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jerryking : brainstorming   23

To Be a Better Leader, Ask Better Questions
May 9, 2019 | WSJ | By Hal Gregersen. Dr. Gregersen is executive director of the MIT Leadership Center, a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and author of “Questions Are the Answer.”

1. Understand what kinds of questions spark creative thinking. The best questions really knock down barriers to creative thinking and channel energy down new, more productive pathways. A question that does has five traits. It reframes the problem. It intrigues the imagination. It invites others’ thinking. It opens up space for different answers. And it’s nonaggressive—not posed to embarrass, humiliate or assert power over the other party. Ask employees: “What are you wrestling with and how can I help?” Ask customers and supply-chain partners: “If you were in my shoes, what would you be doing differently than what you see us doing today?”
2. Create the habit of asking questions. in the early stages of building your questioning capacity, it’s helpful to start by copying other people’s questions. It’s the equivalent of practicing your scales. Once you’ve got the scales down, you can start to improvise..... management thinker Peter Drucker, liked to jump-start strategic thinking by asking: “What changes have recently happened that don’t fit ‘what everyone knows’ ”?

Another example: A leader in a consumer packaged-goods company constantly asks: “What more can we do to delight the customer at the point of purchase? And what more to delight them at the point of consumption?”......builds the habit of thinking in questions, which, in turn, leads to daily inquiry about matters large and small, and an organization that keeps pushing its competitive advantages forward.
3. Fuel that habit by making yourself generate new questions...... generate new and better questions, not to cap your questioning career at the level of playing flawless scales.
4. Respond with the power of the pause. When someone comes to you with a problem, don’t immediately respond with an answer. ........Instead, make it your habit to respond with a question—ideally one that reframes the problem, but at least one that draws out more of your colleague’s thoughts on the matter. ....not talking about the cop-out rejoinder of, “Well, what do YOU think we should do?” Help the person think through how the decision should be made, with questions like: “What are we optimizing for?” “What’s the most important thing we have to achieve with whatever direction we take?” Or: “What makes this decision so hard? What problem felt like this in the past?” You'll be teaching your colleagues the value of pausing to get the question right before rushing to the answer. And nine times out of 10, you’re going to wind up with a better answer than the one you would have blurted out with less deliberation.
5. Brainstorm for questions. Whenever you/ your team finds itself at an impasse, or there is a sense that some insight is eluding you regarding a problem or opportunity, just stop and spend four minutes generating nothing but questions about it--question bursts. Don’t spend a second answering the questions, or explaining why you posed a certain one. As in brainstorming, go for high volume and do no editing in progress. See if you can generate at least 15-20.
6. Reward your questioners. Bosses should reconceive what their primary job is. They aren’t there to come up with today’s best answers, or even just to get their teams to come up with them. Their job is to build their organization’s capacity for constant innovation.
Their enterprise’s future—and their own career trajectory—depends on their resolve to ask better questions.
books  brainstorming  creativity  creative_thinking  follow-up_questions  habits  imagination  innovation  leaders  nonaggressive  organizational_capacity  Peter_Drucker  Philip_Mudd  power_of_the_pause  problem_definition  problem_framing  questions  strategic_thinking 
may 2019 by jerryking
How the modern office is killing our creativity
March 14, 2019 | | Financial Times | by Pilita Clark.

Roger Mavity and Stephen Bayley, the design guru, have published "How to Steal Fire", ....a book on one of the most eagerly sought qualities in the business world: creativity. Companies buffeted by a storm of digital disruption and competitive pressures have embraced the need for creative thinking with gusto in recent years, which marks a turnaround......CEOs have talked ....about the importance of innovation (i.e. the implementation of new ideas), but far less attention has been devoted to figuring out how to foster creativity itself.....“The first thing that helps creativity is solitude,” “Creativity is essentially an individual rather than a collective activity.” Sir Isaac Newton was a case in point....The great thoughts that helped him go on to formulate the theory of gravity came after the Great Plague closed his university (Cambridge) and he spent nearly two years shut away in his home in Lincolnshire......When he was running Microsoft, Bill Gates used to head off by himself to a secluded hideaway twice a year for what he called Think Week.....Mavity says: “If you need to produce an idea, isolating yourself can be enormously beneficial.”......“How you do that in a big open-plan office with 100 other people trying to be creative at the same time?.......Solitude is in hopelessly short supply at a time when companies are captivated by the financial allure of the open-plan office and its evil twin, hot-desking. ....The idea that great creative thoughts come from teamwork, brainstorming and the ever-present away day is one of the “great myths” of creativity......the Ringelmann effect, named after a French engineer, Max Ringelmann, who first observed that individual productivity falls as group size increases. Away days can be useful for helping people get to know each other better, but not for generating ideas, said Mr Mavity. As his book puts it: “Brainstorming produces, at best, a light, irritating drizzle of complacent mediocrity.”....smart companies understand the need for focused concentration [JCK: sustained inquiry]...what should executives be doing to foster creativity?....“They have to walk the talk,” ....leaders need to set clear goals and then give people doing creative work the time, resources and autonomy to achieve them....Managers must be genuinely open to new thoughts and make sure good ideas are fostered. “None of it is rocket science or brain surgery,” “But you have to pay attention on a regular basis to whether people have these things.”
advertising  billgates  books  brainstorming  creativity  disruption  ergonomics  innovation  Isaac_Newton  myths  pay_attention  solitude  sustained_inquiry  teams  workplaces  ideas  open-plan 
march 2019 by jerryking
The Power of ‘Why?’ and ‘What If?’ - The New York Times
JULY 2, 2016 | New York Times | By WARREN BERGER.

business leaders want the people working around them to be more curious, more cognizant of what they don’t know, and more inquisitive — about everything, including “Why am I doing my job the way I do it?” and “How might our company find new opportunities?”....Companies in many industries today must contend with rapid change and rising uncertainty. In such conditions, even a well-established company cannot rest on its expertise; there is pressure to keep learning what’s new and anticipating what’s next. It’s hard to do any of that without asking questions.

Steve Quatrano, a member of the Right Question Institute, a nonprofit research group, explains that the act of formulating questions enables us “to organize our thinking around what we don’t know.” This makes questioning a good skill to hone in dynamic times.....So how can companies encourage people to ask more questions? There are simple ways to train people to become more comfortable and proficient at it. For example, question formulation exercises can be used as a substitute for conventional brainstorming sessions. The idea is to put a problem or challenge in front of a group of people and instead of asking for ideas, instruct participants to generate as many relevant questions as they can.......Getting employees to ask more questions is the easy part; getting management to respond well to those questions can be harder.......think of “what if” and “how might we” questions about the company’s goals and plans........Leaders can also encourage companywide questioning by being more curious and inquisitive themselves.
5_W’s  asking_the_right_questions  questions  curiosity  humility  pretense_of_knowledge  unknowns  leadership  innovation  idea_generation  ideas  information_gaps  cost_of_inaction  expertise  anticipating  brainstorming  dynamic  change  uncertainty  rapid_change  inquisitiveness  Dr.Alexander's_Question  incisiveness  leaders  companywide 
july 2016 by jerryking
Looking for the Big Picture
By: Jakobson, Leo, Successful Meetings, 01484052, Nov2012By: Jakobson, Leo, Successful Meetings, 01484052, Nov2012

GET TOP EXECS BRAINSTORMING WITH THESE CREATIVE MEETING STRATEGIES

When Paul Fa...
ideacity  brainstorming  meetings  the_big_picture 
november 2013 by jerryking
Clear Conscience -- Clear Profit - WSJ.com
September 29, 2006 | WSJ | By N.R. NARAYANA MURTHY.

Our experience has shown there are five elements of success in today's global marketplace:

(1) Listen to other people's ideas, especially those of the younger generations. Devise ways of management to tap the brilliance of young minds. Some of our best ideas grew from monthly "Ideation Days," brainstorming sessions led by employees under 30. Keep doors open. Let young workers walk into senior managers' offices to present their ideas without going through "proper channels." Retire early enough to give younger people a chance to take responsibility while still enthusiastic.
(2) Maintain meritocracy. Build a company where people of different nationalities, genders and religions compete in an environment of intense competition and total courtesy. Do this by using data to decide which ideas are adopted. Our motto: "In God we trust. Everyone else brings data to the table."
(3) Benchmark yourself against internal and external competitors to make sure you are doing everything faster today than you did yesterday, or last quarter.
(4) Continue to develop better ideas. Build something great, and then break it to build something better. Never fear being insufficiently focused on a single core business. As long as your most brilliant people are continuously experimenting with the best services to provide to customers, the results will turn out right in the end.
(5) Maintain pressure to implement the best ideas with ever-higher levels of excellence.

Leadership is key to inspiring employees to make these elements part of their daily lives. The golden core of leadership is the ability to raise aspirations. Aspiration doesn't just build companies, it builds civilizations. It changes a set of ordinary people into a team of extraordinary talents, empowering them to convert plausible impossibilities into convincing possibilities.
aspirations  benchmarking  brainstorming  CEOs  data_driven  experimentation  globalization  ideas  ideation  idea_generation  India  Infosys  ksfs  leadership  listening  meritocratic  millennials 
november 2012 by jerryking
Improving your brainstorming skills
Jul. 29 2012 | The Globe and Mail | HARVEY SCHACHTER.

Think independently: Brainstorming focuses on collaboration – the group. But it’s important before you begin that joint sculpting of ideas to make sure you are inspiring a good selection of ideas as a foundation. So carve out some time at the beginning for individuals to each come up with his or her own ideas.

Share ideas: Compile all those ideas in one document and make them available to the group by e-mail or a sharing system such as a wiki. When everybody sees the menu of ideas, it might stimulate further thinking (and ideas).

Review separately: Before the group starts working together, have each person take notes on the other ideas, setting out the potential advantage they offer. Note that at this point, the team has still not worked together in a group format.

Discuss together: Now comes the time we usually rush to, where everyone comes together for a meeting. Have each person nominate the ideas that seem the most promising, and then discuss the pros and cons. Mr. Markman believes that because each person reviewed the ideas independently, you will have a better discussion and end result.
brainstorming  collaboration  grouping  idea_generation  ideas  independent_viewpoints 
july 2012 by jerryking
Thinking ‘Outside the Box’ Wastes Time
November 28, 2007 |The Informed Reader - WSJ | Robin Moroney.

managers are at their most creative when focused on specific, provocative questions. This brings out the best in people who are used to being creative within limits, while also keeping the ideas within the realm of the possible.

Ideally, the questions should force managers to approach their product or business from an unconventional direction, and should be carefully selected before the sessions have even begun. Instead of asking generic questions like “How could we cut costs?” a supervisor could ask “What element of our business would we have to eliminate to cut costs 50%, and are there customers who do not need that element?”

As another hint, the authors recommend dividing any large brainstorming meeting into groups of four people, to encourage shy individuals to talk and blowhards to listen to them.
brainstorming  creativity  howto  specificity  questions  unconventional_thinking  constraints  out-of-the-box 
april 2012 by jerryking
Business Advice: 14 Things I Wish I Could Have Told Myself at 25
August 24, 2011 | BNET | By Jeff Haden
1. Everybody wants something.
2. What a few people want is just to feel good about helping others.
3. Everything before “but” is bull.
4. Boring people win.
5. Stop brainstorming and start borrowing.
6. The women you really want to meet don’t care about the kind of car you drive. Darn it.
7. Training is great; advice is not.
8. Visibility is everything.
9. Always take out something.
10. The people who say the least have the most to say.
11. Your parents are a lot smarter than you think.
12. Always learn on the fly.
13. Don’t expect to get back what you give.
14. You will only regret what you decide not do.
advice  brainstorming  jck  Jeff_Haden  indispensable  lessons_learned  life_skills  regrets  unglamorous  visibility 
august 2011 by jerryking
The business of brainstorms
Apr. 29, 2010 | Globe and Mail | Chris Nuttall-Smith.
Canadian inventor Robert Dickie and his firm, Spark Innovations, are
doing just fine...Spark offers contract innovation working on between 70
and 80 projects every year. Nearly 80% of its business is contract
work: development, prototyping and intellectual property assistance.
brainstorming  innovation  Outsourcing  inventors  prototyping 
april 2011 by jerryking
Beyond Eureka
October 9, 2009| BusinessWeek | By Amy Barrett. Looking for a
great business idea? These five steps will take you from blank slate to
booming. Step 1: Set The Stage; Step 2: Let the Ideas Fly; Step 3:
Picking a Winner; Step 4: Feasibility; Step 5: The Prototype.
ideas  idea_generation  brainstorming  entrepreneur 
june 2010 by jerryking
A Wandering Mind Heads Toward Insight - WSJ.com
JUNE 19, 2009 | Wall Street Journal | by ROBERT LEE HOTZ.

the crucial role of insight is a cherished theme. To these epiphanies, we owe the concept of alternating electrical current, the discovery of penicillin, and on a less lofty note, the invention of Post-its, ice-cream cones, and Velcro. The burst of mental clarity can be so powerful that, as legend would have it, Archimedes jumped out of his tub and ran naked through the streets, shouting to his startled neighbors: "Eureka! I've got it."

In today's innovation economy, engineers, economists and policy makers are eager to foster creative thinking among knowledge workers. Until recently, these sorts of revelations were too elusive for serious scientific study.....Lately, though, researchers have been able to document the brain's behavior during Eureka moments by recording brain-wave patterns and imaging the neural circuits that become active as volunteers struggle to solve anagrams, riddles and other brain teasers.

To be sure, we've all had our "Aha" moments. They materialize without warning, often through an unconscious shift in mental perspective that can abruptly alter how we perceive a problem. "An 'aha' moment is any sudden comprehension that allows you to see something in a different light," says psychologist John Kounios at Drexel University in Philadelphia. "It could be the solution to a problem; it could be getting a joke; or suddenly recognizing a face. It could be realizing that a friend of yours is not really a friend."

These sudden insights, they found, are the culmination of an intense and complex series of brain states that require more neural resources than methodical reasoning.
Aha!_moments  brainstorming  creativity  daydreaming  epiphanies  human_brains  insights  imagination  knowledge_workers  mapping  mental_dexterity 
june 2009 by jerryking
A List Apart: Articles: Saving the Spark: Developing Creative Ideas
June 03, 2008
Saving the Spark: Developing Creative Ideas
by Mark Boulton
ideas  brainstorming  creativity 
april 2009 by jerryking
Companies Corral Staff for In-house Brainstorming
March 12, 2009, 5:00PM EST | Business Week | By Reena Jana

Best Buy, Whirlpool, and others sequester workers to live and think
together in hopes they'll hatch ideas for the real (corporate) world.
Perhaps cross-pollinate Web 2.0 folks + traditional Canadian industries.
corporate  intrapreneurship  dormitories  residences  brainstorming  idea_generation 
march 2009 by jerryking
reportonbusiness.com: Changing Gears
April 25, 2008 | Globe & Mail | by JOSHUA KNELMAN. Their
goal: Improve the experience of cancer patients at Toronto's Princess
Margaret Hospital. GEAR 1 DEEP USER UNDERSTANDING - Grichko and Leung
spent weeks hanging around PMH. GEAR 2 IDEATION AND PROTOTYPING The team
sat down with 20 PMH staffers—managers, surgeons, nurses and support
workers. "The idea of brainstorming is to have no limits—think big,"
says Leung. GEAR 3 STRATEGIC BUSINESS DESIGN Grichko and Leung asked
two key questions: "What do we need, and what's possible?" The answer
was simple: to create a better waiting-room chair
brainstorming  design  design_thinking  furniture  hospitals  idea_generation  ideation  innovation  MBAs  observations  OCAD  product_design  prototyping  Rotman  strategic_thinking  thinking_big 
february 2009 by jerryking
FT.com / Columnists / Luke Johnson - Ideas for challenging times
Published: June 17 2008 FT column By Luke Johnson looking at
how emerging companies can generate new ideas. Recommends a little book
called A Technique for Producing Ideas by James Webb Young. Its thesis
is both simple and applicable to many sorts of problems. The central
premise is that any new idea is in fact only a fresh combination of old
elements, plus the ability to see new relationships between known facts.
What every successful business needs is competent execution--you cannot
patent an idea and protect it from replication by a rival. Companies
are increasingly using their customers--social networking-- to help
design their products and improve their offerings.
books  brainstorming  execution  hard_times  ideas  idea_generation  Luke_Johnson  mental_dexterity  mind-mapping  serial_entrepreneur  social_networking  reinvention 
february 2009 by jerryking
Independent Street : To Solve a Problem, Try Asking Another Company
June 12, 2008 | Wall Street Journal | blog post by Wendy Bounds
on how company companies are traveling to meet with managers from other
companies that have solved problems similar to theirs.
learning_journeys  Gwendolyn_Bounds  business  innovation  entrepreneurship  ideas  problems  idea_generation  problem_solving  questions  brainstorming  learning_curves 
february 2009 by jerryking

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