Tag: alternative thinking

Weirdos And Mavericks In Whitehall?

weirdos and mavericks in whitehallMuch has been made in the press of Dominic Cummings and his desire to appoint ‘weirdos’ to all parts of the Civil Service. I have a couple of articles written a while ago about being a rebel and also appointing them. If you are interested read Harnessing The Power Of Rebels and Become A Rebel And Boost Your Career.

Dominic Cummings ‘vision will never happen for a number of reasons.

First of all Whitehall moves more slowly than an oil tanker, and to force it to do so would not just dismantle the machinery that keeps the UK running, it would put a giant bomb underneath it.

Secondly, and more importantly, creativity cannot be left to work on its own, unless of course, you live in a commune. All creative environments have very carefully crafted ‘containers’ to nurture the creativity and also extract the output of the creative processes. In an organisation this can be hard, but in Whitehall?

Finally, what is his strategy for doing this? Will he have a large sports hall full of weirdos all throwing in their ideas or will he replace many of the people in the Whitehall machinery with his alternative thinking recruits? Too many weirdos and he risks replacing one ‘establishment’ with another.

True creativity comes from a tension (think straight vs funny in comedy) and making use of that requires people with a true understanding of the problem, not just a love of sound bites.

I cannot deny that Whitehall does deserve a bit of a shakeup but there needs to be an end goal. Whitehall is a machine that does things (like run the country) it is not a playground or a think tank. The job in hand is not unlike trying to tune a racing car whilst it is being driven around a race track.

Maybe a good plan is to start small by picking a government department that is small and possibly relatively new. Try moulding that, by introducing new ways of working and create a pilot (or prototype as some innovators might say). Then play some more.

To be truly creative the Whitehall structures would need to be fluid and I’m not sure that government is ready for that just yet.

Lastly, I have one further thought. Exactly how is this to be done? Scope it, put it out to procurement and you will simply get a spec for a very large and expensive change program which will see the big consultancy boys in lunches for a long time and will be no different from what has gone before. After all, they probably ran the last change program!!

Readers will be thinking that although I promote Creativity and Innovation  I am simply rubbishing the ideas of Dominic Cummings. The civil service requires reform, it does not require complete anarchy.

I remain both hopeful and sceptical that something at least a little weird will happen.

The Order Of Chaos – Dealing With Complexity

chaos order complexityChaos, disorder, entropy – it always seems to increase. To try and make sense of this fact, organisations put in place more and more elaborate structures. We simply cannot tolerate chaos, either as individuals or as organisations.

We grow up listening to the mantra ‘You can only manage what you can measure’, or at least manage what you can grasp hold of or touch! Our endless creation of structures, procedures, and hierarchies has been a fruitless task, like repairing earthquake damage with sticky tape.

As many scientists know, entropy always increases, we can do nothing to stop it, and I do not propose that we try. Here I talk about chaos, which is what we feel and observe and which causes physical reactions such as stress. This we can do something about.

Is chaos simply a matter of perspective, a product of where we make our observations from, and how far away we are?

If you sit inside an atom and watch electrons whizzing around your head like flies around a picnic, you might think this is chaos. Step up a level and our atom now seems to have some order.

We see electrons moving around the nucleus of the atom, rather like planets orbiting around the Sun.

Step up again and you might see molecules or even real objects such as chairs or tables. It’s all about perspective. We can now see patterns, there is no random motion, BUT we do appear to have lost some detail.

Changing perspective is the backbone of creative or alternative thinking. Think of a time when you were reading house particulars. One family member sees a games room with bar, another sees a well-equipped kitchen whilst some simply see comfortable bedrooms and tranquil bathrooms. Everyone is, however, looking at the same thing but from a different perspective.

By shifting perspective we can bring order to chaos, but is this what we need (or want). I shall examine this further in upcoming posts. Stay tuned!

 

Student Tuition Fees – Who Should Pay?

Who should pay student feesA new paper published by the Intergenerational Foundation this week states that student tuition fees are economically inefficient. The press release for the paper states:

A new paper published today challenges the current funding system in higher education, calling it “economically inefficient”. In the paper, Dr Kevin Albertson, Professor of Economics at Manchester Metropolitan University, points out that the public benefits of a young person’s getting a higher education qualification more than outweigh the costs, according to the government’s published figures.

The paper uses an alternative way of thinking about the economics and is a very good example of how creative or alternative thinking can be used to solve problems and change the status quo. In a nutshell, tuition fees should be paid by the government as they reap the economic benefit. Read the full press release to find out more.

Click on the link to download the full press release and contact details of the author Student Fees - Who Should Pay?

Become A Rebel And Boost Your Career

Become a rebel with a cause to boost your careerHarvard Business School professor Francesca Gino firmly believes that being a rebel with a cause will boost your career and enrich you personally.

The professor conducted a study of more than 1000 employees. He found that less than 10% worked at companies that encouraged challenging the status quo. According to her “when this happens, workers and their organisations both pay a price”. The price is decreased engagement, productivity and innovation.

Apparently the pressure to conform also increases as people progress in their careers. She states that sheep are easier to manage than wolves. A study on peer pressure by psychologist Solomon Asch found that 75% of people will pick an answer they know is wrong simply in order to fit in.

The professor believes that if we adopt constructive nonconformism and be authentic then this will benefit the organisation that you work for. In addition others respond positively to those who dare to be genuine and authentic. In an assessment of entrepreneurs at pitch contests, those who seemed sincere were three times more likely to win than those who were not authentic.

Professor Gino has 3 tips for us:

  1. Challenge your own assumptions first
  2. Master the past
  3. Start small

If you have any questions regarding being a rebel then please get in touch.

Making Use Of The Mood Hoovers

Mood Hoovers! Do you have some of those negative people in your business who just suck the life out of you? If you are self employed maybe you are surrounded by some. What do you do about them?

I spent some time talking to individuals who provide coaching and their take on it was to simply ignore these people. This could work if you work on your own and can make that choice but what about those people who work in organisations?

Negativity, like positivity is a resource that can be used so why ignore or waste it? Lets actively make use of it. But how?

There are a number of creative or alternative techniques that can be used to harness negative energy which I will not go into here, however the fundamental principle is the same. Even the most positive of us have a negative streak so let s first of all use this to create something. Maybe it is a whole heap of ideas or a story. As long as there is some sort of mapping between our negative output and something positive in the real world.

So why is this good? First of all, you will get a lot of output! Secondly when we generate ideas we find it easy to judge them. You will have noticed many comments such as ‘that won’t work’ or ‘we can’t afford that’. If what you are producing is in fact negative, the mood hoovers will find it very difficult to judge!