Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Creativity Leads Productivity

Are you looking for ways to be more productive, or to help your team become more productive?

Trying to go faster is of limited use. Working harder will wear you out. Blaming yourself does not help. What you need is more creativity.

Creativity leads productivity by unlocking new ways of doing things. By breaking limitations. By forging new techniques. By testing the impossible. By focusing on solutions instead of issues.

Sometimes the problem is outside of you, but the solution starts within.

Find it. Create it. Do those activities that open up your mind to new possibilities. For some people that is exercise. For some people it is painting. For others it's a stimulating conversation with a trusted friend.

How can you spark more creativity that can lead to more productivity?

Here are just a few possibilities:
  • Think of the opposite of your deliverable. What would it take?
  • Combine an idea from other process. How would that work?
  • Take a walk and let your body energize your ideas. What haven't you thought of yet?
  • Make music, even if you're not a musician. How does it feel to have both sides of your brain working together?
  • Explore how a leader in another field tackles productivity. What solutions in that field might be interesting in yours?
  • Change your workspace to create more opportunities to flow, rather than impede energy. That could mean a desk where you stand instead of sit. Or placing equipment that is within reach. 
  • Team up with new people and talk about the changes you want to make. What ideas do they have? 
What creative ideas of your own spring to mind?


-- Douglas Brent Smith

Creativity plays a large role in our workshop Solving Problems.  I invite you to contact me today about bringing this workshop to your location:

doug@frontrangeleadership.com

Monday, May 6, 2013

What Your Audience Wants

Do you know what your audience wants?

Do you consistently deliver on what your audience perceives to be your key promises?

Better service. Friendlier relationships. Cooler products. Fewer problems. Convenience. Or is it more than that?

Maybe your audience is looking for something distinctive. Maybe your audience wants to know why you are their best choice. Not someone cheaper. Not someone more controversial. Not someone with more bells and whistles. You.


Here's what I think it comes down to:

Tell me a story. Leave out the boring parts. Surprise and delight me. Now you know what your audience wants.

Is that what you are providing them?

-- Douglas Brent Smith


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Sometimes Learning Takes Work

Have you noticed that not all learning is easy? That sometimes, the lesson in front of you took far more effort than you'd expected or wanted?

We learn in so many ways. Some of them take work. While music comes naturally to me, I do have to really work to learn a new language. My Spanish is broken and at an elementary level, but brings me such joy I plod on, even though it comes with much difficulty.

Projects learn at the speed of the team, and sometimes the team is reluctant to learn. "Why can't things just work the way they always have?" "How long do we have to stay with this until it turns out the way we want it to?" These are questions team members sometimes ask. It depends, of course. It depends on how fast, and with how much difficulty, we learn what we need to learn.

If all learning was effortless it wouldn't do us much good.

It's in the effort that we stretch. It's in the difficulty that we grow. It's in the testing that we prosper.

Sometimes learning does take work. And, it's worth it. It's worth it for better projects. It's worth it for better teams. And it's worth it for improving performance.

What are you working on to learn today?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Friday, May 3, 2013

How Do You Handle Disappointment?

What do you do when things don't turn out like you planned?

How do you bounce back and get yourself back on track?

Do you check your plan? Do you retrace your actions? Do you vow to better prepare the next time?

Sometimes circumstances foil even our best plans. Often, surprised and stunned we stumble over an unexpected obstacle or two (or twenty). Inside, though, is a lesson. Deep within the experience are the seeds of something better.

Probing, questioning, exploring with curiosity the surprises we found we may discover that they needn't have been surprises at all. Perhaps we could have prepared for them, afterall. Maybe we have more control and influence over our destiny than we gave ourselves credit for.

What do you think?

Each disappointment is an invitation to better preparation.

It's not a guarantee -- but it's better insurance than ignoring the possibilities.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Thursday, May 2, 2013

One Thing at a Time

How many things do you do while you're eating a meal?

Taking notes? Watching TV? Tweeting? Facebooking? Reading?

It's not surprising or unusual to do any one or all of those activities while we eat. We do live in a multi-tasking world. But eating is eating and wonderful in itself. What if you only spent the time in a meal, on that meal? What if you gave that meal your full attention?

Turn everything off and eat your next meal in silence. Be fully attentive to your meal. Enjoy this part of your life.

There's time to get back to multitasking later. For now, mindfully eat, and see how refreshed and re-energized you become.

Who knows, it could very well give a boost to your performance.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Getting Better at Feedback

As a leader, are you working on your feedback?

While some people are more skilled at feedback than others, we can all improve how we deliver it, how we accept it, and what we do it once we get it.

When we ask for feedback we create an expectation of action: what will we DO with that feedback?

People take your requests for feedback most seriously when you ask frequently and respond immediately.

Ask. Listen. Consider (instead of judge) and respond.

Then, as it says on the shampoo bottle, "rinse and repeat..."

-- Douglas Brent Smith