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"Quality is not an act,
    it is a habit." -- Aristotle

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Let Imagination Guide the Way You do Things

Focus your organization energy for optimal results

by Leilani Henry

Reprinted from the The Denver Business Journal, March 10-16, 2000.

The pace of change in our complex society requires us, as individuals and organizations to nourish our ability to learn and create. We need to "re-balance" our act by incorporating new moves into our everyday business approaches. Whether your company emphasizes creating fast wealth or creating a sustainable future it needs to successfully play with its whole brain to get optimal results.

It is common knowledge that human beings use, at the most, 10 percent of their brains. How does that translate into organization's ability to use its whole brain? We can safely say that if human beings are using 10 percent or less of the brain, there is room for improvement in most companies to access creativity, energy and learning to obtain breakthrough solutions.

We need to allow imagination and play to permeate the way we learn, the way we lead, and the way we build organizational systems. Imagination and play are essential to whole brain functioning. When we are playing or using our imagination, many times we are doing a non-business activity such as taking a shower, a walk, doing dishes or driving.

Brain research shows that motion is essential to real change. We can talk about action, we can read what to do, but only motion causes change. Motion is the changing of position, posture or belief; an inner impulse that is followed to a natural conclusion. You can only learn how to ride a bike by getting on the bike and practicing the motion.

How do individuals and organization gain focus, energy and clarity to create optimal results?

  • Ensure alignment with individual and organization purpose. Share stories about the lives of employees, the company history and dreams of the future.
  • Uncover underlying assumptions and beliefs in how to get the job done what markets to enter, how to lead. Create opportunities for people in all parts of the organization to talk about their perceptions and judgments about the work.
  • Use meetings to encourage venting as well as brainstorming. Make it OK to stretch change seats, sit on the floor or demonstrate an idea by using your body instead of words. Make human sculptures to portray a tough issue and experiment with moving into different sculpture and look for the insight.
  • Organization transformation is also personal transformation. Give people at all levels safe outlets for development and honest exchange of feedback. Individual coaching on life and work issues is critical to the success of the business. Everyone is a teacher and a learner in the new economy and listening to those quiet voices produces unexpected outcomes.
  • Practice radical ideas. Use simulations, metaphors and games to stimulate new thoughts and feelings about tough challenges. Where do we need a "lawn mower" in this company? What about our "garden?" Have we decided which 'plants" need to be near each other to keep the "pests" away?
  • Acknowledge connections. Interconnectedness is the nature of existence. The combined effort of individuals or groups is unchallenged in the face of adversity and opportunity Synergy is a real company asset. Investigate systems that pit individuals or teams against one another. Do people learn, for instance, how to treat the sales department on their first day?
  • Find ways to encourage balance. Companies that pay attention to meaningful work that balances heart and mind, reflection and action, personal and business will enhance the effectiveness of the whole person and the whole organization.

A financial services organization used these types of approaches to transform their internal and external relationships, reach new levels of productivity and handle a variety of organization changes with great ease. Ninety-eight percent of their action plan for change was accomplished in 60 days, and one year later, they continue to achieve positive results. Another Silicon Valley company installed a slide on the third floor of their office. Most employees travel to the third floor at the end of the day to slide down to the lobby to de-stress and leave with a smile.

Through imagination, play and creativity, we deepen our ability to find solutions that were previously outside of our reach. The answers, for which we are searching, are within us. Creative approaches that include movement and play, tap into implicit knowledge, magnify our unique contributions and assist with the collective discovery of unprecedented action.
 

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