Let’s first get a clear understanding of this commonly used word. Simply put creativity is thinking about new avenues and new possibilities. It is thinking out of the box. Contrary to what we may believe creativity does not come out of the blue. It is the deliberate working of the right brain which transcends logic which in turn churns out new ideas to solve old problems. All innovation is possible only when creativity is invoked.
It is often heard that creativity is original thinking and that it is the brain child of a ‘genius’ who has used his imagination to create something new. Creativity in fact, is the art of generating new possibilities and new ways to do things.
The following are the 7 steps which are helpful in understanding and promoting creativity. Subsequently Innovation is the ability to give shape to a creative idea in order to achieve a desired result.
- Firstly a manager must identify the problem for which he/she is finding a creative solution. It’s a good idea to lay down the details as to why the problem exists and persists. The need to find a solution also should be articulated. The manager also needs to clarify his vision of the solution.
- Once the vision is clear and the problem stated, all the possibilities need to be laid out. Any problem can have many facets. The same can be resolved in various ways. The best thing would be to note down all the possible solutions.
- Next, a strategic alternative needs to be created. The third step is to work out the strategy to achieve the desired results on the aforesaid alternatives. This exercise will bring to light the difficulties for each alternative. These have to be carefully examined to find out which ones are most suitable.
- The most suitable alternatives need to be contemplated carefully. The difficulties involved in resolving the issues should be noted down. What would the tentative procedure be to remedy these difficulties may also put down? At this stage one may select the best alternative.
- The 5th step for nurturing creativity is to find out break through projects. In this step we have to work in detail the plan of action for achieving the objective. The entire structure of the project needs to be created. Meticulous examination of the steps and the structure will guide us on how to proceed. The plan must be executed closely and effectively. Execution is very important. It needs to be remembered that an excellent implementation of a reasonably good plan is better than reasonably good execution of an excellent plan. Thus no doubt the plan is important the feasibility and the correct execution are even more important.
- Work out and write down all the details that may be required while implementing the plan. Creativity teaches us to be always proactive. It is therefore reckoned as deep thinking on every small detail. In the process sometimes new ideas come faster and other times they will not. In either case creativity is at work.
- The process of creative thinking should continue. It should become a part of the culture of the organization. Creative work climate requires:
- A manager should not hesitate to implement feasible looking ideas.
- Failure should be treated not as failures as this may actually show that people are actually trying and applying their mind.
- Every failure concludes with a lesson. This lesson must be learned and the learning should be imbibed. And the process of creativity in the organization must go on.
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Setting your goals defines significance of your life. Your self-esteem will go up surely if you passionately try to follow your goals. There are 7 different types of goals which need to be defined. It is not about money or career only. I am listening below the 7 different types of goals which may be clearly defined and written. These are:
1. Health Goals: Health is of prime importance, indeed. Yet many times it has been found that even common principles of maintaining good health are ignored. As per our scriptures a human is made to live about 100 year. When we look after our health properly we may live close to that age or even overstep it. But if one is not careful, life may shorten to any extent. If you love your life and want to live longer, set your health goals. Also prepare and follow the plan to lead a healthy life.
2. Career Goals: Career goals are undoubtedly extremely important. Any educated individual would like to progress in the career he/she is pursuing. But often it is only a wish. The best thing to do is to write down specifically what you want to achieve. This may mean – define the position and also define the timeline.
3. Financial Goals: Though finance and career are closely connected, yet it is necessary to specify separately your financial goals. Again, these should be time bound according to your needs, your family requirements and your social obligations. If necessary, consult a financial adviser and then carve out your own plan.
4. Family Goals: We all want to lead a happy family life- within our own nuclear family, extended family and relatives. Even today there are examples of joint families living together happily. Maintaining good relations require you to be proficient in interpersonal skills. It’s necessary to use discretion in speech even with your spouse, children, parents etc. Not only the words but the way how you speak is important. When you have set your goals you have greater chances to keep on improving in this direction.
5. Social Goals: Everyone would like to be a respected member of the society. Whether it is neighborhood or a club, or an association, you would like to build up your reputation. This can be achieved with necessary efforts provided you have stated your specific goals.
6. Hobby Goals: It is recommended that everyone must pursue at least one hobby. It’s investing in an activity for your own self. Music, theater, dance, painting is example of common hobbies. But it could also be collecting stamps, artifacts, antiques etc. Just as per your fancy, follow a hobby.
7. Spiritual Goals: last but not the least; one should define the spiritual goals. We all know that we don’t have to live on this earth forever. During stay here often we may think about how we like to be remembered. Think about how we should face the eternal force of which know very little. That is why people follow their own religion, which should be a united force. Religion helps to maintain our peace of mind. So we must note down our specific spiritual goals.
All the above goals are meaningless unless we write these down, make a plan to pursue each goal and execute that plan. The goals may be reviewed and modified as per the requirements of changing times.
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Speech was never as important as it is now. Today, it’s necessary that business leaders must be able to speak clearly and effectively. There are a number of speech blemishes which cause embarrassment while making presentations. Sometimes an executive in an important conversation finds himself/herself less than ‘up to the mark’. This is best avoided. I list below 7 of the blemishes which need to be addressed.
- Lack of clarity in speech: Often times we find that the speech of a person is not as articulate as it should be. Sometime they speak too fast; sometimes they mumble some words in a sentence. Though overall message is communicated but listener finds it’s difficult to assimilate. Each and every word, therefore, should be spoken clearly. The problem arises due to improper/inadequate use of speech organs. While the sound is produced by the vocal cord, the words are created by the speech organs.
- Inability to hold the attention of the listener: If the speaker does not modulate the voice, it is difficult to hold the attention of the listener. Modulation is the speaker’s ability to bring in variance in pace, pause, pitch, emphasis on the keyword and the tone. This can be corrected with the help of appropriate speech exercises.
- Use of filler words: At times, one finds that the speaker repetitively uses filler words which are: ‘like’, ‘you know’, ‘actually’, ‘basically’ etc. The filler words could also be just sounds uh…uh……and uh…. plus other such fillers. Since they are used as a matter of habit, so it requires focused attention to bring in change of such habit.
- Improper breathing: It is breath which creates the sound. We have to have sufficient amount of breath in our lungs. This requires practice of deep breathing. The best practice is to take breath at the time when you pause, and consciously, until it is a part of your speech habit.
- Improper pause: Pause if not taken at a right spot mitigates the efficacy of the speech. Pause must be taken at the end of a clause or at the end of the sentence. It should not happen that we have to take a pause because of the lack of breath.
- Body language: The speaker must be aware and maintain proper body language. Business etiquettes demand that he/she must maintain just right kind of eye contact- neither more nor less. It helps in bringing about a rapport between the speaker and the listener.
- Last but not the least; I must talk about the stage fright. Even experienced speakers suffer from stage fright, primarily due to the speech blemishes detailed above. Further, stage fright also inflicts the speaker due to lack of preparation and not understanding the needs and the profile of the audience.
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Whenever we go for an important negotiation, it is critical to be adequately cautious. In this regards there are 6 possible snares which we must take care of:
- Never underestimate the opponent’s ability. We do not know how much armour the opponent has gathered before coming to negotiating table. Besides, he/she could have consulted highly proficient professionals and come prepared.
- Preparing for what to speak is not enough. You must decide and practice how to speak, particularly maintaining your tone. More than that; prepare yourself to listen. Make a strategy to make the opponent talk. It is necessary to find out the real intent. Recognize the intent.
- Not following the tried and tested principal, ‘first understand and then be understood’ must be avoided. So at the negotiating table the first thing we must do is to listen. Let the opponent put forth all the demands.
- We must list out the demands of the opponent that we may concede. Being stubborn will only break the negotiation. It’s a loose/loose situation which needs to be negated. First talk of lesser concessions and offer the ace for which the opponent is most keen at the end.
- Be prepared that the negotiation may not bring about the desired result. So never give more information than what is necessary.
- In the instance of not coming to a conclusion create a space for the next meeting. Failure should never be considered as final. Then prepare for the next meeting at the agreed time with all that transpired carefully assimilated.
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Email happens to be the most used (at times abused) form of business communication. The importance of email, thus, should not be undermined. However, it is necessary to observe business email etiquette. Following 7 rules need to be taken care of:
Rule No. 1:
Think of all the options before deciding to send an email. Today, we have many other options like text messaging, WhatsApp, Instagram, chatroom etc. Choose the one which is most appropriate for the subject and for the receiver whom you want to contact. Remember email is a commitment.
Rule No. 2:
At times, you may be sending a venerable message. Whenever some kind of conflicting statements are made, it is necessary to be careful, very careful. In such instances, you may find it useful to print the message before sending. A hard copy can be easily examined for correctness of language syntax etc. But when you read on a computer, you may not be all that meticulous. Besides, you will have a permanent record. Who knows, you may need the record in the event the conflict escalates.
Rule No. 3:
Whenever you send an important email, it’s necessary to read it more than once. You may improve the language. You may like to modify the thought to make it more intelligible, logical & convincing. It may require extra effort. But when the message you are sending is of critical importance, extra effort is justified. After all, such critical communications are not handled on daily basis.
Rule No. 4:
Always maintain an address book. Never delete names. You never know when you need the same. But maintain the address book most efficiently. For personally known contacts, always start the name using surname first. For others business contacts you may like to form some groups. Vendors could be in one group. Clients could be in another. Further, these can be assigned subgroup names. It could be industry wise or importance wise. As per the needs of your particular organization and your role, planning needs to be done.
Rule No. 5:
In business, in spite of best efforts it’s difficult to maintain equanimity. But never send an email when you are not a good mood. Something may have happened and you may be upset. This is certainly not the right time to send an email. Further, even when you are exhausted, don’t send an email. An email is a spontaneous expression of your thought and mind. Your exhaustion could peep through the mail when the receiver reads it.
Rule No. 6:
Don’t ever cut short the business process to make it simple. When the occasion demands that you must have a face to face meeting: go for that. An effort to make it more convenient may obliterate and negate the very cause of the meeting. An email is never a replacement of a personal contact.
Rule No. 7:
Last but not the least, always keep in mind and reflect on the hierarchy of business contacts. Meeting comes first. So, when you need to convince and influence someone, you may require meeting. Yet, you cannot always meet even though it may be important business. Then, use the telephone. Have a smile on the face. Go through the contents of your call based on your objectives, and call. Don’t hurry to pick up the phone. Third in line is voice mail. Though it is not interactive, yet it has some degree of personal touch. When all the aforesaid three are not possible or not required, use email and sure remember to follow the first 6 rules.
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Let’s examine four possible combinations of speaking & listening. This will enable us to understand what communication can do to our lives and to our organizations.
Possibility 1. Effective speaking but poor listening. If this is the leader’s characteristics the results could be as under:
It will increase your focus. You may have generated good followers & good soldiers. But the potential leaders will leave. There will be practically no innovation. Stress level will increase.
Possibility 2. Effective speaking and active listening. That is the perfect combination for the leader. The focus of the leader and of the organization will remain in the forefront. Things will happen fast. Loyalty of employees will increase. Appreciation of mind and ability to enjoy the work will bring in more breakthroughs, more innovations. People will collaborate with each other and also compete with each other. The best will blossom with the leader’s effective speech and active listening. An atmosphere of sustainable leadership will prevail.
Possibility 3: Poor speaking but active listening. It will amount to lack of focus. Also, waste of time & money. There will be thrust on management by committees. People might get an impression that anything goes.
Meanwhile active listening will also result in the positives. The employees will become more self-expressed. Application of mind by them will increase. There would be greater innovation.
Possibility 4: Poor speaking and poor listening. It will be nothing but a slow death of the enterprise. The death of textile mills in Mumbai & Ahmadabad can be attributed to this syndrome. Misunderstanding and conflicts will rule. Opportunities will be missed. There would be high rate of attrition. Isolation will result in fragmentation, and finally extinction.
Just perusing the above possibilities would shake our slumber. Importance of communication will then be fully realized. So, I will deal with both aspect of communication- good speaking and good listening.
First of all it is necessary to have strong content. Content is the king. Effective communications take this into account more than any other aspect of management or even life. Content means domain knowledge. You can’t fool people with shallow thoughts. Much less you can impress them. Lot of hard work goes into acquiring knowledge. The biggest problem is seen when you have worthwhile knowledge but you can’t use into your advantage due to lack of effective speech. Your expression remains impaired. People would barely know that you are a storehouse of useful information.
Then what should you do? Become a good speaker. Practice the art and science of speaking clearly, confidently and convincingly.
How do you speak clearly? You must understand that speech in the result of decision to communicate. First thinking clarifies the idea you want to project to the listener or a group of listeners. Then brain sends a signal to the lungs and some breath is released. Breath strikes the vocal cord to produce sound. But the words are created by the speech organs. So in order to speak clearly, think clearly. Cultivate habit of deep breathing. It enables to have sufficient breath to support strength of your voice. This will also enable you to speak longer sentence without breathing in between. The flow of speech will enable ideas to flow smoothly.
Communication does not mean only effective speaking. In fact, it is the beginning point. But even more important is active listening. Active listening will bring about the results that you are looking for. You communicate with someone or a group of listeners with an objective. How can you influence others? By listening to them actively or with your speech. How do you find whether you are a good listener or not? I give below a checklist which is self- expletory.
- Don’t think of what you are going to say next when another person is speaking. Just focus on understanding and assimilating what he/she has to say.
- You must listen with an open mind. Don’t try to relate with your own experience, similar experience. When someone is relating a story in support of his argument, your tendency to evaluate should be given a pause. Never be judgmental, as they say.
- When you are listening, try to recreate mentally what the other person is saying objectively.
- Try to see things from the speaker’s point of view. Empathize and be compassionate while listening.
- Try to uncover the intent of the speaker. All speakers may not be terse. Their verbosity may require a little extra effort on your part to understand the intent. Make this extra effort.
- Think what results you can produce through listening rather than speaking. If you want to influence people, you will be amazed to observe how listening comes in handy and helpful.
- Listen a minute longer than it is comfortable. That extra minute will give you extra input. In any case, you are having a dialogue for understanding the other’s point of view.
- Last but not the least; you must remember that your words of advice will be seen as unwanted noise. Never give an advice unless asked for. If you are not convinced and the solution demands that you must express your views, do that and say we agree to disagree!
Thanks for reading.
Life is a continuous interplay of problems and solutions. Every day comes with some kind of problems small, medium or large. It is our job to find a solution and resolve the same with our required action. Not finding a solution or alternative solutions is the biggest problem which needs to be avoided in any case. “It is said that every challenge offers new opportunities. No doubt it does. Then how is it that we are afraid of challenges. Two reasons. Our negative attitude and lack of courage. Then what should we do? How do we change? How should we develop a positive attitude? Certainly there is no quick fix. But the reward of bringing about this change i.e. from negative attitude to cultivating positive one, very well deserves, the efforts that we have to put in. And what are these efforts? How do we go about it? Chisel this change with following measures:
- Look for rose flower not the thorns. No doubt the rose plant is full of thorns. If you are afraid about the thorns you may never reach the rose. So focus only on the rose. Be careful about the thorns and get the rose. Rose is your reward. In fact that’s what you want- the rose. But the plant is full of problems. These are challenges. Don’t be scared about challenges and with careful efforts you will surely secure your results.
- Procrastination is the bane of life. It doesn’t allow you to go ahead and take action. Procrastination pushes you into laziness and a maze of indecisive thinking. It is the worst enemy of positive attitude. So defeat it. Always believe in ‘doing it now!”
- Anyone has the strengths and weaknesses. Rely on your strengths. Leverage these for productive work. Leverage these for overcoming your weaknesses. Identify the weaknesses and do all what it takes to overcome these. It will raise your self-esteem. It will develop your positive attitude.
- Banish these four negative emotions that ruin your efforts to develop a positive attitude. These are: Indecision, Suspicious, Greed and Credulity. Actually each one of these emotions becomes the reason for tragedy of Shakespearean Heroes as under.
- Hamlet was indecisive.
- Othello was an embodiment or suspicious.
- Macbeth moves to the tragic end because of unending Greed.
- King Lear suffered because of credulity. Being credulity leads to people hoodwinking you. This leads to disillusionment & suffering. In turn, it makes you a negative thinker.
- Breed Positive Assumptions about people and about situations. Often times, we do not reach out to people for help because we are afraid of rejection. Never be afraid of rejection. Even if it happens, take it in its stride. Often, you will be surprised that those very people regarding whom you harbored negative assumptions are happy to help you. I read a book which in the preface talked about success- Eleven important principles of success and what are these? Ask, Ask, Ask………..11 times.
- Marry the spouse whom you love. Otherwise start loving earnestly whom you marry. Our likes and dislikes are not writings on the wall. They keep on changing like anything else. So you can start loving your job and you must. It will make your attitude positive.
- Last but not the least. Avoid negative influences. Don’t have company of negative people, don’t read negative literature and don’t watch negative movies. All pleasure seekers end in pain. Those who lure you to undesirable stuff don’t deserve your attention or regard.
Thanks for reading.