Spring! The Organic Side of Team Building

Spring! The Organic Side of Team Building

Have you seen spring yet?  Here in central Pennsylvania we are seeing a very slow appearance of spring, with cold temperatures and April snow. May is bringing a glimmer of hope that spring is coming! This time of year brings to my mind that teams trying to bring new ideas to fruition have a lot in common with the little seedlings that we started in our greenhouse months ago.  We start with something that looks hard, lifeless, and seemingly too small to do anything.  To bring life to this seed, we: provide a warm (welcoming) environment. provide water…not a lot; a little at a time, consistently and gently. nurture them. We don’t immediately send them to the outdoors. notice when their little pot is constraining…so we add nutrients, maybe even transplant them to a bigger pot. give them sunshine while carefully making sure they don’t get dried out or wilted. Too much of a good thing is detrimental to this young...
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Getting the Innovative Ideas Your Business Needs

Getting the Innovative Ideas Your Business Needs

Yesterday, I was confronted with one of those moments as a mom.  The kids slept long enough for me to have a shower (YAY!) and we were going through our morning routine.  I went to change the baby and was surprised that my toddler was quietly playing by himself in the other room.  Looking back, this was like one of those moments in the movies where the audience sees what is about to happen, but the character is clueless. I returned to the living room to find my toddler had pulled out of the hamper the full load of clean clothes that I had been too tired to fold the night before.  They were all over the dining room floor and he was happily walking through them saying, “crunchy leaves!” After I took a few deep breaths (and taking a picture), I asked him to put it all back in the hamper.  He did and went on to nonchalantly tell me he...
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Need Out of the Box Thinking? Get off the typical road!

Need Out of the Box Thinking? Get off the typical road!

Struggling to get your team to think creatively?  Are you looking for innovation by trying the same old strategy of "think outside the box?"  Struggling to get them to move past the same old answer? Try this approach – it’s how I get my GPS…and teams… to creatively find ways around the well worn thought patterns. Recently I was driving home to Lancaster, PA from Dulles airport, nominally a 2.5 hour drive. But the Google Maps app was estimating over 3 hours, due to a jam on I-95 north. It recommended a sidestep to miss some of it, but I wasn’t liking the option. That recommendation saved less than 10 minutes. Coming north from DC, there are three significant options off the top of the beltway; I-95, the Baltimore Washington Parkway (295), and good old US Route 1. Route 1 is the slowest as it’s just a 4 lane road, with traffic lights. As I came to the top of the beltway, I saw the traffic warning signs...
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Improving Process Thinking: Are you just saying “throw a strike?”

Improving Process Thinking: Are you just saying “throw a strike?”

It’s spring, and time to think baseball.  It may also be good time to get our processes in better shape, so here’s a story to help you differentiate process thinking from outcome thinking…critical to process improvement. A while back, I was helping a good guy coach. An accountant by profession, it did seem that the scorebook was his favorite piece of equipment, but he was a nice guy and he wasn’t a screamer. (keep that in mind…it sets the tone) In this one game, the coach’s son took to the mound. He was one of the better pitchers in our league, a tall kid with heat and control. But on this day, it would be different. As the first pitch left his hand, I thought to myself “that’s not a strike.” It was low outside, the ump called “ball”. His Dad then provided this advice to the mound. “Throw a strike.” It was said encouragingly, not even sternly. It was just a clear reminder of the desired outcome. I thought jokingly to myself,...
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Innovation is to bread making as…

Innovation is to bread making as…

It crosses cultures.  There are infinite varieties.  It is a staple for most people in the world.  It provides nourishment.  For thousands of years we didn’t truly understand what was happening to make it work.  And this fabulous invention is…Bread! I want to share with you another way I see this  - the transformation of dry flour, some water and magic into this fabulously yummy food staple… as an illustration for innovation. Many of us have heard of the term innovation.  Frequently it's plugged in as part of a mission or vision statement; sometimes it's plastered on a motivational poster trying to motivate you to come up with the next new thing.  But seriously, what IS innovation? Long drawn out dramatic pause… Innovation is ideas in action.  Really implemented ones!  And for anyone who has tried to entice innovation out of the dark recesses of our tacit knowledge, he or she knows how shy it can be. I'm sure you've all been in that...
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