a way that fosters amazing work.

I was very touched by a recent journal entry and wanted to share.  Here’s an excerpt from Mallory’s GRReW (she agreed to share)….

Beaded Star

‘I took something from the box today that I normally wouldn’t: a beautiful flower made of wire, covered with beads. I’m almost certain that someone in this house made it…The flower is red and has gold beads at every meeting/crossing point. I wonder who came up with the design for the flower. When I think about the meeting points…I think about people being together. When people meet, their lives are sometimes intertwined and a new life is created. In the flower, there are several places where the solo strands continue on by themselves after the connection with another strand, but are reconnected at the end of it all…’

Her subsequent question about relationships and connections was one for all of us to sit with and discuss, I appreciated she started the day aware of beauty and connections.  Needless to say, the packages we shipped that day and that week were beautiful and full of anticipation how the products connected the receivers with others.

Here at IdeaConnect we all GRReW as individuals and as a team.

Where do you go to do inspired work?

Water is a Place of Inspiration

When focused, creative, deep thinking work is needed, where do you go to be inspired?

I find my routine office space just doesn’t fit the bill when I’m trying to synthesize information and knowledge.  That’s when I find a new place or time to empower my highest skills.  I …

  • take my work to the park. Of course, this really only works in the summer here in the north, if you want to be outside.  If you have a small team, consider renting a lodge for the day or a pavilion.
  • find another space at a different building within my company. If you work for a large company, they likely have rooms to reserve in different buildings.
  • go to a friend’s house, one that has their business in their home. Chances are they may have a space just right for spreading out for the day to do your deep thinking, alone or with a small team.
  • work in a different time of day, just for a specific project.  For me, it is early, early morning or late at night after everyone in my house has gone to sleep.
  • break the work into chunks and inspire my creativity with seemingly unrelated activities that activate my right brain, such as taking a walk, collaging with magazine pictures, listening to Mozart, baking.  Those are my ways and you probably have different ways to activate your right brain.

Don’t be shy about making the space or time fit the important work you want to get done;  that is what keeps your business moving forward.

Let us know how you inspire your own magic,  we like to be inspired to take our own magic to higher and higher levels.

Are you Accessing the Power of NOW?

Recently I’ve really been tuning in to conversations I’m part of and conversations around me.  And, I became acutely aware that I’ve not been accessing the Power of Now … a lot of us aren’t. So, here’s what I asked myself:

What is our fascination with reliving our past stories, mostly those that are not our favorites?  And, why do we let the emotions of fear and anxiety of the past creep in and cloud our current experience?  How does our this focus on our past (particularly the negative past) impact and influence our communities, our organizations, our teams, even our families?

My awareness led me to reconnect with the teachings and writings of Eckhart Tolle. I started with the books I had.  A little search online gifted me with even more – a whole website of Tolle teachings with present moment reminders, free stuff and Tolle TV – a really cool place to go to create a renewed awareness that “NOW: is the space in which life happens.”

So, I started looking at all aspects of my life including my work as a graphic facilitator. And you know what?  I realized what I love most about graphic facilitation and graphic templates*. I realized how those BIG beautiful pieces of paper with an image of a mountain or a house or a circle, magically bring us to NOW in our conversations – what we know NOW, what we vision NOW, what each participant in the conversation is aware of NOW.  And the best part is through these visual tools, we create a record of the NOW so when we are in the next NOW we can simply be fully present there … NOW.  Woooo Whooo!

Want to access the power of NOW in your teams and groups? Try a graphic template or two (you can get them at the Grove or IdeaConnect stores) or hire a graphic recorder or a graphic facilitator or get out some big paper and draw a guide for conversation yourself.

Let us know what works and what you’re aware of NOW?   We promise, we’ll respond from our NOW.

* You know! Cool Tools – big paper on the walls with a graphic or metaphor to engage guided conversation!