Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On elephants

Every job has its 'hard bits,' the things that are uncomfortable and messy to talk about - the elephants in the room. Most of us dislike conflict so we convince ourselves that it's best to just squish that elephant under the table and occasionally feed it scraps to keep it quiet.

It doesn't work, of course. The unspoken issue is always in the background, lurking, causing stress for everyone and probably growing bigger until one day, all hell breaks loose.

Taking on the hard bits is the job of leaders. When they're constructively addressed, it sends a clear message to the organization - 'It's okay to talk about anything here. Even the tough stuff. Especially the tough stuff. You can be honest and open. You and your concerns will be valued. You will be treated with gratitude and respect.'

Food for Thought
What elephants lurk in your organization? How would the atmosphere in your organization change if they were addressed openly, inclusively and honestly? Which elephant might you address this coming week? How will you go about it?

On seeing the positive

It's easy to focus on what's not working. We all do it. And often it makes sense to ask the questions 'What went wrong? What will we do next time to avoid that mistake?

But when 'what's not working' becomes the lens through which we view the world, it can lead the organization into a downward spiral of negative thinking, blame, and territorial and obstructive behaviour.

When we focus on the what's working and what's possible, a new world opens to us. We get energized, inspired and collaborative. Ideas abound, morale soars and productivity, creativity and risk-taking return.

Question for the Week
Choose a problem that you're faced with this week. Now turn it inside out. What does it look like when it's framed as a positive? Can you see possibilities that could move you forward? Invite others to explore possibilities. How did they respond?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

On great ideas

We often think of great ideas as a gift from the gods, a flash of brilliance that comes to us out of the dark. Far more often though, great ideas arise from conversations. Each of us has a different perspective, different knowledge and experience, and a different brain. When we come together in conversation, one idea spawns another, and then another. Sometimes the thing you arrive at together is completed so quickly and is so innovative it takes the breath away. How did we do that, you might ask? It's the magic of conversation.

Question for the Week
Are you and your staff spending too much time trying to reinvent the wheel on your own? How could you make conversation a regular and inviolate part of your staff's daily routine? How would the quality and quantity of your work change if much of it was done as a team in conversation? What could you do this week to explore changes to the way you work with your colleagues?