Innovation, Creativity and You?

Abundance Collaboration Transformation


Key Point: Organizations are expecting us to be creative and innovative, individually and collectively. If we are in formal leadership roles, we are also expected to develop and implement processes that ignite results-driven innovation. So is innovation kind of an unplanned spark? Current research suggests that sitting around waiting for an “ah ha” moment is definitively the wrong way to trigger right-brain creative activity.

As noted in a recent Big Think blog by Jonah Lehrer

“What gets the alpha waves flowing, facilitating the semi-dream-state in which we’re best able to connect those unlikely dots, is a change of scenery – a long aimless walk, for example, or travel abroad. In this sense, the Internet, an endless web of discovery and rabbit holes to alternate dimensions, is an enormous creativity machine.”

What is your individual and leadership process for driving creative innovation?

Lehrer explains in his new book Imagine: How Creativity Works, that neuroscientists are focusing on inspiration as a function of the right hemisphere of the brain (the less literal half that exceeds at making associations between things that don’t obviously go together). And there is further evidence that it is often the outsider who is best able to “think outside of the box” in order to approach longstanding problems in an entirely new way. That is another reason why accelerating diversity and collaboration in its fullest sense is so important to organizations. In our financial institution we’re trying to get people to think outside of the “vault.” Diversity in every sense, along with investing in collaboration skills is a priority.

What if we could harness the web’s unique power to enable unlikely insights? That was Eli Lilly’s intention when it helped to develop InnoCentive, (a crowdsourcing site where it could post its thorniest R&D problems for anyone to solve, and reap a monetary reward). InnoCentive was designed to expand Eli Lilly’s brainpower, by tapping into a larger pool of innovators than the company could ever employ. 30 to 50 percent of the problems posted on InnoCentive were solved. A study by Karim Lakhani at Harvard Business School shows that experts outside of the field, (chemistry problems solved by physicists, engineering problems solved by chemists, etc.) solved most problems on InnoCentive.

This is further evidence that it is often the outsider who is best able to “think outside of the box,” to approach longstanding problems in an entirely new way or take the conversation in a completely different direction. This happens precisely because he/she isn’t constrained by the “common sense” of the discipline.

Character move:

  1. Recognize that innovation and creativity is a process, individually and collectively.
  2. Develop your own personal process and approach to innovation and creativity.
  3. Embrace the fullest definition of diversity to embrace thinking outside the box.
  4. Clearly defining the problem you want to solve is a skill. Cause and effect are not closely related in space and time. The up front clarity and work at getting insight on this is critical to accelerate innovation.
  5. Harness the web to help get creative and innovative solutions. And learn about Silicon Valley’s IDEO; arguably one of the best companies in the world at translating innovation into huge commercial success.

Creativity and innovation in The Triangle,




How Does Google ‘Search Inside Itself?’

Accountability Books Personal leadership


Key point: As Chief People Officer of a leading financial institution, I’m interested in learning what type of leadership development has a sustainable positive impact. I was fascinated by the New York Times article on the front page of April 29, 2012’s business section by Caitlin Kelly. One of the most popular development courses at hard driving Google is called “Search Inside Yourself” (SIY) presented by a Google engineer (employee 107), Chade-meng Tan. The class has three steps: Attention training, self- knowledge and self-mastery. The program has a waiting list, and runs seven weeks. Over one thousand Google people have taken the class to date. If hard driving, results focused Google sees the value in Emotional Quotient (EQ) development, how about you?

My view is that EQ is the real differentiator these days. Most companies have more than ample IQ machismo. But organizations, business models, processes, systems, etc. are run by people. And the full court press on productivity and speed in today’s organizations, exacerbated by technology and global competition, is relentless. There is no such thing as “down time” unless you want to go out of business. So we have to equip ourselves with ever increasing skills in self-awareness, self-mastery, and super powers that enable us to connect within ourselves and to others. Our mission is to personally evolve AND develop exceptional value. Ideally the organizations we work at, like Google, make that skill development opportunity available through formal learning opportunities. If not, (and many organizations don’t get it) we need to find the resources to develop ourselves without depending on our employers.

Character move:

  1. Find out the content in Google’s “Search Inside Yourself” course (read Tan’s new book of the same title). Search for other EQ development courses offered.
  2. Determine key skills in the areas of attention training, self- knowledge and self-mastery that you want to develop. There are many ways of accessing great resources other than what Google has to offer. Many very credible teachers are on-line and/or in your local area.
  3. Develop your own, personal “Search Inside Yourself” course and take one step at a time, over a lifetime. Ideally find a “buddy” or two you can work with to make the journey more fulfilling and successful.
  4. Learn about the Siberian North Railroad (S.B.N.R.R.). Stop.Breathe.Notice.Reflect.Respond.

SIY in The Triangle

– Lorne


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Abundance Kindness


Key point: The following quote is from expert blogger Brian Solis’ The 6 Pillars of Social Commerce: Understanding the Psychology of Engagement. 

“Perhaps the greatest asset in social capital is that of benevolence. It’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of paying it backward, where we expect to be paid or rewarded for our goods, services, or actions. However, those who invest in helping others or those who pay it forward will earn something greater than a reaction, they will earn a repository of reciprocity. As human beings, we have an innate desire to repay favors to maintain a balance of social fairness whether or not those favors were invited.”

I know from my 40+ years in business that the above is a “truism.” If we make a point to just give without expecting reciprocity at work, we will build a network of support that will be powerful. It has to be genuine but if we act with care and sincere benevolence, our “social capital bank account” grows exponentially. I’m not talking about just the big recognition events but mostly the day-to-day stuff. Think about the following actions in just ONE day of thoughtful action:

1. You smile and walk into the office and ask how the receptionist’s weekend was and you genuinely listen with presence to the response. (Investment: A mind-set and a few minutes).

2. You bring in a latte for a colleague who you know has little time to get one in the morning. (Investment: $3.50 and a little planning).

3. You send a quick email sincerely complimenting a teammate on something they did. (Investment: Five minutes and a habit in your daily system).

4. You give a call to a colleague as a “heads up” on an issue you know they need to be aware of. (Investment: Five minutes and caring about impacting others).

5. You send a personal card of thanks to someone who helped you on a project. (Investment: Five minutes and a little planning to make this easy to do).

6. At lunch, you Tweet-a-Beer to a friend outside of work; someone who you know is celebrating/struggling/or you just want to let know you’re thinking about them. (Investment: $5 dollars and two minutes to send on Tweet-a-Beer).

7. You walk by a colleague and with meaning ask them about their child, partner, project, car, whatever you are interested in knowing about. (Investment: Five minutes, caring and being present minutes).

8. You thank your boss for the help they gave you on a recent difficult issue. (Investment: Common sense and recognizing your boss likes to get acknowledged too).

9. You pick up your coffee cup and trash after a meeting so someone else doesn’t have to. (Investment: Common courtesy).

10. You schedule a meeting at another person’s space purposefully so you can recognize others from another department as you walk in to the meeting. (Investment: Travel time).

The 10 actions above are almost “free” and probably net around 30 minutes of time investment. And other than minimal time, they can involve zero monetary investment if you choose. But think about the “social capital bank account” you will build when you do some variation of the above activities DAILY! This is the social capital version of compound interest!

Character move:

  1. Apply a benevolence mind set to establish a “social capital bank account.”
  2. Develop a genuine (you can’t pretend or fake this) game plan to recognize others as part of your daily routine.
  3. Commit to a minimum of five conscious and thoughtful acts a day. Make it a habit. (Then you can progress to 10+).
  4. Watch your “bank account” grow!
  5. Obviously you have to work on your skill and competence too, but when you build your social capital “bank account,” you leverage your results!

Getting rich at work in the Triangle,