Archive for category ideas
With the passing of the 41st President of the United States, President George H.W. Bush, his death brings us closer to the loss of all the brave men and women who embodied The Great Generation. The life lessons, that so many of us have learned from our fathers and mothers, farther-in-law and mother-in-law, grandfathers and grandmothers, aunts and uncles, along with all the millions of others who were part of The Great Generation; passed onto us are indeed countless.
The past few days I’ve heard and seen those who were close to our 41st President share stories of his great strength and character. One of those was that of Samuel Palmisano, the former Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of IBM, who is a close friend of the Bush Family. Mr. Palmisano shared the contents of a handwritten letter written in 2009 on the personal stationary of George Bush. The contents of the letter were read on television.
I cannot single out the greatest challenge in my life. I have had a lot of challenges and my advice to young people might be as follows
- Don’t get down when your life takes a bad turn. Out of adversity comes challenge and often success.
- Don’t blame others for your setbacks.
- When things go well, always give credit to others.
- Don’t talk all the time – Listen to your friends and mentors and learn from them.
- Don’t brag about yourself. Let others point out your virtues, your strong points.
- Give someone else a hand. When a friend is hurting show that friend you care.
- Nobody likes an overbearing big shot.
- As you succeed be kind to people. Thank those who help you along the way.
- Don’t be afraid to shed a tear when your heart is broken because a friend is hurting.
- Say your prayers!!
Regardless of whether you’re young or old, in business, sports, politics, academia, these are amazing words recommending how to live one’s life.
In the highly charged political environment we live in today we see a growing division regarding differing ideas and views. I’m sure you’ve seen how new ideas or viewpoints offered by some aren’t really appreciated, acknowledged or even allowed when they differ (e.g. Kanye West / @KanyeWest) from what’s expected. There seems to be no room to find a middle ground any more; we’ve lost the ability to have civil and open debate of ideas. When you turn on cable news, read Twitter feeds and even when you have conversations with friends and relatives about countless topics, today’s vitriol has become pervasive. If you aren’t in lockstep with others you’re often castigated, ridiculed and left on the outside looking in. A form of groupthink. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines groupthink as,
“a pattern of thought characterized by self-deception, forced manufacture of consent, and conformity to group values and ethics”
Historically in business most companies operated in a groupthink mode. Autocratic, dictatorial company owners or management with no interest in opposing views or new ideas. Perhaps you worked for a company like this during your career or maybe work for a company today that stifles new ideas? That style may have worked once upon a time, but not in today’s business environment.
Over a 10-year span beginning in 1990 I had the great fortune to work with a small, boutique consulting firm based in California while I was an executive at Belron International Ltd. Everyone I worked with at the consulting firm, from the principal to all the associates, brought tremendous value to company meetings they attended or facilitated. With their help teams openly discussed issues the business was facing, and we were encouraged to fully consider and debate all ideas to find the best way forward. The firm espoused that there were “No Bad Ideas (NBI)”. Out-of-the-box thinking. A key to using NBI is that it cultivated the opportunity for all participants to feel comfortable suggesting highly creative or unconventional ideas without the chance of being mocked by peers. When you remove the fear of being ridiculed for what might be viewed as a controversial idea in a meeting, you unlock infinite opportunities and options. It’s amazing to see what can be accomplished in an NBI environment. The firm provided tremendous value to me, as well as the companies I was responsible for managing.
While working at the company the Chairman, as well as the President/CEO of the organization (at that time) were both key influencers in my career. They used a similar concept to NBI in meetings. Everyone was encouraged to raise contrarian viewpoints to ensure that as many ideas as possible were raised and considered. When offering a contrarian or unconventional idea during meetings we were told to start with “I’m just practicing, but what if……”
Participants could raise ideas without fear, regardless of how outrageous the ideas may have been viewed, as all participants in the discussion were “just practicing”. The outcomes of meetings where we used just practicing always provided better options or alternatives to determine the best path forward for the company.
I’ve used NBI and just practicing with great success for almost 30 years in other organizations. I suggest leaders embrace NBI and just practicing within your teams to maximize opportunities for success. Respectful listening and learning never ends and any organization could benefit from using these techniques.
p.s. Today, all of those with whom I worked with at that consulting firm have gone their separate ways and each have had and continue to have amazing individual careers. So, thank you, Selwyn, John, David, Jim and Brian for NBI, along with the support you all provided. Thank you to Ronnie and John for just practicing.