Emotional Intelligence and Innovation

Angry Penguin

A few weeks ago, my two boys engaged in a heated argument about whether reading Harry Potter, then watching the movie, was a tradition or a condition. My kindergartener started by saying watching a movie, only after reading a book, was a tradition. He pointed to the fact we had read three Harry Potter books, then watched the three movies as proof. Conversely, my second-grader rationalized that watching a movie after reading a book was a condition. He surmised the fact we never watched the movie first, made movie watching conditional to reading.

In the end, I surprised my boys by sharing they were both right. Watching the movie was both a tradition and a condition. This rocked my boys worlds. As I explained why it was both a tradition and condition, they simmered down and listened intently.  As emotions subsided, they were able to take in alternative points of view.

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Three Things Strategy Isn’t

There are many definitions of what strategy is, yet most people find the notion of strategy confusing. Rather than adding to the confusion about strategy, we’ll look at the question from another angle. Here are three things strategy isn’t. These observations come from participating in strategy development sessions and conversations within dozens of organizations. During this time, these tenants have rung true:

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Project Managers Are Creative Too!

idea

Image by orkboi via Flickr

There’s a lot of talk about creativity these days. A sweeping number of companies around the globe cite creativity as the number one competency for the future. Creativity beats out rigor, management discipline, integrity and even vision for this coveted position.

About a month ago, I ran a creativity training program for an advertising agency. The folks who attended the training included representatives from strategy, account management, and project management. As I invited participants to introduce themselves, a curious trend emerged. More so than any other discipline, project management professionals described themselves as “not creative.”  This is unfortunate as the prevailing question in the field of creativity has shifted from, “Are you creative?” to “How are you creative?”

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Meetings…How many people does it take to solve a problem?

Conference room

Image by Duke Energy via Flickr

Recently, I’ve been pondering how many (or how few) people it takes to efficiently and effectively solve a problem. Unfortunately, sometimes solving problems means lots of meetings. While meetings are intended to promote collaboration and to bring the best thinking to challenges, not all meetings are productive. I believe  good meetings hinge upon two things: 1) leadership and 2) teamwork. As I watched the recent U.S. debt deal unfold in Congress, I began to think about how poorly solved problems could be a result of unproductive meetings.

When it comes to leadership, a good leader sets a vision, creates clear goals AND helps the team reach those goals. Yes, there are different types of leadership styles and ways of approaching situations, but as author, John C. Maxwell said, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”

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Drawing as a Skill for Creative Leadership

creativity

For many years I have wanted to capture the images I see in my mind in enough detail so that those around me could understand them. I am a visual thinker and connect images mentally, however, I am unable to present them physically.  In 2010, I attended the CPSI conference and joined Jon Pearson’s Draw Power. At a minimum, I expected he would be able to help me capture the vivid pictures in my mind onto paper. I envisioned myself becoming adept at taking the realistic images in my mind and capturing them in a recognizable format for all to see and understand. Well, I was wrong – in a good way

Fortunately, Jon had something even greater in store. Through exercises in scribbling and doodling, Jon helped participants connect visual images and verbal descriptions using our hearts rather than our minds. At first, this was awkward. To draw without thinking took a great deal of effort. But because we only had a few seconds per drawing, disconnecting my mind from my body became easier. After leading us in a quick doodle, Jon asked us to articulate what the image said about us. Interestingly, a few stray marks on a page quickly turned into my description, ‘I am a tenacious person and all of these dots on the page represent the number of angles I take to solve a challenge.’ The Draw Power session helped me understand a picture really is worth a thousand words.

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