On Leadership, Culture and International Expansion

Telescope

The day you decide to expand your business into a foreign market is one for the books.

It’s an exciting and impressive moment!

The Biggest Mistakes in International Expansion

You put in the work to prove your domestic worth, and now you’re ready to make it big across the pond. Through research and development, major investments, and daily learning, you finally understand what makes your customers tick.

So transitioning into a foreign market should be no problem, right?

Well, not quite. The No. 1 mistake company leaders make when transitioning overseas is thinking they can use a one-size-fits-all business model for their venture abroad and still see positive results. Think again. You still need to make adjustments to suit the new country’s culture and shopping style.

Why Companies Fail Overseas

Most companies fail overseas simply because they don’t understand the market, and even big-name American companies aren’t immune to this pitfall.

Take Walmart, for example. The retail powerhouse completely missed the mark in Germany. Rather than studying cultural nuances, Walmart stuck with its customer service standards (like smiling at customers) and disregarded Germany’s co-determination rules that allow employees to weigh in on corporate decisions affecting working conditions.

Walmart’s strategy didn’t work, and it was an all-around flop.

Formulating a Strategy

As a leader, it’s your job to gauge the market and local customs and formulate a business strategy that fits seamlessly. Here are three signs that you may have missed the mark on your foreign business strategy:

  • You encounter open opposition to a policy or procedure. If employees aren’t on board with the way you do things, there’s a good chance your customers won’t be either.
  • Nobody understands your business. You won’t connect with the locals if they don’t “get” your elevator pitch or see an attractive difference in your business operations.
  • Conversion rates don’t meet expectations. If web visitors aren’t converting and callers aren’t signing up, it’s time to reconsider your move.

How to Salvage Your International Location

If you’ve already made the move and these signs seem familiar in hindsight, you need to make some fast changes to survive in your chosen market. Here are four steps you can take to get your business back on track:

  1. Stop the train wreck before it gets ugly. Listen to phone calls, shop your own stores, and talk to customers about what they like and don’t like.
  2. Find the underlying issue. Figure out the real reason consumers aren’t responding to your business. In the Walmart example, having employees smile at customers seemed like a no-brainer given the company’s success in the U.S., but German customers translate that interaction as a come-on. Identifying the real problem allows you to take swift and decisive action to mitigate your losses.
  3. Enlist your staff’s help. Employees will appreciate that you’re working to resolve the issue and that you value their input. This can also generate positive word of mouth that may speed up recovery.
  4. Appeal to the locals. Ask your staff for suggestions, and start something new that will resonate with the local culture. This shows you value your new customers, and it may earn their loyalty.

Think Like Starbucks

Although Starbucks struggled to break out in Europe, it nailed its international expansion in China.

To win over a market where tea ruled supreme, Starbucks didn’t copy and paste its American strategy in China. Instead, it created a need in the market by figuring out a way to complement the culture.

Starbucks appealed to the emerging middle class and younger generation with a taste for Western goods (without threatening the ancient tea-drinking culture). Additionally, it worked with Chinese partner companies to tailor its strategy to different regions of the country, ensuring it would appeal to local demographics.

Your business may not be a multinational coffee company, but the lessons still apply.

Once you’ve identified your ideal market, you need to get on the ground. You’re not simply looking at the competition. You’re feeling for the country’s pulse and learning how you can assimilate.

Preventing a Crisis

Here are a few ways to gauge the scene to prevent a crisis:

  • Study the culture. Understand the society’s values and the nuances among generations. Learn the thread that runs through communities and what makes people tick. This will go a long way when you’re rolling out a marketing plan or trying to attract customers to your grand opening.
  • Visit shops, restaurants, and potential competitors. Identifying which places are practically turning customers away and which are begging for them to come in will provide great insights for your own business strategy.
  • Immerse yourself. Go for long walks and get a local’s view of the city where you’ll do business. Talk to people about how they live and shop. Ask yourself which parts of your domestic business model won’t work and which will be well received.

Becoming Better Equipped

Understanding the market is key to a successful foreign expansion.

The more intimately you know the country where you operate, the better equipped you are to conduct business there.

As a company leader, if you can’t immerse yourself, recruit key on-site employees or partner with local companies and consultants. Let your customers know you value and respect their culture, and you’ll be on solid ground to make your big move.

So what are you doing to make sure you are understanding your customers in new markets? How are you learning more about them? How are you conditioning your employees to make the transition to new markets most effective? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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———————–

Cris Burnam is the president and co-founder of StorageMart
Cris was named a 2014 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Email | LinkedIn | Web

On Leadership, Growth and Doing it Anyway

Do It Anyway

Do you know that song by Martina McBride titled “Anyway?”  

In the very first verse of the song she says this:

You can spend your whole life building
Something from nothin’
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anyway”

On Life and Making Lemonade

My husband graduated from college and spent 6 years in the Air Force.  Then we settled down in my home town to raise our family and he went to work as an engineer for a large company.  We raised 3 boys.

I began a business. We invested and began preparing for the day that we could retire. We seemed to be on the right track as a couple and a family.

But despite our best laid plans, life brought us some lemons. Our lives changed in directions for which we had not planned:

  • We did not expect that my husband would lose his job after 15 yrs
  • I did not anticipate that my business would begin to lose money
  • We did not know that our son would cost us everything that we had worked for (at least as far as the things of the world are concerned.)

Lemons, Lemons, and More Lemons

Our youngest son became involved in drug and alcohol abuse.  He spent 4 years going to jail, hospitals, and rehab. There were about 3 years that I did not sleep through the night in anticipation of a phone call from the police. I was never sure if they would want us to pick him up or identify his body.

To say the least, these were very difficult years for our family!

The courts held us financially responsible for the crimes that our son committed while he was a minor child.

  • We paid fees, restitution and hospital bills
  • We paid for couple of rehabilitation periods
  • We suffered emotionally, mentally, and career-wise

Because of the time away from work for court and family rehab sessions, my husband’s work performance decreased. When it came time for layoffs at his workplace, he was on the list.  When he lost his job, we lost our ability to pay for our home. My business began to fail and our property investments no longer rented for enough to pay the mortgage.

…More Lemons

As a result, we lost 2 properties, our home, and my business. We continued to fight to save our son. My husband finally found a job in a different state and he relocated. I had to remain where I was to close my business, sell the properties, and be with my son who was not finished with school.

On Making That Lemonade

Over time, my son finally completed his GED and got a good job. It took all the worldly possessions that we had, but our son is alive, healthy, drug free, and working.

After 18 months I was able to join my husband in our new home. I had to start over. He had to start over. I won’t lie, it was the most difficult time of our marriage. We became stronger than ever as a couple by pulling together for the sake of our family.

Although we were financially ruined, I can say with all the confidence in the world this:

Losing your fortune is not that big a deal. After all, it is just money. You can get more of that.

There is no battle more worth fighting that the battle to save a child. There is no amount of money that could change my opinion on the financial, emotional, and family decisions that we made. In fact, I would do it all over again for what we gained.

Keep Trying. It’s Worth It All

Now it is time to start building again.

Did I hesitate to start over? 

Absolutely.

Did I fear the idea of losing again?

You better believe it.

Is it going to be painful and difficult?

You better believe that, too!

Did it stop me?

NO!

There is nothing more painful than the thought of losing a child. Losing “stuff,” well that was easy by comparison. Your true success lies in what you put your hope in.

So, what sort of life-altering challenges have you faced that you were able to overcome? How did that build your character, your family, your relationships, or your business? Are you facing something now and need encouragement? If so, please connect with me and I think I can offer some sound personal advice. I would love to help.

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————–
Phyllis Rodriguez

Phyllis Rodriguez is a Producer at Insphere Insurance Solutions
She serves as an Associate Broker, Short Sale and REO Specialist
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Web | Personal | 520-220-4021

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On Leadership, You and Your Modus Operandi

Please watch this short two-minute Ted Talk above and then read on…

Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” ~ Alan Alda

Your Modus Operandi

Did you know that you have a blueprint on the way you think? And like most people, you are generally locked into this modus operandi. This blueprint is called your assumptions. But don’t feel too bad about this. Everyone operates on an internal list of assumptions.

Otherwise we could not thrive in our complex and confusing world. We would have no bearings and would continually get lost.

Our brains use psychological frameworks largely based on assumptions about value and likelihood so that we avoid cognitive chaos. However, if we see our assumptions as a “best fit” which if we pay no attention can go terribly wrong, we gain a clearer idea of how nature has equipped us for misadventure.

Living With Misjudgement

Take a look at the psychology of misjudgement with this Daniel Gilbert’s TED talk.

Daniel’s examples are relatively simple compared with the complexity of our assumptions about how the “real” world, about other people, and about ourselves.

Our earliest assumptions come from our parents, siblings, friends, teachers etc. and colour how we process new experiences and information for much of our later life. These assumptions are the filters overlaying our personal lens through which we interact with the world.

Our unique experience is just that: unique. And we use our assumptions to make sense of this. The problems begin when we attempt to impose our unique personal assumptions on the world in general and expect everyone else to conform.

Seeking Different Assumptions

If one world view is too narrow it follows we must seek more experiences and assumptions to broaden our world view. As we can’t live everyone else’s life nor acquire their assumptions we must learn to share them by collaboration.

“Don’t make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.” ~ Miguel Angel Ruiz

Here there is a fork in the road. In one direction lies the pit of Groupthink and the other the garden of collaboration. If all you want is to have your assumptions reinforced then surround yourself with yes men. You will get a nice warm feeling but you court very public failure.

“Groupthink is characterized by a shared “illusion of invulnerability,” an exaggerated belief in the competence of the group, a “shared illusion of unanimity” within the group, and a number of other symptoms” ~ Fredric Solomon and Robert Q. Marston

On Courage and Facing New Challenges

If you have the courage to attract people with different views and encourage them to voice theirs, all evidence shows that together you will be more creative especially in facing challenge. Your innovations and solutions will most likely last longer and be more directly relevant.

“Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

Collaboration is vital but insufficient for genius innovation. You need creative tension. One definition of tension is “A balanced relation between strongly opposing elements.” If we think of the most creative people we think of polymaths or renaissance men (and of course women.)

They investigated art, mathematics, biology, music, literature etc. etc. seeing no boundaries.

Our modern world is too complex to excel at more than a few things so we must build “Renaissance Teams” to cover the ground. The leader’s challenge is to nurture creative tension, appreciate different assumptions, and gel the whole in a vision which supports common purpose.

Your Actions Today

  • As you approach each person, task or meeting make a note of your assumptions.
  • Reflect on the “life history” of each assumption; where/who did it come from?
  • On a scale of 1 (my opinion) to 10 (the truth,) rate each of your assumptions.
  • Were you able to appreciate, understand and integrate other people’s assumptions into your world view?

Recommended reading

To hone your assumption busting skills try The Reflective Journal by Barbara Bassot

Gary is the author of the upcoming book “Your Personal Leadership Book of Days – Avoid Cookie Cutter Solutions By Using Your Adaptive Intelligence.” Download a free mini-version HERE.

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——————– 
Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Web | Book

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On Leadership and The Real Happy Happy

I sing the “Happy” song (see the attached video.) I drank the Kool-Aid. I’m clapping along. Happy, happy, happy, happy……Clap along! I am sitting around the campfire singing Kumbayah. I am every happy cliché in the book. 

And that’s okay with me because I believe that creating happiness in the workplace is the key to performance, productivity, and bottom-line impact.

The Real Happy Happy

The kind of happiness I’m referring to isn’t just about cool office spaces, free food, or nap rooms at work.  It’s about why organizations are using these tactics and why they work.

Surveys and studies have shown that one of the top reasons people leave their jobs is because they were not motivated, challenged, or given opportunities for growth.

  • People want to work hard and realize the benefits of doing a good job.
  • They want to feel good about their work.
  • They want to be happy.

Creating a Culture of Happiness

Creating a culture of happiness starts from the top.  As organization development professionals, convincing leaders this is important is our job.

It begins with job structure by:

  • Giving people a challenging job with clear goals
  • Holding them accountable
  • Providing the right tools to do the job
  • Proper coaching and guidance to do it well

Add autonomy and recognition to this mix and you have a recipe for happiness, but that’s not all…

The final touches to creating a culture of happiness revolve around creature comforts.  If we are asking people to give their all to our organization, then we will want them to be:

  • Comfortable (desks, chairs, pods, standing desks)
  • Well-nourished (free food)
  • Well-rested (nap rooms)
  • Healthy (exercise programs)
  • Have the ability to work at their own pace and on their own time tables (flexible scheduling)
  • Collaborate with others to help facilitate good ideas (technology, communal work spaces).
  • Sprinkle in a little bit of fun and you have got it!

Think of Google

This is where the office slides (instead of steps) and ping-pong tables come in – think Google.  Believe it or not, people aren’t slacking off when they take part in these activities during the work day.  If they were, why are these perks so popular and why do organizations continue to use them?

My answer is because they work and here’s why.

Needing a Brain Break

Have you ever worked on a project for so long that you just needed a “brain break”?  I have and when this happens I usually go for a walk, listen to some music, stretch, or do anything else to clear my mind for a while.  Our brains need time to synthesize everything that is going on around us and our bodies need to be nourished, exercised, and well-rested.

When people feel good and are given the autonomy to do their work in their own way, they perform at their best.  If they need a nap in the middle of the day, so be it, as long as their work gets done on time and is done well.

This also applies at times when we need a creative outlet, time to exercise, or take care of family obligations.

By allowing people to take care of personal needs during the typical workday, they are able to better focus on their work upon return, while at the same time it encourages their brain to switch gears and process things from a different perspective.  This “downtime” eases people’s daily worries and concerns and sets the stage for optimal work performance.

Creating a Culture of Happiness

The benefits of creating a culture of happiness far outweigh the costs to carry out and run them.  The difficult part is creating a culture that believes in this model and understands and promotes the idea that it’s ok for people to have fun at work, take some leisure breaks, and take care of themselves and their family during the work day.

This is very different from punching in and punching out with the same scheduled breaks each day, which many people are used to.

When giving people some freedom and autonomy, it builds trust between employees and the organization. Employees feel valued and respected. And this is quite motivating!

Yes, there will always be slackers and people who take advantage of the system, but there will always be slackers no matter what kind of culture you create in the workplace. And those need to be dealt with separately, so why not give these ideas a try?

How are you helping to promote a culture of happiness?  What kinds of programs have you heard about? What are you doing to make sure that people think of your place as a happy one? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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———————
Wendy S. Butler

Wendy Butler is Organizational and Employee Development & Talent Management
Her Passion is to help People Discover, Develop, and Promote their Unique Talent
Email | LinkedIn 

 

On Leadership, Change and Transition

Changes AheadChange is never easy. Change is a bumpy process. Change is uncomfortable. And it create problems.

But why is change so hard? 

Leaving the Familiar

Change is hard because it is an emotional experience for most. An emotional experience, particularly an experience one often has little choice in being part of, creates resistance. 

Resistance is a natural emotion, though an emotion that can make change even harder.

 “All resistance is mobilization of energy, not lack of energy. Those who “resist” are “bundles of energy” not passive, lifeless blobs” – Nevis (1998).

However, resistance must be managed to harness that energy for positive change. Managing resistance requires focusing on not just change, but also transition.

Understanding Transitions

Often in managing change individuals and organizations neglect to address “transition.” According to William Bridges, transition is the psychological movement through the change.

Change Bridges

Transition consists of three parts:

  • The Ending (of what was)
  • The Neutral Zone (muddling and creative period)
  • The New Beginning (of what is)
People go through the phases of transition at their own pace, not necessarily at the pace of others or the pace of an organization. It is important for people to be supportedthroughout each phase.

“To ease the difficulties of the change process a focus on transition must run in parallel to a focus on change.”

Change is the actual physical event (merger, new job, graduating from college, getting married, getting divorced, new baby, new grandbaby, new boss, and so on). There are three primary reasons people view change as difficult and thus resist change.

  • Loss of self, power, influence, or perceived value
  • Having to learn something new
  • Lack of understanding on “why” they need to change

Many times people view change as a statement that they are underperforming or not doing a good enough job.

Managing Transistions

People often see the impending change as a threat to their established reputation, quality of life, or future with the 

community. Most people that resist change fear having to learn new skills, concepts, or policies.

Whether it’s learning a new computer system, operational skills or even how to get something approved, organizational improvements and change efforts threaten their current status-quo.

“The way ‘ we have always done it’ works just fine.”

The thought of changing behavior scares people. The majority of people who resist change simply don’t understand why things need to be different.  “It’s the way we’ve always done it” is the typical response from this group. Not successfully addressing these issues increases resistance.

Wherever there is a change effort, there will be resistance” – Beckhard & Pritchard (1992).

Do you resist change? How do you deal with individual and organizational change and transition? Does the idea of a big change strike fear in you, or does it bring optimism and hope? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————
Scott Span

Scott Span, MSOD is President of Tolero Solutions OD & Change Management Firm
He helps clients be responsive, focused, and effective to facilitate sustainable growth
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The VA Debacle, and Four Steps to Help All Leaders Focus on the Right Goals

I’m not convinced of the “law of attraction,” but I can say for sure that its cousin, “the law of focus” applies in leadership.

And it is this: You get more of what you focus on.

We only have to look at a few anecdotal examples to see the power of leadership focus.

The VA, Schools, and the Military

Although there are many aspects in play in the current VA debacle, one of the more obvious and blatant issues centers around “gaming” the system to meet the highly visible 14-day window for veterans being scheduled for appointments. The focus was on meeting the 14-day time frame more than taking care of the veterans**.

In another industry sector we’ve witnessed a large scandal in Atlanta in the last two years that involved teachers and administrators cheating on the students standardized tests (changing answers) in order to make sure they got better grades. The focus was on improving test scores instead of the primary mission, which was educating our youth.

In the short run this method helped the adults look like they were doing their jobs and therefore more eligible for retention and raises, but in the long run this tactic was doomed to failure and the sting of broken trust with parents and the community.

Lest you elevate your profession above these two, I can tell you from personal experience this kind of behavior can happen in any organization and with very good people.

 

Another Example

Back in the ‘70s when money and hardware in our military were short, it was impossible for some units to report C-1 (fully combat ready), yet there was so much pressure that gaming the system was not unusual. In the military culture we are taught in early training, “There are no excuses,” so many officers/leaders were afraid to stand up to their generals and say, “Sir, we’re not hacking it, and we can’t with what we have.”

These three cases illustrate situations where the focus on specific goals was counterproductive to the primary purpose of the organizations.

The problem was an extreme focus on hitting goals that were not in keeping with the stated mission, vision, and values of the organization.

Re-Focusing on the Right Goals

So how do you avoid gaming the system and still keep your credibility as a leader? Here are four steps to keep your goals pure and aligned with the mission.

1. Clarify Mission, Vision, and especially Values.

These three areas establish your purpose (why you exist), your methods (how you do your work), and your ethics (your standards and boundaries). As a leader, your number one responsibility is to clarify these areas and push that message to the lowest level of your organization. This process gives you a consistent culture that provides the same focus and built-in guardrails to keep behavior on track at all levels.

2. Communicate and Over-Communicate by Staying Engaged Up and Down.

Make sure that you develop an honest, ongoing dialogue with your people so that you know what’s really happening and they know that you’re really listening to their challenges. Remember, the higher you go in leadership, the less likely you are to get quality feedback on what’s really happening. You have to build enough trust with your followers that they can give you bad news.

3. Support Your People.

They are the ones doing the work, and it’s their responsibility to fulfill their role; it’s your responsibility is to support them. This could mean bringing in more resources, clearing out some of the red-tape and restrictions that are slowing down their efficiencies, or even redefining their goals to meet current conditions.

4. Confront Your Doubts and Fears.

This will be your biggest challenge in all three steps above. Do you have the courage to lead when it feels uncomfortable or even scary? Looking back at the three examples above, you can see that fear was the main motivator in each situation. They were focused on the wrong goals and afraid they would not meet them and therefore look bad. And when leadership caves in to fears, the outcomes are always disastrous for the organization.

So Where are You Right Now?

Keep in mind that the steps above will help you focus on the right things in your organization and allow the best goals and metrics to emerge. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Are you focused on the right goals?
  • Are your goals aligned with the mission, vision, and values of the organization, or are they undermining the organization’s purpose?
  • Are you setting goals that are temporarily unrealistic? If so, what will your people do? Tell you that everything is okay or share the truth you don’t want to hear?
  • Are you the leader who is afraid to tell your leader that you’re not making your goals? What will you do?

Maybe you’ve experienced one of these situations in the past as a leader or follower. We’d love to hear about it. Our readers could all benefit from your story, so please courageously share it with us.

**I addressed the VA issue on two recent radio interviews – (1) Federal News Radio and (2) “What’s Happening with Doug Wagner”

 

Related News Articles:

Exclusive: Texas VA Run Like a ‘Crime Syndicate,’ Whistleblower Says

Calls for Eric Shinseki’s resignation grow among Republicans, Democrats

Inspector general’s report confirms allegations at Phoenix VA hospital

VA Awarded $3M in Prizes in Appointment Scheduling App Contest in 2013

 

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——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

 

Visionary Leaders Squeeze Their Creative Juice Every Day

Creativity is vital for leaders in a rapidly changing world. But as a leader, do you have those days when you wake up feeling dull and nothing creative seems to come to mind?

You’re tempted to retreat into the mundane and routine just to get the day over and done with.

Forcing Creativity

Maybe you do manage to pick a subject and try to bludgeon some creativity out of your brain.

  • Which subject to go for?
  • In which direction to travel?
  • What will my new creation look like?

It all seems too much like hard work to me. You’re tired and uninspired. You eventually accept it,  but now what? How do you get new creative ideas to flow from your mind?

A Creative Energy Crisis

The visionary starts with a clean sheet of paper, and re-imagines the world.” ~ Malcolm Gladwell

Can we be creative only when we’re energised? I hear you saying something like this:

When I’m tired I have no energy and I feel incapable of raising the effort. Everything I want to think about just asks too much of me. Without energy how can I possibly come up with anything creative or useful?

Why would you expect to be a full-on high energy creative person every day? There are going to be days like this one. Should you retreat, lick your imaginary self-indulgent wounds and sit in a corner.

If you can crack this challenge you will not be a prisoner of “tiredness.” Luckily there is plenty you can do.

“Creativity is an act of defiance” ~ Twyla Tharp

How Creative Are You?

In a great TEDx talk by John Paul Caponigro, he tells us “You are a lot more creative than you think you are” and gives great ways to trigger our creativity.

The direction you want to take is entirely your decision

Steps To Juicing Your Creative Mind

A key message of John’s is to become childlike again.

  • First release the pressure.
  • Just mess about with “stuff.”
  • Aim nowhere in particular.
  • It doesn’t matter where you start or finish.
  • Have faith, something will develop out of the mist.
  • Keep playing and it will crystallize.
  • The stuff you throw away today might be useful another time, so keep brief notes.
  • Scratch away until things gel, and then focus down on the specifics.
  • Then analyse and introduce your mental editor.

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” ~ Erich Fromm

“Scatching” and Keeping the Good Stuff

Twyla Tharp dancer and choreographer spends many hours in rehearsal, playing with steps and poses, throwing away most of her work but keeping the really good things. She coined the term “scratching.” If it’s good enough for her it’s good enough for me, and you.

Remarkably, energy appears as if by magic driving yet more creativity.

Triggering creativity is about letting the juices flow and revealing the gifts spontaneously. You cannot force it. Next harness and develop your new creation.

My formula for scratching is PTP – Place, Time and Permission.

  • Place – Find a place conducive to scratching. (e.g. a favourite coffee shop, jogging and crucially for teams an agreed thinking space).
  • Time – Give yourself sufficient time. Scratching shouldn’t be rushed.
  • Permission – Give yourself (and others) permission to put aside time to scratch. This time is valuable and not wasted; it’s the golden time which generates the most creative elements of our lives and our work.

Can I add a couple more P’s: patience and persistence?

The Creative Environment

In his brilliant study of the environment of creativity Steven Johnson describes in his video at the top of this post how many great inventions or intellectual leaps have required decades of patient development.

The great ideas often involve the collision of multiple smaller concepts and observations.

He also proposes that creativity is a product of chance and that “chance favours the connected mind.” We are all more connected than ever before which is a good thing. Our challenge is to prevent being distracted by the dross. We need to scratch purposefully to find the hidden gold.

Follow the Leaders

Finally, if this creative process is good enough for the leader it must be good for everyone who follows. The creativity of an organisation will be magnified many-fold if you create a connected physical and cultural environment.

Chance will then favour this highly connected authentically aware creative crowd.

“The things we fear most in organizations—fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances— are the primary sources of creativity.” ~ Margaret J. Wheatley

Action Plan

Your Actions Today

  • Find a Place, assign Time and give yourself Permission to scratch.
  • Let thoughts come and go – don’t concentrate on anything in particular.
  • Play around with ideas and make notes. Is it good for today or tomorrow?
  • Notice how you feel before, during and afterwards.
  • During and at the end of today make notes on what you observed and felt.

Recommended reading

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp

Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

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 Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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