Monday, December 30, 2013

The high value of a vocational qualification!

So, you did not receive notification of acceptance in to the university of your choice.  It is not the end of the world – there are massive opportunities for you to gain a vocational qualification and here are some of the reasons why you should consider working towards a nationally recognised qualification:

1.    Vocational qualifications are highly valued by employers.  They indicate that you have practical know-how that will make a real difference to their business.  Vocational education in Australia is very well regarded internationally because of the high standards set by providers – and this gives you a strong entry point for employment as well as self-employment.

2.   Nationally recognised qualifications can also provide you with entry in to the academic field.  They are a way for you to test out whether you are genuinely interested in the career of your choice and even if you stop mid-way, you will accumulate credits along the way.

3.   There is a very wide choice of qualifications and you can also mix and match to a certain extent through your selection of elective units.  This provides you with an entry point in to your profession and determining what the marketplace is looking for in terms of skills sets:  have a look at the wide range of qualifications that are available:

4.    If you were not the top student in your HSC year for any number of reasons, working towards a nationally recognised qualification is generally a more gentle entry point in to the world of study.  Although the standards are high, you have an option of commencing with a Certificate IV before progressing on to the Diploma level.  This builds your confidence and enables you to adopt a building block approach.  Because the units are usually portable, you could even gain more than 1 qualification.

Here are some dual qualifications that ensure that you have a wider range of options as you select your career:

5.    Many top executives and managers today will tell you how a vocational qualification got them their start in life.  It looks good on a CV because it allows employers to see that you are someone who makes an effort and has a practical focus to bring to the workplace.

There are options for qualifications that enable you to find direct entry in to employment such as the Diploma of Workplace Health and Safety:

6.   Nationally recognised qualifications are not based on pass/fail.  You are either competent or not yet competent and this provides you with many other opportunities to have a go at presenting the required evidence for assessment.  There are generally no formal exams and so for those who don’t perform well in those types of high pressure situations, you are not usually required to sit for exams.

Remember – no one can ever take your education away from you!  No matter what career path you choose, as you learn and grow, and learn some more, you are setting yourself up to hold a unique position. 

For more information on VET FEE-HELP, go to

Or call 1300 FEE HELP.

Factors to consider when choosing a future career – besides aptitude….

When selecting your most appropriate pathway to create the right entry point to the career of your choice, consider more than just your aptitude for that direction in life.  There are so many other factors to take in to consideration – here are just a few items to add to your ‘what career path do I choose for myself’ checklist:

We sometimes hold an ideal image in our minds of a particular career – which sometimes has absolutely no relation to the reality of that career.  We might dream of caring for animals and playing with them until they are well, when in fact the reality of life as a vet is far from being as romantic as this.

Consider living in the shoes of someone in the career of your choice to get a real feel for what it is like to live and breathe that role.  Be realistic about what the role entails – we all have good days and not so good days at work.  Overall though, there does need to be more that attracts you to a career than detracts you from entering that field.

2.   Set yourself up for success by beginning with the end in mind.  In other words, have your goal noted at the end of a page, in both words and created in to images so that it is really clear and powerful.  Then think of all the realistic steps you will need to take in order to arrive at this end point.

It is worthwhile spending the time to paint, draw, collage this end image and then fill in all the stages that will ensure that you reach your goal.  Sometimes, we are excited by the end point and have to take a deep, calm breath as we realise the amount of time and energy that is needed to get us to where we want to be.

     It is not always easy to take on feedback from others – parents, well -meaning friends and family.  As long as their feedback is provided in a constructive way, they could well be providing you with information that might be really useful in determining which direction to follow.  We all have blind spots and if we are able to open our ears and our mind to genuinely hearing the feedback we receive, this will ensure that we have a more balanced approach to finding the right career. 

If they are not providing you with the feedback you need, have the guts to ask for it.  It does not always come across as music to your ears and in some cases it might be harsh.  It will however give you some self-insights and might have an impact on the decisions you take.

4. We don’t know what we don’t know!  We might not be able to draw on expert advice and we might not even be able to interview others who currently do sit in the roles we aspire to one day holding ourselves.  We do however have the responsibility to collect as much data and as many statistics and documented details as possible.  It is up to us to do the research and make decisions based on factual information and not just on gut feel or for other reasons.

Find out what the pass / fail rates are of courses. Know what other students are saying about various institutions.  Maintain files of information on salary levels, demand in the workplace for skills sets and anything related to future prospects.

Here is some useful information on a range of management courses that are available through VET FEE-HELP:

5.   Be aware that the world is always changing.  We live in times of huge complexity and ambiguity and jobs that did not exist a few years ago, are now exciting opportunities.  Job titles that were up until now unheard of, are commonly used in organisations.  Keep in touch with what is happening in the business context so that your range of choices is wider than you ever imagined.

To achieve this, you need to be reading and listening to news and current affairs programs. Use your network to interview people who are working in the field you would like to enter to find out what is really happening there on the ground.  You will be able to develop a strong picture of what is happening in various sectors of the economy and where the best opportunities lie.

Vocational qualifications are an excellent way of building your confidence and providing you with a solid grounding for future learning opportunities.

6.   Don’t be put off if you have not yet discovered your passion in life.  Yes, one day you will find that dream job that keeps your blood pumping well.  If you are not lucky enough for that to happen to you immediately, be courageous enough to try out many areas until that right pathway emerges.  Most of us are fortunate enough to be able to transfer credits or move in to a new discipline. Yes, it might cost you some time - and some money.  But this is a small price to pay in the bigger scheme of things as you seek a totally fulfilling career that brings you the type of job satisfaction that you deserve.

And hey, what is wrong with changing several times until there is something that is a good, strong fit with who you are.  There are very few circumstances where career paths are set in concrete.  Give it a full go – but have the courage to switch out if you need to.  And there are many payment options as well including VET FEE-HELP:

For further assistance and other useful tips, call us on 1300FEE HELP.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Expecting a low ATAR in this year’s HSC? Don’t Panic - Follow Danny Bielik’s Tips

On the 2GB Courses and Careers Show of 5 December, MCI’s Danny Bielik discussed tips for those who are concerned that the release of their HSC results might mean missing out on their preferred place at uni.

“Don’t panic,” is Danny’s key message.  “In 2013, there are a myriad of ways of gaining a tertiary qualification and if you read the tips on my blog you stand a very good chance of being able to gain access to your preferred course anyway.”

  1. Consider other options – there are over 100 private providers of degrees in Australia.  Every one of them is licensed by the Government body TEQSA – the same body that accredits universities. Often, the private Higher Education Providers can offer a more specialised qualification and approach and ATAR may not be all they look at for entry.  Many of these providers offer the Federal Government’s FEE-HELP loan scheme, enabling you to defer your fees in the same way as HECS.  For more information, visit peak bodies COPHE or ACPET
  2. Choose a vocational course - ask yourself – why did you choose uni anyway? Will it get you the best result in the workplace or would a Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualification be more applicable?  There are thousands of qualifications that are considered Nationally Recognised Training at a range of Government-accredited providers (including MCI, of course).  You can study a Certificate, Diploma or Advanced Diploma course and often get access to the Government’s VET FEE-HELP loan scheme to defer your fees.  Most providers don’t require a significant ATAR to enter, as they can offer training and mentoring that you can’t get at university.  Many then allow you to continue on to a degree, which leads us to… 
  3. Choose a pathway – there are a range of providers who allow you to complete a VET qualification as a precursor to getting into higher education / university.  Do a Diploma or Advanced Diploma for a year and it often counts as the equivalent of a year at university.  PLUS, you get the extra qualification.  There are a range of specialty pathway providers such as Navitas or Insearch that specialise in these approaches, plus many vocational providers such as MCI have arrangements with unis.  VET FEE-HELP is also offered by many providers – so no fees up-front.
  4. Same uni – different course – if you have your heart set on a particular course at a particular university – again, don’t panic! Often universities will allow you to do an internal transfer. So you can start in a more generalised degree programme, say Bachelor of Arts and then after your first year, transfer to your preferred degree.  Choose your modules carefully in your first year and it may not require any extra time. Please contact your preferred university for more details. 
  5.  Online study – Just about every course is available online now – including a range of vocational qualifications and higher education degrees.  Online study is great for people who want to work whilst they study as it is the ultimate in flexibility. And with online study, a good provider would offer mentors who can help you progress through your course. Tutors also help you with difficult course work and your classmates are only a click away in virtual meeting places.

The bottom line is that there are now more options than ever to pursue your dream in your own way. So please don’t panic, if you don’t get the mark you wanted – explore these other options.  They may work out better in the long run anyway.

Danny Bielik is a former Ministerial Adviser and CEO of Management Consultancy International.  Danny presents the Courses and Careers Show each Thursday on Nights with Steve Price.  You can listen to the Courses and Careers Show on 873 2GB in Sydney and  Podcasts are on the 2GB website and iTunes.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Key learnings from Ignition Conference 2013 - and what HR needs to heed!

Ignition 2013, the Future of Digital. New York City.

When global thought leaders in all matters relating to anything on-line speak – we listen!  

The line-up at this year's conference included Elon Musk, extreme entrepreneur and CEO of Tesla Motors, the first fully electric car taking the USA by storm; Business Hip Hop label magnate Russel Simmons who is revolutionising the world of entertainment through his approach to launching new singers; Executive editor of Linked In, Dan Roth; the CMO of Salesforce, Mike Lazerow; Lewis D’Vorkin, Chief Product Officer of Forbes and Chris Peacock of CNN.

So what did some of the most powerful players in the digital landscape say that have an impact on HR and on learning and development

1. Ignore what is happening on-line at your peril.  There are nearly 3 billion people on-line and most of the world’s money is already on line.  There are over a billion smart phones sold and people spend about an hour a day on their phone.  The desktop market is shrinking and mobile and video are booming.

The world is now multi-screen and Facebook reaches more people than free TV….  

Watch out for the next big thing:  wearables such as watches or Google glasses; networked houses and remote control lives.

For more facts and interesting statistics and data:

2. Consider carefully how you make use of social media.  It is a great way to humanise your brand and to share information.  Find the channel that suits you best.  This is certainly something for HR and L and D professionals to consider as we raise our own internal brand equity.

3. In order to get closer to the customer, think about on-line ways of engaging them.  One of the most watched adverts of the year on Youtube was the Dove soap campaign:  it inspired women to believe that they are beautiful.

In the case of HR and L and D, it leads us to consider how we can get closer to our stakeholders.  We also need to re-imagine the experience that our team, management teams and staff have with us.  Can we emulate what happens in a Burberry store where they know who you are and what your buying preferences are as you step in.  Very different from an Apple store experience where no one knows who you are.  Which possibly explains why the CEO of Burberry is joining Apple…

4. When it comes to innovation, here are some great lessons shared:

Most speakers freely acknowledged how many mistakes they make –“we get it wrong at least half the time.” Sometimes, it is simply right idea and wrong time.  Be prepared to kill things quickly if they are not working and also resurrect things that could work in different circumstances.

You also don’t need to be totally certain that your idea is going to eventuate or have a positive outcome. You do need to be reasonably sure that your ideas are supported by data and not simply blind faith. 

Launching things on line does give you the ability to be more nimble and creative and make changes as you go.
A sign of a good company is the ability to recover once you hit the brick wall.  Do our HR teams have that ability?

5. Some great one-liners that have implications in terms of how we think about our roles and strategy within HR:

  • “Google is now bigger than both the magazine and newspaper industries.”
  • “As a brand your goal should be to stop telling your own story. Inspire others to tell it on your behalf.”
  • "If you unveil something new, do it in an entertaining way."
  • "Don't expect companies to be perfect.  We know we are not best at.... But we are great at....  In this way we humanise our brand."
  • "There is no more time for the perfect message. Now we need to get the message to the right person to the right time." 
    Denise and radical entrepreneur, Elon Musk

Friday, September 27, 2013

Change Management 101

We continue to receive many requests from our clients for change management programs and we offer them excellent workshops following the methodologies and insights of change management gurus such as Prof John Kotter and the Heath brothers.

During the session, participants tend to ask these types of questions - all to do with very practical steps that are often foremost in the minds of change champions, managers and supervisors.  Here is a sample of some of the questions and I would love to hear from you as to how you would respond:

1. "There is a massive change coming and my team is suffering from change fatigue"

There is no question that we now live in times of VUCA - volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.  The pace of change is fast and furious.  We know this rationally just by looking at the progression in the mobile phone technology that we use daily.  When did you last hear any moaning or whinging about the latest release of the iPhone new operating system - even though it certainly does take some getting used to....

Yet, when it comes to thinking about change in our work environment, all of a sudden we are just worn out by the pace of change.
We suggest that team leaders and managers constantly shake things up in their teams without waiting for the announcement of a major organisational change.  If the team has the sense that change is always around them, they will move away from victim thinking.  They start to accept that change happens at work - constantly!

Encourage people to take on different tasks.  Invite them to sit in different seats in meetings.  Challenge them to do one different thing on their way to or from work. 

2. "I don't believe that the new change is going to work, so how on earth will I sell this to my team?"

This is a tough one because not every business decision is in your sphere of control or influence.  Simple fact.  Yes, you can try out your influencing skills and motivate upwards in the line to ensure that you improve the processes or the outcomes.

Sometimes, the reality is that you cannot make any adaptations to what has been decided and you need to make peace with it and move forward.  Just having an internal, whinging conversation with yourself about it, is not going to make any difference to the final outcome.  But, what it will do is pull the rest of the team down with you in terms of their thinking.

Without you knowing it, people's eyes are on you all the time.  How you talk and how you frame conversations has a powerful impact!  No matter how tough the times are, your own concerns and doubts are for behind closed door discussions.  In front of the team, you demonstrate quiet confidence and authority.  People will role model themselves off your attitude.

Think Ernest Shackleton - he needed to get his men safely back from their failed expedition but never let on to them just how dire the circumstances were.  They all survived.

3. "The change is being planned by the top management team and they have no idea about the implications on us further down the tree."

Work on your influencing skills.  Make sure that you build your level of credibility.  YOU need to become the person who top management turns to when they want to know what the impact of the change will be.  

This is not something that you can achieve overnight.  It takes a concerted effort to build the right network so that when you need to call on them you can.  Remember the strength of weak ties.  You need both a very close network as well as a loose network so that when these changes happen, you can tap in to the network to connect you to the right people.

4. "Not all change is perceived as positive - some involves a re-structure that does not impact everyone in a good way."

Yes, sadly there are changes that have an impact that is not positive.  All you can do is be there for those who need your support.  Don't make judgements.  Simply say that you are there to assist as needed.

5. "Stress levels are through the roof because of the pace of the change."

I would love to say that you should offer the team the MCI stress management course!  

There are techniques that you can use to reduce stress and anxiety.  One of my favourite ones is to ask people to remember the very worst thing that has happened to them - and sadly most people have had some really bad things happen to them in their personal lives.

Compared to those terrible events, usually what we experience in the workplace is relatively minor.  We need to remind people of this constantly.

6. "I have told my team about the changes several times and I am frustrated because there are still questions OR worse still, no one is adopting the new way of doing things"

When we think that we have communicated enough - we have only started!  Communicate in different ways.  Email is not nearly enough.  Say it in team meetings.  Use posters.  Add in to newsletters if possible.

Where possible, make it in to a game or a challenge.  We all love a competition and if there is a way of injecting fun in to it, do so.

If they are really not taking to the change well, also consider looking at what could be changed in the system or in the environment to make the change easier.  Think of the lion in the Animal Kingdom in Disneyworld.  Instead of training him and begging him to sit on the rock so that the guests to the park can see him, they heat or cool the rock depending on the weather.

7. "I am in a company that suffers from analysis-paralysis.  So much planning happens and then nothing moves until the last moment - when it is often too late."

This is often a mind-set that permeates many teams.  Keep the energy high!  Push people to solutionise.  Send the message that the view is forward and that near enough is good enough.  Don't slip in to paralysis mode yourself.  Apply your decision making skills and take a stand on a decision with the facts that are currently available.

The high value of the LEGO Serious Play methodology!

This is a fabulous post from Robert Rasmussen, one of the top facilitators worldwide of the LEGO Serious Play methodology:

Why invest in training if anyone can buy bricks and claim they are using the LEGO Serious Play method? 


Now that LEGO SERIOUS PLAY is open source, any Maria, Carlos, Kim or Peter can order LEGO SERIOUS PLAY kits and invent ways to use the kits.
And naively, people who have not yet benefitted from LEGO SERIOUS PLAY facilitator training may believe they are experiencing the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methodology. After all, they purchased and are using the special LEGO SERIOUS PLAY kits.

This would be like buying test tubes and thinking you know how to conduct scientific experiments or buying paints and attempting to create museum quality art.

How to playfully coax, coddle and cajole reluctant participants to build, even when they don't know what to build or why it's going to help their understanding, is also an acquired art that one can begin to acquire by learning from the best.

As trained facilitators know, the science and art of the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methodology are embedded in the theoretical foundations of the methodology and the accumulated experiential learning of facilitators who have completed training and are actively engaged in designing and
facilitating workshops and learning from doing.

The workshop flow and how to engage trust and build confidence that allow the insights and stories participants share to go deeper and deeper has to be experienced, and is close to impossible to explain. And how to question components or elements of the models others build
in a non-threatening and productive manner is best demonstrated in real time.

How to design open and inspiring challenges, with enough structure to address the goal of the workshop while still leaving room for new, unanticipated and surprising constructions and stories, could be the topic of a Ph.D. dissertation.The days of training are barely enough to provide some parameters and context to create challenges that get to the essence of complex issues and deeply held beliefs.

A Toolkit of Actions that Work!

One of the most powerful aspects of the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY process is when teams create a landscape where individual models relate to each other in specific ways or a shared model. Both processes require the facilitator to empower the confidence of individual participants while protecting the group from the dominance of one or two members. And when the group is completely stalled, there are emergency actions that move the group forward that a skilled trainer will share.

The lasting value of LEGO SERIOUS PLAY workshop comes through the documentation. Trained facilitators are exposed to a variety of templates and options for ensuring lasting value of the workshops they design and deliver.

Monday, September 16, 2013

3 reasons why on-line learning DOES work!

I was a panelist at the recent LEARNX conference in Sydney and there was certainly a large amount of scepticism in the room about on-line learning - and how the self-paced learning model can in fact result in sustainable changes in behaviour.

I have seen first-had that on-line learning, at the right time and in the right place, can in fact lead to improvements in  performance!  At the very least, there is as much chance of improvement as there is with face to face training delivery.

1. We are becoming so much more accustomed to the concept of self-service

Who last went in to a bank to complete a transaction?  Who last saw an insurance broker?  The shift in the way in which business transactions take place have also had a ripple effect in the on-line learning world.  We want our learning in short bite size chunks and we want to access it from our computers, laptops and mobile phones wherever it is more convenient.
Transferring over to on-line learning is no longer attached to the major drama that used to accompany it years ago.  It is in fact what is expected by learners!

2. The trends in the uptake of on-line learning are on the increase.  Major organisations that used to have firewall issues are building their learning LMS outside of the firewall and are providing options for participants including:

  • Engaging and interactive forums for conversations to promote the social side of learning and to make the process more inclusive
  • Interactive exercises and gamification  to involve and engage participants
  • A whole range of different ways of learning to appeal to different learning styles such as resource libraries for the theorists and the ability to print out workbooks and job aids for the tactile learners. 
3.  There is a far stronger body of knowledge around instructional design for on-line learning development.  We have more choice with regard to authoring tools and there are more and more examples of excellence around as well as many more case studies that highlight successful roll-outs.

We have so many better, cheaper, faster ways of implementing the learning and for conducting on-going follow-ups to embed the major outcomes. 
Did I mention "better bang for buck"?  
Did I also mention, more reach to many more participants?

AND - Performance management becomes part of how the whole elearning set-up is created and so training and performance are no longer separated. 

Speak to us about our elearning suite of programs to enhance your training!


Monday, September 2, 2013

7 Leadership lessons from the elections

What can the political arena teach us about leadership?  No matter which side of politics you sit and who you consider voting for, there have been many examples of some great - and some very poor - leadership skills on display.

These are some of the key ones that I have noticed over the past few weeks:

1.  Leaders are highly articulate!  They are not only able to present well - they can also formulate their arguments in such a way that they are understandable by a broad audience.  They do not ummmm and ahhhh their way through their pitch - they use a few well chosen words to capture the key messages.

2. Great leaders cut through the nonsense and do not hide behind words that are less than truthful.  It is just so easy to pick up when someone is not quite upfront with what they are saying.  And you know what - that loss of trust plays a huge factor in leadership.  If you want buy-in, creating trust is step number 1.

3. Leaders use their body language well.  They display genuine Duchenne smiles that are go right up to their eyes.  There is nothing worse than some false smile that does not light up your face.  And whether you want to believe it or not, likeability is a strong factor in leadership.  Yes, people who are likeable are able to influence others far more readily.

4. Leaders are there for the long haul and their egos are not the most important part of the equation. Yes, you need to be confident and sure of yourself but no, it is not all about you alone.  In the work context, we know full well how people's egos destroy culture and create dysfunctional teams.

5. Great leaders are aware that eyes are on them all the time.  They do not really have the time to be able to step backstage and have a minor meltdown.  Leaders are quietly confident and minor irritability is well hidden. 

6. We are very quick to form impressions of people so those leaders who are well presented and groomed tend to make that first good impression.  Not great that we should form opinions based on what people look like, but it does happen: ensure that we do put our best foot forward.

7. Don't be afraid to confess to making mistakes.  Leaders make errors - they cannot predict and judge every situation accurately.  Acknowledging mistakes is a way of building up that level of trust and ensuring that lessons are learnt for the future.

SO: for you in your own organisational context - please, oh please, do not repeat any of these leadership mistakes.  It is easy to sit at the ringside and criticise and it is not so easy to act as a leader! Watching these lessons in action is better than reading any book on leadership. They are playing out painfully in the public arena and what we do as leaders plays out in front of our teams. 

Remember that it is time to play to win!  Game on!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Create the right context for innovation

Why is organizational climate so vitally important as we set the context for innovation?

This was one of the key messages that came through so strongly at the Creative Problem Solving Institute 2013 conference in Buffalo, USA.

The climate of the organisation is not the same as the culture and it is important that we measure it. Once we have some hard data on what the climate is, this enables us to explore ways that leaders can influence positive climate change and leverage it to boost performance and promote creative thinking.
If we do not introduce creative problem solving and innovation in to a context, there is little chance of success.

What is climate?
What is culture?

Think about what is in your experience a good place to work.
What made it a good workplace?
Examples are - flexibility, location, people, org purpose alignment, good work in the world, autonomy, play to win, different roles, very social, build on ideas, work life balance

How does this make you feel?
Examples - energized, engaged, creative, energetic, happy, useful, valued, part of a whole, world changing.

Then - think about the opposite of that - the bad workplace.   
Here are examples of what made it so: inconsistent expectations, no room for growth, politics, mismatch of skills, authoritarian leadership, instability, squashing ideas, oppressive, silos, environment, egos, bland

How does that make you feel?  Examples: frustrated, suffocated, insecure, drained, stressed, abused, unsatisfied, limited, unappreciated, unchallenged, stuck, idiotic, impatient, headachy, apathetic.

When you experience the great feelings, how do you behave:  committed, friendly, open, respectful, loyal, cheerful, willing to take risks, collaborative, part of a team, inclusive, initiative, sense of pride.

When you experience the bad feelings, how do you behave?  Examples - Procrastinate, not productive, backbiting, dishonest, secretive, minimal amount of work, sleepy, sporadic, disruptive, lack of caring, aggressive, sick leave, wanting to change, only there when i had to be, blame others, paranoid, protest everything, slouched.

So dare we say that there a correlation between workplace and performance? 
If you compare how people feel and how they perform, there is a strong correlation. It effects their level of engagement and retention.  The magnitude of this impact is sometimes underrated.

So to distinguish between culture and climate - culture is the values, beliefs, traditions and reflects the deeper foundations of the organisation.  What the organisation values is reinforced in the decisions that are made. 

Climate is the recurring patterns of feelings and attitudes and behavior that members of the organisation experience.

A changing climate eventually has an impact of culture. Climate is more visible, more on the surface and is easier to change. 
They are not entirely separate - over time as you impact the climate, you will impact the culture.  But it is easier to deal with the tree at the top and what is visible and where there is growth than by messing with the roots of the tree. When you walk in to an organisation, you can feel the difference.

Uncover your organisation’s climate data to determine what your current climate is by reviewing the following dimensions:

1. Challenge and involvement – determine what do they do on day to day basis and how this links and relates to what the purpose of the organisation is.  The more people see the connection, the more likely they are to be engaged.  

2. Measure Freedom - independence of behaviour exerted by the people such as respecting the individuals and no micro management.  

3. Determine the level of trust and openness - emotional safety in relationships.  Is there enough trust in the relationship to know my short comings.  The more productive the environment will be when people can spit out what they want to.

4. Look at the level of risk taking - how people deal with ambiguity and uncertainty.  Is there a level of tolerance for uncertainty?  We don’t always have to jump towards dotting the i's and crossing the t's.

5. Ask if there is a climate of debate - occurrence of encounters and disagreements between viewpoints.  Is there open and frank conversation and not a climate of taking things personally.

6. What level of idea support is there - ideas are respected and nurtured and not thrown out immediately.  Ideas not killed too soon so that they can move out the door and be adopted.  Novelty will otherwise not survive.

7. How is conflict managed – there is positive and negative conflict.  Distinguish between conflict and debate.  Conflict results in tension between people and leads to the deliberate sabotaging of ideas.  There are also many cases where organisations try to avoid the conflict and performance is zero unless the areas of friction are surfaced.

8. What is the level of playfulness and humour - ability to behave and interact in a spontaneous way.  Is humour is accepted no matter the level of the person?  Great climates weave this playfulness in to work.  People work to make play happen.  

9.How much play time is there - how much time do we have to develop and elaborate on new ideas? 

These observable and tangible behaviors can be measured.   We can easily see the stagnated organisations that cannot get stuff out the door to the marketplace.
Climate is the one variable that can be changed – and immediately innovation has a context and a soil in which to grow.  Climate has to be constantly watched – you have to recreate it every day.

Final notes:
1.    Climate is important and palpable and it is measurable.  When you target it specifically, you can move the needle on these dimensions.
2.    The climate for innovation is ignored at your own peril.
3.    This stuff is not soft - it is as hard as you get!