Yes and . . . a world of possibilities

June 15, 2012

Image This group, the board of the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS), kicked off their annual planning retreat with some improvisational exercises.  One of the basic rules of improvisation is that you cannot negate anyone’s suggestion.  You must further it. You must say, “Yes, and . . . ”  We did a very powerful exercise illustrating this.  The question before the group was how do we make our organization better?  But the next person in the circle says, “No, that will never work.  But here is my idea . . . ”  Then the next person says, “No, we tried that before and it didn’t work, but here’s my idea.”  The next person says, “That’s stupid, but here’s my idea.”  After a while, it’s like the energy was being sucked from the group.  It was dismal.  Then, we changed the exercise.  After each idea, the next person had to say, “Yes, and . . . ”  After a few minutes, the ideas were free flowing and people built off of the past idea.  There were many ideas that came up that had never been thought about before.  The group was energized and excited about all of these tremendous possibilities.  This simple exercise set a positive tone for the retreat and created an atmosphere of creativity and innovation.

I recently did a similar exercise at Penn State to a group of technical folks at the PACE Conference (Partnership for Achieving Construction Excellence, a consortium of academics, students, and industry folks.  Dan Kerr was in attendance and wrote an interesting post about Integrated Project Delivery and a new breed of engineer.  Check it out!

We must learn to embrace new thinking and new approaches or we will fall behind.  What is your company doing to promote innovation and creative thinking?  Google demands that for 10%of your day, you don’t do any work.  You are to use that time to recharge, to sit and think, to reflect.  It is vital for your well being and the well being of your company.  But we simply don’t do that in most companies in the US.  We put our head down and work, work, work.  Start today creating a “yes, and” culture in your organization.  Promote innovation and creative thinking deliberately by setting aside the time to accomplish such goals.  Let your people know that this thinking is encouraged and rewarded.


Forget About Your People And They Will Certainly Forget About You

August 29, 2011

I attended the SMPS (Society for Marketing Professional Services) National Conference this past week in Chicago and there was a common theme running throughout the conference:

It’s all about your people.

This goes for both internal and external customers.  This concept may seem trite and redundant and many of you will say, “Duh!”  But I think it bears repeating because during these stressful times, we tend to forget that.  Even if it is unintentional,  many companies neglect to truly take care of their people and their external clients.  They are in survival mode, and they buckle down.  The focus is internal, and we forget the people sitting across from us.  Keep in mind that, as a business owner, your people are scared, unsure, and likely approaching burning out with the amount of stress involved in trying to get new work.  This goes for clients as well.  Get up right now and go talk to someone near you.  Ask them how they are doing, and perhaps more importantly, how they are feeling.

During these stressful times, we crave connection with others, so do everything within your power to create those connections.  The golden rule says to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  We talk about the platinum rule which says,  “Treat others the way that they want to be treated.”  Remember, others may want to be treated differently than you would want to be treated. The platinum rule honors that difference.

Both individuals and companies can focus on ways to create more connections with others both internally and externally. Increase the social activities during work hours and after work hours. Involve the families. Let people know you care. Celebrate the wins. Celebrate the personal milestones of births, anniversaries, birthdays, weddings, and graduations.  Mourn the losses personally and professionally with your people.  Let them know that you not only know about their life, but you care about what happens to them.  If you don’t take these steps, be prepared for a mass exodus when the economy turns.  People will go where they feel cared about and nurtured.  Period.  And if you have leaders in the company who don’t subscribe to this notion of taking care of your people, remember that the number one reason people leave their jobs is because they don’t like their boss.

This isn’t hard to do, but it takes effort and focus.  And the payback can be tremendous!  If you have any success stories with this people approach, please share them.  I would love to post it on the BDI Blog!