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)

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!

Spring Cleaning for Your Team

Add some extra Team Performance with some “Spring Cleaning.” Try it, you’ll like it!

I was looking at Martha Stewart’s Spring Cleaning Checklist and it inspired me to do a little spring cleanup with my teams.  Here are 5 ideas that have the power to create a stronger, more successful team for you.

1. Clean the Windows Reconnect to & Re-Clarify your Team Vision, Goals and/or Desired Outcomes.   Schedule  time together to focus on your team vision or outcome.  Has it evolved?  Is everyone working toward that same outcome?  What would make each team member feel successful at the end of the team’s work together or even at a intermediate step? Special tip!  Have each member imagine their success as part of this team and write down 1-3 things personally and professionally to share with the team.  This engages the whole person and connects them personally to the work.  By sharing with others they see common ideas and can support each other.

2. Clean Out the Clutter – Identify Priorities and Key Steps toward each Goal.  What are the team’s priorities, member priorities?  Are there key steps toward the Goal?  One of my team’s recently started working with PICK FOUR by Seth Godin using Zig Ziglar’s wisdom.  Kinda fun, hard work … definitely a way to get through the clutter!

3. Dust & Vacuum Bring clarity to your landscape.  It’s always good to keep up with dusting and vacuuming, ie checking your assumptions and hypotheses, adding new questions and checking  off old ones,  understanding your team challenges and even team supports.  Another way to bring clarity is through the Drexler-Sibbet Team Performance Model.  Where is your team on the model, what is working well, anything unresolved?

4. Ensure Fire Safety – Engage external support and Review alternate scenarios.  I love this idea!  Are you actively working with your external stakeholders?  Is everyone in the team keeping their external supporters engaged in the work the team is accomplishing?  And,  are team members communicating a unified story outside the team?  Does the external environment require you to have alternate plans?

5. Organize, Organize, Organize – Make your work as a Team EASIER.  What would make the work easier?  Start with a conversation about how each team member gets their work done best will spark some ideas.  I did a little ‘spring cleaning’ with my IdeaConnect printing group and through our conversation we had some great ideas to inspire EASE with some added some efficiency, and a little magic! (And, We love magic!!)

So what’s your favorite approach to Spring Cleaning?  And, how might you apply to the teams you lead or participate in? Please share!  We’d all benefit from your tried and true approaches and ideas!

PS – If you’re wondering how to bring a visual element to team spring cleaning, try the Team StartUp kit (or should I say Team Re-StartUp Kit)

The Elemental Art and Practice of Facilitation

I’ve been preparing for our 2012 LearningConnect Facilitator training sessions. Thought I’d share what’s at the core of all our offerings – the Elements of the Art and Practice of Facilitative Leadership. 

These core, essential ingredients represent a powerful synthesis of the teachings of my teacher and business coach Lisa Michaels’ Elemental Forces of Creation and David Sibbet’s Grove’s Facilitation Model and the Four Flows. I’ve been playing with, working with and internalizing both these sets of teachings for years to deepen my own understanding.  And in applying to my personal facilitative practice, and every day life, I’m sharing what I’ve learned with you and everyone who attends our workshops and training.

Here’s a little bit of an introduction:

  • the Element of Fire – Managing Attention and Action – How to energize grounded action. Enroll and orient to the desired outcomes. Set the energetic movement for a session and add energy to keep things moving. Illuminate new learning through application to real business. Activate the power of practical action in a facilitative environment.
  • the Element of Water – Managing Energy – How to feel into the emotional flow as participants learn and apply new information to their work. Invite full participation, build trust in the process and support any resistance to change in order to gain full alignment. Respond to unanticipated change with ease and flexibility. Develop emotional maturity. Understand the power of love to work internally and externally as a facilitative leader.
  • the Element of Air – Managing Information – How to engage and stimulate the mental realm. Set personal intention. Provide clarity around learning outcomes and objectives. Combine technology and low tech / high connect approaches to direct the flow of learning. Engage the power of intention to guide your facilitative leadership.
  • the Element of Earth – Managing Operations and Ownership – How to coordinate the physical details necessary for planning and delivering successful programs. Build commitment to the process and actions to be taken. Transfer ownership through ongoing coaching. Align to the power to stand on your own as a facilitative leader.
  • and Spirit – Actualizing your Unique Facilitative Leader Self – Identify and express your unique, authentic characteristics and creative essence as a facilitative leader.

Interest peaked just a bit? Want to know a little more? Want to successfully bring the Elements of Facilitation into your own life and your own work more consciously? Drop us a note or come join us at one of our upcoming training or workshop events soon.