What do I do?

What do I do?

What box do I fit in?

I find it hard to answer these questions because what I do, to me, is nothing special, except that it is, because for a lot of people what I do is magic.

To me what I do is nothing special because it’s just the way I am, but I am magic and my magic is that I listen.

I listen to people and I solve their business problems. Their problems with processes, technology, employee engagement.

I ask questions and listen until I understand.

I ask questions, challenge assumptions, until I have a clear picture of the situation.

I ask questions and discover the underlying issues.

I ask questions.

I listen.

I suggest practical, implementable solutions.

I am magic.

I enable you to be self-sufficient and not dependant on me for what I know: I will teach you what I have learned so that you can help yourself.

I am magic.

Note: this comes as a follow-on to the video, “Don’t put me in a box“.

Feedback on a Workshop Experience

I’m working on some new marketing/positioning materials and going through the quotes etc. that I have from clients over the years and came across this one from a workshop I did a couple of years ago with a couple of colleagues, although the feedback is directly about me/my role. The workshop was about bringing artistic principles to the workplace and combined artistic activities with more typical (and expected) business activities. The participant wishes to remain anonymous, and I have edited the person’s words for clarity, but otherwise the words are theirs.

“This was one of the funniest workshops that I have ever attended…what I can say though, is two things…

“I had…I am a very curious person, so even prior to the workshop I had [wondered] who is that Stephanie Barnes? I had found her website and looked at some of her art because I wanted to know who is that person, right? I certainly intensified that quite a bit after the event, because I thought this really very interesting, but what else does she do? I need to look at some of her paintings more closely.

“The second thing that happened was that I was really very, very impressed with the way that Stephanie conducted this workshop and how she actually managed, it was magical, but anyway, she managed to make us as in also me, actually paint, I have it sitting at home. Me, I would normally say, ‘aaahhhh’ before I do something silly or stupid or you know…but without having to feel funny about it, just let it evolve, just let it naturally happen, or whatever. I don’t really know how all that worked and came into being, but it was certainly her way. And it was secondly, that the workshop was prepared really well, we had all these facilities that you could think of to become creative, all sorts of crayons, acrylic colours, and all sorts of tools that you could think of and we were treated as (and this is also something I appreciated very much) we were treated like artists ourselves. Like, you know, just get on with it, just do it. And never-the-less, we were always invited to ask for help, or tips, advice…so that was the workshop.”

I am so glad I found these comments, they made me smile and remember why it is I do what I do. I am also grateful that this workshop participant took the time to share these thoughts.

Entelechy: a poem

Realise your potential.
Realise your team’s potential.
Realise your organisation’s potential.

Do you know how?

Engage the whole person: the analytical part AND the creative part.

Stop forcing people into boxes.
Engage the whole person.

They will be better off.
The team will be better off.
The organisation will be better off.

What I do….in my own words

I have written this as a response to someone who is curious about what I do, but hasn’t been able to talk with me, I share my slightly edited response at his request.

First I have to start with a link to the videos on my website with a recommendation that you watch them, I’ll try not to repeat myself here.

The work I do is centred around helping people to rediscover their creativity. I work with organisations and individuals to do this.

With individuals we engage in a variety of creative activities and discussions about how they can be more creative in both their personal and professional lives. This conversation typically goes over a series of sessions during the course of a period of weeks or months.

In the case of organisations I work with them to look at ways to make their staff more creative, which leads to innovation so that the two are tied together in an organisational setting more so than in personal setting. We look at ways to bring these activities into the daily activities whether it’s in meetings or in the office environment in general– something they can do in their offices or cubicles or in a meeting room with some other people, we look at doing workshops on a regular basis as in an organisational setting it is more about culture change and employee engagement, which as we both know, studies have shown that increased/improved employee engagement has positive effects on the organisation and its profitability and success.

I come to this work through a path that started in accounting and information technology, then knowledge management. There’s more about that in the first part of the second video in the Creativity Chats series that I am doing with Paulina Larocca, so I won’t repeat that here, you can watch the video, here https://youtu.be/1jxUgHyTRDk

Our exchange started from your question about employee disengagement and ways to decrease it; usually people talk about increasing employee engagement rather than decreasing employee disengagement. I know I sent you a blog post from another site as well as the one on mine and that you are looking to put some dollars behind that. I think if you take figures from the Gallup studies that look at the consequences of increasing employee engagement by 10%, for example, it is going to give you the numbers you’re looking for its just that it’s the opposite of how you been thinking about it.

The creative leadership work that I talk about on my blog can be seen as a contributing factor in improving employee engagement so you may want to consider that too.

Anyway I hope this all helps let me know if you have questions.

Best Regards,
Stephanie

Taking Your KM Program to the Next Level

What is KM about?

It depends on who you ask and what their experience is with it. Some people/organisations focus on technology, some on people, some on process, a very few recognise that it needs to be a balance among the three, and for good measure also create a strategy to support their plans and ideas and to ensure alignment with the organisation.

But beyond that, what is knowledge management about? Why do we/our organisations do it? 

For many organisations and people the answer, has to do with learning, and being able to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. I always liked to say it’s about giving people the knowledge they need to do their jobs, whatever form that knowledge took. But, what if it’s not quite that easy, especially as jobs, like life, are becoming ever more complex?

It’s really not enough to give people a database or app or platform to share knowledge. It’s not enough to implement a lessons learned process, or communities of practice. All good and noble pursuits, but what if that’s not enough to deal with the complexity?

The World Economic Forum’s most recent Future of Jobs Report, a summary of which you can read here, says we need to be life long learners. It also lists the top 3 skills that are growing in need/importance:

  1. Analytical thinking, and innovation
  2. Active learning, and learning strategies
  3. Creativity, originality, and initiative

What struck me most about the #1 item on that list, is that is is both analytical and creative, it requires “both sides of your brain” (yes, I know that we have found that that’s not physically how the brain actually works, but I like the metaphor of it, so I’m using it anyway). But so for so many people their creativity was educated and socialised right out of them. They needed to get good marks in school, do well at their jobs, etc. and so in order to fit in they learned to regurgitate facts and think like everyone else.

However, in today’s world, and in the world that is quickly coming at us, regurgitating facts and doing what we’re told, isn’t enough, doing the “same old, same old” isn’t enough. It’s time to look at things differently, to learn new ways of doing things, to re-learn our lost creativity. KM programs should be supporting that, after-all they are about organisational learning, creating new knowledge (which is innovation, by the way).

And, one of the best things about focusing on creativity and innovation is, people understand what those terms mean, no one understands what knowledge management is. Another great thing about creativity and innovation, is that there is lots of research that supports its importance to people and the workplace, something that can’t be said about KM (mostly because KM can’t decide what it is, not that it’s not useful).

So, for all you KM people out there, don’t you want to take your KM activities to the next level of organisational learning? Help make your organisations innovative and creative? Help them meet the challenges of the age we live in?

Let’s talk about helping people re-learn their creativity!

This is only one way to re-learn creativity, there are lots more….

Why Creative Leadership is good for your organisation

Let’s first start with: what is Creative Leadership?

Creative Leadership takes more calculated risks and keeps innovating in how they lead and communicate. They are ready to upset the status quo even if it is successful and are committed to ongoing experimentation with disruptive business solutions

In a 2010 study done by IBM (and cited in this HBR article) organisations that had creative leaders had 6 times higher revenue growth and planned to get 20% of their revenue from new sources in the near future.) The article also cites increased employee engagement as an outcome of Creative Leadership.  

Why does this matter?

Well the revenue/profit connection is clear (I hope). But what does Employee Engagement have to do with anything?

Well, employees who are engaged in their jobs/careers are more productive, which leads to increased profitability. Because they are more engaged there is less absenteeism, increased loyalty, higher retention and thus lower turnover.

Employees who are satisfied and engaged are better at solving problems and engaging with customers (from the previously cited HBR article).

So, how do you bring Creative Leadership to your organisation?

Create a culture where it is okay to try and fail, a culture where it is acceptable to question the status quo, to unlearn and selectively forget past successes, and co-create new products and services with employees, customers, partners, and the wider community. Help staff re-learn how to be creative, because it was educated out of them. 

Creative Leadership isn’t just about those higher up in the hierarchy having these skills, this is about everyone having these skills. In the knowledge economy, everyone is a leader and everyone is a follower. Creative Leaders create more Creative Leaders.