Creative Solutions Group Blog

  • 08/04/2020 12:39 PM | Anonymous

    To move your organization forward, thinking and acting more strategically will differentiate you and your organization.  One of the challenges is understanding what that means for your organization or your role.

    Here are some approaches you can use to be more strategic:

    • Research Trends – look at what is going on in your profession, industry, competitors and other industries.  You can learn  other industries to see what they are doing and reflect on how you could use some of the same in your role or organization.
    • Questions – ask deep and hard questions…of yourself.  What is working?  What is not working?  What could you be doing differently?  Who do you need to connect with in a new way?  What is slowing you down?  What is “Joe” doing that I am not?  How am I holding the team back?  Taking the time to think, reflect and plan is crucial. 
    • Resist the shiny things – there are so many distractions – meetings, email, phone calls, text.  Now is the time to only focus on the things you need to do vs the nice to do.
    • Develop others – the more you can elevate your team, the more you can shift your focus to work on the business vs in the business.
    • Find a coach – find a person who will give you some tough love.  This person can be inside or outside of your organization.  The key is they will ask you the tough questions and hold the mirror up for you to look at. 
    Acting and being more strategic requires some discipline, the more you practice, the better you will be at it.

  • 07/19/2020 12:36 PM | Anonymous

    As I coach leaders and executives, a common theme keeps popping up – How do I avoid work that I shouldn’t do? or How do I ensure I don’t become a “dumping ground” taking ownership of someone else’s problems?

    We have all been there – 4:30 drop by, the emergency “Bob (the CEO) said he needs this by….”, your team not knowing how, the “you should do this”, random email bomb, etc.  Things that create emotion and frustration. 

    Here are some quick wins for you.

    Situation: Can I have your help with this?
    Mentally you need to ask yourself, is this something I should do?  If the answer is no, a few options for responses are:

    • What have you tried so far?  If they have not tried anything, send them to try and they can come back if needed.
    • If it is something that is not your expertise, recommend someone who is an expert – “I would love to, I am not the best person to do this, you might check with Charlie”
    • Delay the work – say something like, “I would be happy to work with you on this, I am available is next Thursday.”  This typically shifts their focus elsewhere.
    Situation: Here is a problem (dropped in your lap and they walk away)
    This is one of my favorites.  First ask yourself is this YOUR problem?  If you answer no.  Ask questions and use very specific language is important:
    1. Interesting, what have YOU done so far?
    2. Wow, who have YOU talked to about that?
    3. Oh, that sounds important.  What are YOUR next steps?

    Refocusing to them so they have ownership builds their capacity to solve problems and prevents a dump and run.

    Each of the tactics can be used and practiced until you become a master.  The key is using them for good vs getting out of work you should do or as a leader, coaching and developing your team.  If you read this and recognize a time that I did this to you….I am sorry (I’m not sorry) – thanks Demi Lovato!!

  • 07/05/2020 12:35 PM | Anonymous

    ​How do become a memorable leader and in a positive way?  This is a great question especially when looking at engagement data and the connection to your leadership.  Some tactics you can use to truly be memorable (in a good way).

    • Create Meaning be clear on the organization/function purpose and connect this to the passion of each employee. 
    • Know them as a person and be empathetic.  Show care and compassion to your team, provide recognition tailored to what the employee prefers and show respect. 
    • Communicate clearly and often.  Ensure that people know outcomes of decisions, timelines, vision, the “why” and ensure understanding. 
    • Build vision connection.  We all desire out teams to provide discretionary effort, the more we connect the dots for people around the vision, they more they will buy in and drive that way. 
    • Create urgency.  With a balance of fun and execution you can create a desire to win and team.  The key is pushing at the right time AND in the right way to not create excess anxiety. 
    • Be Accountable.  Being personally accountable, owning your errors and be humble. 
    • Hold Accountable.  Having difficult conversations may seem counter to being memorable.  When you are fair, consistent and have difficult conversations, people will remember that you pushed them and didn’t let them off the hook.

    Using these 7 methods can boost engagement, build leadership capacity and an overall positive impact to your team.  Try them and reflect on how you are doing…then keep getting better.

  • 06/21/2020 12:34 PM | Anonymous

    One of the most popular questions I get from the people I coach is how do I grow?  Or How do I grow faster?

    If you are like others and want to know a couple secrets to push yourself to grow, here are my (not so) secret weapons….

    Answer these questions: grow to what?  A better leader?  More efficient?  More influential? Run your own business?  Get specific about what this means and what you will be like on the other side of that growth.

    Decide if you are willing to do the work.  There is work in growth, it isn’t easy and you have to determine what you are willing to give up to get to the other side of that growth.  The things you give up can be time with family, hobbies, favorite job task – you will not get the growth without some sacrifice.

    Get ready to be uncomfortable.  You will experience the more growth when you are uncomfortable and in the unfamiliar.  The more you operate in this uncomfortable state, the more growth you will have.

    Build the habits.  Once you begin to grow, build the habits and continually look back to make sure you are not backsliding (#makeitbettermakeitstick).

    You might be reading this and thinking....4 items?  That’s it?  Yes, that is it.  Give them a go, they are not as easy as they look AND they are worth the effort.

    Growth is about being better.  A better leader.  A better person.

  • 06/14/2020 12:33 PM | Anonymous

    Daniel Pink wrote in Drive that what really motivates us is Autonomy, Mastery & Purpose. 

    ​The idea of mastery creates thinking for each of us –

    • WHAT am I good at? 
    • What do I WANT to be good at? 
    • Am I willing to do the WORK to be a master?
    According to Master Shi Heng Yi there are 5 hindrances you must remove to accomplish this –
    1. Sensual Desire – Following temptation of your senses that you stop your forward movement
    2. Ill Will – Negative emotion towards an object, situation or person
    3. Heaviness – mental of physical effort that holds you back
    4. Unsettled Mind – Not being in the moment or jumping from thing to thing 
    5. Skeptical Doubt – Indecisive or clouded mind creating being stuck
    As I reflected on these hindrances, I can see (and have seen) how they create a cloud that prevents me from moving forward as effectively as I could.  How do you get over these?  Master Shi recommends getting caught in the RAIN
    • Recognize which hindrance you are stuck in
    • Accept that you are there (and accept how people are – you can’t change THEM)
    • Investigate what is keeping you there (ask questions)
    • Non-identify – see that you are made up of the mind, body and emotion and how will you move forward
    Stuck?  Go out in the Rain!!

  • 06/07/2020 12:31 PM | Anonymous

    I had the opportunity to see a speaker (Mike Wagner) a few weeks ago.  He used unique language - “The Great Disruption” rather than COVID-19, Pandemic, New Normal and challenged us to think differently.  This got me thinking, How do you lead if you are personally struggling?  With a pandemic, racial tensions, personal loss or any number of struggles.

    When you are struggling, it causes you stress and anxiety.  According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Stress is a response to a threat in a situation. Anxiety is a reaction to the stress.”  While research has shown a certain level of stress keeps us moving forward, too much can paralyze us.  How do we as individuals and leaders move forward in that spot?

    Morra Aarons-Mele suggests the following:

    • Acknowledge and accept your emotions – they are yours and focus on thriving because of your emotion.  Learn to accept and leverage your anxiety to solve the issue vs ruminate on the emotion/situation.
    • Play Detective – ask questions, pinpoint the cause(s)
    • See if it is causing Physical Impact – do you feel tension in your body? Headaches?
    • Sort out the probable from the possible – focusing what is possible vs the 1:1,000,000 situation
    • Take Action – based on what you identified in the cause and what is possible, move – get-r-done…take small actions that will move you forward

    These steps can move you forward as an individual – how do you translate them as a leader?  The same steps AND add a communication aspect with others for each step and support them as they take action. 

    ​Take your chance and lead through the struggle.

  • 05/10/2020 12:30 PM | Anonymous

    Turmoil can be all around us.  I like to think of turmoil is a core opportunity to learn and grow.
    Over the last 6-8 months I have seen turmoil and witnessed events I did not imagine would happen..

    - Business relationships of decades crumble
    - Friends become frenimies
    - A pandemic shape our personal and professional lives
    Does this mean we are destined for doom?  NO!!

    Turmoil is when you take the time to reflect and learn.   Look back, think, meditate, walk - whatever maximizes you’re reflection.
    Look for the leaning lessons, what will you do different in the future?  What were the warning signs of the turmoil?
    Learn from the past, build a vision of the future then take action to move forward.

    This will differentiate you AND your business. 

  • 09/22/2019 12:28 PM | Anonymous

    Nearly all organizations are fighting the war for talent – open positions, bidding wars, and sometimes finding any resource to keep things moving.  If you search Google War for Talent 2018, you will find 48+ million hits to read.  Forbes identifies one weapon may be your brand, BrainWorks identifies 5 creative ways to win the war, and Inc. describes multiple dimensions on Why the War for Talent is happening.  As you read more, I suspect you will determine, as I did, there is not any one way to win the war.  One strategy you can deploy within your organization is an enhanced focus on quality and continuous improvement tools.  The multiple pronged approach below is a way to garner some quick wins while you concurrently deploy additional tactics and strategies.

    Complete an Assessment
    Leveraging an outside perspective on how you are doing the work, what the customer finds important, any gaps and struggles you have from your workforce perspective is a great way to kick off.  This provides you with initial data on where you can focus your improvement efforts.
    Select a Method or Model
    Whether you choose LeanSix SigmaPDSA, or make up your own – just pick one and start.  As Schlesinger, Kiefer & Brown describes in their bookay Just Start: to take action now and learn as you go. Their premise is a continual cycle Act.Learn.Build (so you can) Act again  and move forward, quickly.  When you pick a method and step forward, you have shared language that your organization can use to make improvements.  Once you have a method identified, use the data from your assessment to determine where to start and get quick wins.

    ​Gain Efficiency – Crush your Sacred Cows
    As you start to have quick wins with the model you have selected, make it okay (really okay, not just say it’s okay) to analyze and question things that have always been there or “The founder doesn’t like it when…” comments should begin to make your spidey sense tingle and ask questions like:

    • What is the purpose of doing it like that?
    • Is it a regulatory requirement or law?
    • Does the customer want it like that?
    • Will it move our business forward?
    • What’s the risk?
    • What’s the benefit?
    Once you have the answers, Act.

    Involve the Brain Capital You Already Have
    You have deep knowledge at your finger tips, your current workforce.  Pink identifies three elements: Autonomy, Mastery, & Purpose in his book Drive.  Engaging the hearts and minds of your current workforce in the ideas and improvements can provide all three elements and create a huge push.  To put it in perspective, you could have a CI expert on site doing projects and save $100,000/year.  While they address the low hanging fruit, they can likely keep this up for a few years until the projects and savings become harder.  Engaging and developing a workforce of 100 in quality and improvement techniques, giving them the autonomy, mastery, and purpose to save $1 a day would accomplish $50,000 savings in 2 years while building a changed focused organization. 

    While quality and improvement tools will not be the full solution to the war on talent, it is one battle that you can get engaged in and make quick wins while building capacity in your talent through engagement, knowledge transfer, efficiency and effectiveness.  Other benefits that are not easily measured are increased morale, engagement, and a decrease in turnover within your organization.

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