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Transforming cultures through communication and connection.

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Filtering by Tag: Leadership

Design Think Your Way to a Better Culture

For a second year in a row I attended the Creative Problem Solving Institute's yearly conference (CPSI). A couple of days in, it seemed that I was the only person there who did not know what “Design Thinking” was (and everyone seemed pretty excited about the concept), so I took a workshop with Paul Skaggs, a Professor of Industrial Design, so that I could join in on the conversation. 

In short, design thinking is a way of using empathy to look at a product or process through the progression of look, do, ask. Let’s use a conventional spatula as an example.

 Look: They observe the person using the product, looking specifically for ways that the user is altering the product or process, to make it fit a need that the designer didn’t originally think of. This is referred to as “adaptive behavior.” Have you ever taken your spatula and put it on a plate so that the contents of your pan or grill didn’t get on your counter? That’s adaptive behavior.

 Do: They use the product themselves, as if it’s their first time, noticing their own feelings or challenges. Is there anything that is frustrating or awkward about using this product? 

Ask: They suspend their own judgement and come from a place of pure curiosity, asking questions of the person who uses this product the most, specifically looking at how the user is feeling and what they are thinking while using it. 

If we apply this process to the spatula debacle, we end up with something like this:

Look: What are you observing about the way that people interact and work together in your organization? Are they rearranging chairs in a conference room to have more effective meetings? Are they gathering in a certain area to connect and build personal relationships? Are they creating loopholes in processes to get their work done and see the fruits of their labor? 

Do: If you’re in a leadership or management position, spend a day going through the motions with one of your people. What do you, yourself feel and observe? Are there processes or organizational norms (spoken or unspoken) that are getting in the way of people experiencing autonomy, mastery and connection on a daily basis? 

Ask: Get curious! Suspend your own judgement and simply listen for the golden nuggets that, if attended to and designed differently, could change your culture for the better. Look for non-verbal cues and don’t be afraid of silence. 

What would your kickstand spatula culture look like?

Lessons My Toddler Taught Me About Failure

My husband and I recently took Frankie, our 14 month old, to Cape Cod for the first time. He just started walking this summer, so I knew that the sand would be an extra obstacle for his unstable legs. This is what watching him taught me about failure.

1. Celebrate other people’s failures!

When a toddler falls, the last thing you do is gasp and run over to them in a hurried, scared state. Instead, you cheer, so that they will master the skill of walking and not be afraid to fall in the future. Because let’s face it, Mom and Dad are tired of carrying around a 25 lb. person.

What would it be like if we did this for our teams? What if, upon failures, we cheered (figuratively, hey, maybe even literally!) and encouraged one another to fail and learn from those mistakes so that they could become masterful at what they do?

2. Enjoy the fall.

My son laughs when he falls, he thinks it is hilarious. However, it’s much easier to encourage others to fail than it is to be comfortable with it ourselves. How do you see failure? Really? It’s time to reframe. It is an opportunity, not only to learn, but to show others how you deal with failure. If you are hard on yourself, those around you will assume you’ll be just as hard on them, therefore perpetuating the nasty cycle of the fear of failure. Be kind to yourself and find joy in the process.

3. Lead with your gut.

Have you ever noticed the way a toddler walks? They lead with their belly, fully letting it hang out. None of this uncomfortable sucking in, trying to play it safe, appearing like they have it all together. Have you ever seen a baby in spanks? I didn’t think so.

The time when you fail the most epically is going to be when you follow your gut instinct and go for that crazy idea. But you know what? If you learn from it, instead of bailing and sucking it in like it never existed, you may also experience your greatest success.

Frankie spent three days trudging through the most difficult terrain for a toddler to traverse, he must have fallen a hundred times, but do you know what he’s been doing since we got back home? Running!