Tap into your super powers #4 – Introducing innovation into a creative desert

Is your organisation culture great at saying no to EVERYTHING?

Is your creativity and innovation being blocked, stifled or left to stagnate?

If yes, then this learning note is for you!  It will provide you with some great tips for tapping into that innovative spirit to inspire those around you and give you an outlet for those awesome ideas you keep having.

The key learning point here is to : Be the role model innovation leader.  Be what you want most at work.
Lead, inspire, lead some more. Give it everything you have. 

Learning Prompts

Innovation and getting new ideas accepted and introduced into any organisation is always tough.  Often people will perceive that you are asking them to take a risk, make a courageous decision or even put their own job on the line.   Some cultures are more stifling than others. Even innovative organisations can have a ‘their way’ of doing innovation.   At some point in an organisation’s maturing face certain ways of behaving, acting and agreeing new ways of work become expected ways of work OR even acceptable vs non-acceptable ways of working.

Ask yourself:

  • What idea can be tested without sponsorship, resources or funding?
  • Do you say yes to new ideas?
  • Are you setting the example for change or fitting in and supporting the status quo?
  • Can you start yes whenever you can? (start by having a YES day)
  • Can you prove out your ideas and make them real in anyway you can?
  • How can you help you boss feel safe to say Yes?
  • Is YES really a safe thing for your team to say? If not, why not?
  • What behaviours need to shift to get a Yes?
  • What past war stories exist that you need to respond to?
  • Start leading saying YES to the new today!

What you do next is up to you…..
I’d love to hear from you, what you did do next? What did you say YES?  What did you ask for a YES to? What happened? How did you make someone feel safe to say YES?

Did you say YES to everything today?

Let me know here.

For extra reading, I recommend  Influence – They Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini. 

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Tap into you super powers #3: How to be creative when the box just doesn’t fit

Are you super creative and stuck in a super not-creative job?

Do you remember being creative when you were younger – writing scripts, painting, singing, playing the saxophone, making home movies, creating music but can’t remember the last time you got to do it?

Does your job feel like it is crushing your soul and your ‘creative’ outlet involves expletive ridden attempts to get visio arrows and lines to connect!!?

If yes, then this learning note is for you! It won’t help you with visio but it will provide you with some great tips for tapping into that creative energy again whether at work or in your non-work life. It’s time to start embracing creativity again.  Being an artist does not mean having to give up your day job.  This note includes learning prompts and a fun call to act.

The key learning point is to define what creative is for you.

Learning Prompts

Creativity is part of who we are. Don’t keep your creative self hidden, forgotten or pressed down.  Its an important part of  us.  The more I embrace my creativity, the more happy, fulfilled and fun I am.

Ask yourself:

  • Define what creative is for you
  • Write down all the assumptions you had about why it wasn’t a suitable job, outlet or pursuit for you
  • Put a line through them, burn the piece of paper (safely) – those assumptions are gone now
  • Write down all the feelings you can remember having when you expressed your creativity
  • Pick your favourite creative outlet
  • Start doing it today, as in right now!

Some more prompts and suggestions

If you like writing, open up evernote and write down 1 sentence that just comes to mind….. need a prompt:
– describe your first overseas travel tour
– describe the first day in your current job
– describe that time your saw your fave band for the first time ever!! LIVE!!
If you like art:
– book a time to go to the gallery (such as: Heide or NGV, if you’re in Melbourne)
– book a trip to visit MONA in Tasmania
– open up pintrest and create an art based vision board
– find your old paints and draw a circle.

If you like music:
– find your old instrument
– create a top 10 list of music you’d like to learn to play or sing
– book tickets to a local band, festival
– go down to your local to see up and coming bands
– write down 5 ideas for a song
– book into a musical
– sing in the shower – LOUDLY!!!

What you do next is up to you…..
I’d love to hear from you, what you did do next? Did you book something?  Write something? Play something?

Did you sing loudly in the shower?

Let me know by commenting on this post.

For extra reading, I recommend BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert – it’s a game changer!

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Tap into your super powers #2 – Turning frustration into your best work ever!

Are your best skills going to waste?

Are you a bit bored at work?

Are you under utilised and under appreciated?

If yes, then this learning note is for you! It will provide you with some great tips for turning that frustrated energy into a powerful tool to make you stand out at work, feel fulfilled and add more meaning to your job everyday, including: learning prompts, a case study example – going from frustrated to happy in exactly the same job and ideas on what steps to take next to get started.

The key learning point is to look at why and when you are frustrated and use that energy to design the role you want and started doing that role in your current job right now.  

Learning Prompts

To channel that frustration into something positive for yourself try to understand why you are frustrated, what triggers you and what type of work would ease that frustration.

Ask yourself:

  • What is the biggest problem facing your team, project or business?
  • What skills do you most want to use that could help solve this problem? And, how? 
  • What would this solution mean to your boss, customer, business?
  • Can you start working on this solution as part of your current role?
  • How can you get support for this idea?
  • Who could support to get this idea off the ground?
  • What would it take to make happen?
  • Do you need extra support or can you do this alone?
  • What would it mean to you to use these skill in this way?
  • How would you feel if you to used these skills everyday? 
  • What skills do you love using?
  • Could you integrate them in to HOW you do your job?

Case Study

As you know I love coaching but in my current role as a consultant I have very little opportunity for coaching as I don’t have direct reports.  This doesn’t stop me from taking on this role unofficially and people who are aware of my business regularly come to me for advice, coaching or to bounce ideas around.  One way I have incorporated my coaching skills into work is to use them to create really positive outcomes in workshops and meetings that I lead.  If you  have watched some of my facebook lives on managing meetings you will know that there have certainly been some ‘trials and tribulations’ with some ‘interesting’ behaviours in meetings.  This might sound a bit lateral and it is.  Using powerful listening techniques and skills to stay present and in the moment just makes meetings, workshops and how groups of humans functions so much better.

Some of the tools I use are questions (just like the prompts above).  Thoughtful and empathetic questions can be asked in 1:1 discussions or even to groups.  And, just sitting still with someone and really hearing them and not interrupting or making a judgement, really taking the time to respond to allow more silence in discussion creates a beautifully safe space for honesty, trust and empathy to build and grow.

Using these techniques has allowed me to create greater connection and also to be open to surprising compliments, advice or observations that I would have not been open to recieve otherwise.

What is the impact to me?

Work feels more meaningful.

I have a smile on my face as I head out of the station.

I come home feeling satisfied.

I sleep better.

Of course, I’d love to work full time as a coach and I’m building my business towards that goal (eventually.)  But I’m not in a rush and I love working in IT (what other profession could I spend my day talking Star Wars, Tesla, colonising Mars and robots, oh and strategising the adoption of the latest leading edge tech?).  By combining both passions and thinking laterally on how I can incorporate this skill set, I get the best of both worlds without feeling I have a passion and ‘real work’ in two different silos of my life.

Take Action

Next time you get super frustrated and think ‘If I only I could’….

Write down your thoughts!

And then?

Get planning, start testing out what you could do until you find something that just clicks day to day in your job. 

And then?

GO FOR IT!

Would you like to work more on developing this skill set?

Do you have career goals to work on that you would like support and coaching in?

Have you thought of getting your own career coach to help you take the next step in your career?

If yes, then find out more about the Tap into Your Power coaching series. 

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Tap into your super powers #1 – What to do when you keep getting told No

Key Learning point: The key learning point in this article is how to get a YES for your best ideas from your senior stakeholders (especially when you keep hearing a No to your good ideas).

To create this change you will need to create a compelling WHY to motivate a change of mind.  

And, we will also work through a case study on how do you get additional time and funding  approved.

Do your best ideas always get a no?

Do you find it hard to get endorsement for changes to scope, estimates, cost or resource hires?

If yes, then this post will help you do just that by providing you with:

  • learning prompts
  • case study example – going from a NO to a YES
  • ideas on next steps

Learning Prompts

To get a senior stakeholder to say yes (especially to anything involving a change in cost) you need to create a compelling why. A compelling WHY creates the motivation for someone to change their mind.

Ask yourself:

  • What is the biggest problem facing my stakeholder?
  • How does my idea help with this?
  • Can my idea help solve my stakeholder’s problem in someway?
  • What would it mean for this problem to be solved?
  • Who else will benefit?
  • How will it improve business outcomes (profit, strategy, financial, marketing, reputation etc) ?
  • Is my idea aligned to business strategy?
  • Has my idea been tried before?  (And, what happened?)
  • Are there quality reasons for pursuing something that has failed before?
  • What does this idea add or take away from my current role?

 

Case Study

In one Test Manager role I was in a few years ago, I had inherited an estimate that could be at best described as ‘optimistic’ but I would describe as ‘crazy’.

I decided to ask not for the 23 days (which had been approved) estimated but instead ask for approval of a 288 day estimate.

The Delivery Manager’s response: “You’d have to get the CIO to approve that’

My response: “Ok, I will get that!’

And… I did.

How?

  1. I researched what had happened in the past (the project had been tried and failed 3 times over 10 years due to a lack of or poor testing)
  2. I researched what a poor quality delivery would actually mean if implemented in production. The impact I found was : catastrophic business failure, regulatory breaches and huge (newspaper story worthy) customer financial loss
  3. I put a succinct options paper together – this was a 3 page slide pack with 3-4 bullet point per slide which succinctly stated option, risk, cost and recommendation (yes/no)
  4. I got the business sponsor to publicly back the best estimate to his General Manager  (this took some time to influence)
  5. I then presented the options paper to the steering committee which consisted of the CIO and the CEO’s direct reports
  6. And, the CIO approved the new estimate – in fact the whole committee did

How did I ‘win’ the argument?

I pitched every risk with a direct (yet implied) statement which if that risk came true would directly lead to the CIO losing his job. 

Because the risk that poor quality would create in a production environment was so great to the company, any realisation of this risk would mean business failure (or close too) and that would mean no more jobs for the CIO or the other members of the committee.

 

Extra context

For some context, I have well over 10 years technical estimation experience and I had the most experienced person on the programme run the numbers as well.  I knew the estimate was right.

I also knew to pursue the other estimate would lead to project failure or even (if the project actually got into production) potentially business failure. I had 100% faith in myself and my team that we were the best people to deliver this work and I had 100% belief that I could get the CIO’s approval with a fair argument for the new estimate.

 

Take Action

Next time you get a No, ask yourself – do I 100% believe in my proposal? And if the answer is yes, then ask the person who said No:

“What needs to happen to get a YES?”  

And then?

GO FOR IT!

Would you like to work more on developing this skill set?

Do you have career goals to work on that you would like support and coaching in?

Have you thought of getting your own career coach to help you take the next step in your career?

If yes, then find out more about my  Tap into Your Power coaching series. 

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