Monday, June 2, 2008

Conferences 2008

AHRI 2008 was their best conference ever as far as speakers are concerned.
Some very interesting insights emerged and some of my main learning points are outlined below.
All across the speakers, I noted the links in their thinking to what LEGO Serious Play achieves and when it comes to thinking creatively, LEGO Serious Play methodology is where all of this great thinking has the possibility of becoming a reality.

1. Daniel Pink

Daniel is the best-selling author of 'A Whole New Mind' and he looked at the 6 abilities that we need in this fast-moving world.
Brains are complex and one side specialises in linear, sequential and rational thinking while the other side looks more at the context and not only the text.
Our jobs used to be best suited to functions of the left side of the brain where we could follow things step by step and where analysing spreadsheets was important.
But this is no longer sufficient.
Big picture thinking through the metaphorical right brain is as important and if we don't value this function of the brain, we will be left behind our competitors.
The world balance has shifted as a result of
  • Abundance
  • Asia
  • Automation
Our rate of consumption is incredible compared with for example 60 years ago when few households had a fridge. How many people now in the first world go without computers, mobile phones, microwaves and the list goes on... Not so long ago, in 1990, only 2% of households had a mobile phone.
Now in Australia, we are a population of 21.1 million with 21.26 million mobile phones.
Companies competing in this environment are looking to give the world something that they didn't know they were missing - the IPod strategy!
If we are to take bold and inventive leaps, or take something functional and infuse it with something unusual, we will not achieve this through left thinking alone.
Asia is also causing us to off-shore routine functions. India will be the largest English speaking country in the world and together with free telephony, any function that can be reduced and written down with a right answer will be done by Indians at a lower charge-out rate.
Automation where software in fact takes over some the sequential operations of a business, is going to be outsourced to other parts of the globe.
So what do we need to do to overcome these challenges?
We need:
  • Design
  • Story
  • Symphony
  • Empathy
  • Play
  • Meaning
1. Design
When General Motors lost 10 Billion Dollars in one year, Bob Lutz, CEO said about having to turn the business around:
"We are now in the arts and entertainment business and we are putting a huge emphasis on design."
Design is what is so important in terms of solving problems - we should be keeping a design notebook and keeping notes on good and bad design - this should be a fundamental business literacy.
Again - linking this to LEGO Serious Play thinking we play out in the real world what is happening in the mind!

2. Story
Get your organisations telling stories...
(Is this not where LEGO Serious Play becomes so powerful??)

3. Symphony
Create opportunities for diverse teams with diverse thinking to come together - with all these different types in the room seeing things from different perspectives, we start to see things in a systemic way and from a strategy perspective.
Again - this is what LEGO Serious Play Real Time Strategy workshops achieve. We have different types of people participating in real time in a cohesive way looking at what the organisation could be facing in the future and coming up with a better way forward.

4. Empathy
How do we enhance our empathy skills? Are we too self-oriented or do we see someone else's point of view. With LEGO Serious Play we have an enabling environment to encourage seeing the world from someone else's perspective.

5 + 6. Play and meaning
Have fun in what you do and also give meaning to what you do.
These are also key LEGO Serious Play principles.

2. Lynda Gratton
Lynda is Professor of Management Practice at London Business School

Lynda spoke about the importance of creating 'hotspots' in an organisation as this is where cross-divisional elements come into place. We can then span boundaries and jump into different worlds where we do not normally operate.
For example, at Tesco, they wanted to conduct a staff engagement survey. Where did they go for assistance? To the marketing team - why - marketing had been doing external customer surveys for years.
So how do we create hotspots where ideas can ignite?
  • We need a feeling of cooperation
  • We have to create networks to allow people to jump the boundaries
  • We have to create igniting questions
Hotspots are crucial to an innovating business. Teams are so differently structured from how they were in the past as the world of work is more emergent, more voluntary and more virtual than ever before..
Knowledge workers are volunteers and you are looking for their discretionary effort to be creative.
Where teams are too similar, you rarely have hotspots. So, keep it diverse and yet not too complex so that the team falls apart.
The value of a company is not held so much in the people themselves, but in the relationships between people.
To move from the big freeze to hotspots you need to build a cooperative culture.
Create this cooperative culture from the top. If the Exec team itself is not cooperative, people notice as kids do when they see their parents fight.
Select the right people to join your team - a person who is too competitive does not do well in an environment that wants to be supportive.
Give gifts to employees in terms of time - such as mentoring and coaching as this builds a cultural cycle of cooperation.
Practices, processes and habits create hotspots - measure your own organisation to see if they exist!

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