2012 Management Improvement Carnival – Part 2

doug-jan-e(Image Credit: Doug Buckley of http://hyperactive.to)

I am pleased once again to host ASQ Influential Voices blogger John Hunter’s Management Improvement Carnivalfeaturing some interesting or noteworthy articles that have been posted over the past year. Be sure to check out previous installations of the Carnival to get a broad sample of the most recent blog posts that are relevant to managers who are interested in quality, innovation and process improvement.

This post covers the final two of four blogs that I reviewed for the Management Improvement Carnival: Design Thinking (Thoughts by Tim Brown), and Business901 by Joe Dager (who I also follow on Twitter at @business901).

(In Part 1, I reviewed 2012 posts in StatsMadeEasy and the Harvard Business Review’s (HBR) collection of insights from Peter Bregman.)

Any student of innovation is bound to be familiar with IDEO, a design firm that has a long history of uniting the power of the creative culture with practical, tangible results. IDEO’s President, Tim Brown, blogs at http://designthinking.ideo.com. In addition to sharing their creative prototypes online, IDEO has also produced a Human-Centered Design Toolkit which can help nonprofits and community agencies apply design thinking to innovate in their domains. It’s a powerhouse of a company with a long-lived reputation for pushing the limits when it comes to thinking about innovation.

In “Does the Media Have a Negative Effect on Innovation?” Tim asks whether news media’s focus on the risks of certain technologies and new developments might blind us to potentially positive – and breakthrough – innovations related to those technologies. He encourages positive storytelling as a means of stimulating innovation, and challenges us to embark on “optimistic and helpful journalism” when we share technical stories. These, he suggests, will encourage even greater innovation.

In October, Tim shared the secret phrase all innovators use… and it’s rather simple and straightforward! Since reading this post last year, I’ve tried his approach when I’m presented with challenging situations… even those in my own life, where I’m required to find creative solutions to time management issues all my own. It’s been a valuable technique… I encourage you to find out what it is – and try it!

I was really inspired by the November post on Creative Confidence. In addition to having great ideas, you have to connect with your stakeholders in an authentic, emotional way – and not be afraid to really follow through, even when you’re opposed in one way or another. He links to a TED talk where you can hear more about his idea, and summarizes what creative thinking means to him:

“Creative thinking in business begins with having empathy for your customers (whether they’re internal or external), and you can’t get that sitting behind a desk.”

In the quality world, we’re used to seeing how concepts from the visual factory can be quickly and easily applied to generate high value. In “Make it Visual,” Tim supports this idea, but notes that it can be just as straightforwardly applied to idea generation as to operations. He encourages us to try, for a week, to “record observations and ideas visually” to bring abstract ideas into being. This is definitely an experiment I’m planning for sometime in 2013.

Last but definitely not least is Joe Dager‘s Business901 blog. I follow Joe on Twitter – and his feed is always buzzing with cool thoughts and ideas that keep me on my feet. Along with Saul Kaplan and Valdis Krebs’ OrgNet, it’s one of my favorite ways to keep up with ideas and insights that will help me understand innovation in greater depth. Joe is one of my primary sources for figuring out which cool TED talk to watch next.

In February, Joe introduced me to Appreciative Inquiry… which I had never heard of before. This approach to organizational development, which emerged from knowledge management research in the 1990’s, seeks to integrate positive thinking (and thus positive psychology in general) into the design and management of organizations. Quality researchers, take note of Appreciative Inquiry!! In my January 2013 article in the Quality Management Journal, my analysis of QMJ research indicates that integrating positive psychology into quality management is a gap that we must all seek to fill.

As a fan of Jane McGonigal, I’m also interested in Joe’s posts on how gaming can enhance various aspects of business and quality management. He introduces us in one post to Dave Gray’s Gamestorming technique, which I’d like to try. In another post, “How Gaming Teaches You to Plan,” he suggests that games provide excellent training for navigating your way through messy (real-life) situations, where your ability to change and adapt can be paramount to survival:

Understanding when to deviate from your plan through adjusting or even discarding it entirely can be learned and simulated through gaming.

I also think Joe and I are similarly oriented in our thinking in many ways… so many of his articles truly resonate with me. For example, I strongly support Deming’s notion that the underlying purpose of the 14 Points is to help people be able to work with joy… and articles like April’s “The Show Business Side of Service Design” seem to present the same encouragement. In this post, he summarizes his podcast with Adam Lawrence of Work Play Experience, who asserts that service design is theatrical… and thus should be fun. When asked by Joe whether that means all interactions should be scripted (a common practice in service scenarios to ensure consistency) Adam responded that each person must interpret those words in their own way… and that improvisation centered around the core message is, of course, not excluded. I’d never considered service occupations to require a dramatic flair… but many of them do, and indeed, leveraging this as a feature of those kind of jobs could make the work environment more fun.

Joe’s got tons of great posts, and a frequent update schedule. Follow him on Twitter to get real-time updates about when new articles are posted.

That’s it for my contribution to this year’s Management Improvement Carnival. See you next year!


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