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Foresight "Group Genius" Weekend


Leaping the Abyss:

Putting Group Genius to Work


Chapter Four

Exploring New Terrain...

 

All participants and staff are gathered in the radiant room, the largest space in the DesignShop environment, for the opening event. After a welcome from Wharton professor Jerry Wind, facilitators Matt and Gail Taylor give a whirlwind introduction to what is coming up, including:

  • goals for the event, both for the overall group and for the individual organizations present,
  • uses of models-a topic to be covered extensively throughout the session,
  • resources available (the World Wide Web, library, the entire DesignShop facilitation team),
  • ground rules, including confidentiality, fiduciary responsibility, and participants committing to working together for the full three days,
  • a bare minimum about the schedule, and
  • the underlying structure of what we'll be doing over the next three days: the Scan, Focus, Act sequence.

 

Scan, Focus, Act

In the Scan phase, participants reach out to explore ideas far outside their usual range of expertise. People will expand their usual time horizons, work with complex systems models, and learn rapid information-gathering techniques. They will look at the problem from a whole range of vantage points that they have never visited before. Just as important, everyone will get to know the skills and biases of fellow participants. During Scan, they are encouraged explicitly to avoid trying to draw direct connections with the problem that brought them here.

Only after a thorough Scan do you move into the Focus phase in which you formulate performance specs for the optimal solution to your problem. You are focusing on the problem, but you are also generating options for what that problem really is and, therefore, how it will be solved. These will range from no-risk to absolutely wacky. It's important to come at the problem many different times from many different angles. There is a saying at DesignShops that if you do seven iterations of coming at, looking at, and redesigning your problem, the results will be a thousand times better.

In doing so, the problem definition changes, often beyond recognition, from the one you originally brought with you-a sign that the Scan has been effective. Possible solutions undergo continuous reworking, with ideas that don't "fit" falling away naturally, until the strongest solution strategy is clear.

In Act, strategy is turned into tactics, and tactics into action steps which include target dates of completion. The DesignShop event is not over until there is an action plan in hand.

Scan is the longest phase, with Focus taking less time, and Act happening very quickly at the end-exactly the opposite of what normally happens back at the office. Normal procedure for just about everyone is to skip the Scan, zip through Focus, and spend almost all their effort on Act. The failure of that comfortable but ineffective sequence is what has brought everyone to the DesignShop.

But right now, at Wharton, there's no time to spend analyzing the sequence in advance. It's time to jump right into Scan.

 

Take-a-Panel, Share-a-Panel

Just as athletes and teams warm up before a game, everyone needs to warm up-as individuals and as a cooperating group-to prepare for solving our organization's problem.

A well-planned DesignShop session includes participants who are new to each other that may never meet again. As in the Carl's Jr. example, it can bring together dozens of people ranging from corporate executives to a typical fast-food customer. How can a large, varied group be most quickly brought into sync, performing at the highest possible level to address the key questions that called them together?

In DesignShop sessions, as in sporting events, there will be some time before participants are directly tackling the problem that brings everyone together. First are warm-up exercises having multiple purposes: to stretch mental muscles, learn new information, get to know fellow participants and their skills, strengths, weaknesses, and biases, and develop new skills in collaboration and cooperation. This will happen quickly.

In a typical DesignShop, the first exercise-called Take-a-Panel-starts with questions which may range from provocative to very basic, such as "What do you want to get out of this DesignShop?" The questions act as a mental warm-up for each individual. Each person takes a large, writable wall panel and begins posting his or her responses to the specific questions assigned.

Why start this way? Why not have the groups just discuss the questions, with each person taking a turn, and someone serving as moderator?

The pragmatic answer-this kick-starting exercise has evolved over years, and it works. The longer answer requires analyzing human interaction patterns. In any sizable collection of people, some are extroverts, others shy, some articulate, others are not. Even in casual clothes, the "leaders" often stand out. Every move they make gives them away; their very tone of voice establishes their position within the group. If everyone is just thrown into a small group, all the standard patterns of interaction automatically kick in-the leader leads, the followers follow, the extroverts talk, the shy ones sit there nervously.

Is "being led" what everyone is here for? If the leaders had all the answers, nobody would need to be here to work on their organization's big challenge-you could just do as you're told, implementing the leaders' plan. Instead, the goal is to tap into everyone's skills and knowledge. In order to encourage this participation, it is wise to avoid triggering the status-related reactions that lead people to self-censor.

Instead of starting by sitting around, looking at, and judging each other, participants immediately start working individually on a problem: contributing, thinking, writing, moving. All are busy at their own panels-no one is watching- you can be as fast, slow, sure, or tentative as you want. There is a lot of room to write and draw, and mistakes are erasable. Over the next twenty minutes, a sense of momentum builds as ideas begin to flow onto the panels.

It is now time to share the results in an exercise called "Share-a-Panel." Participants divide into groups of about five-not randomly. The groups have been selected with care to provide diversity among the participants-different professions, different ages, and backgrounds, with as much mixing as possible.

But does everyone sit down and have each person present his or her work to the group for critiquing? No, this would break momentum. We're on a roll here and the last thing we need to do is revert to a standard meeting format where, once again, the usual leaders take over and everyone else shuts up, feeling dumb or dominated. Gail Taylor explains how the next part works:

Now the participants search out each member of their small group and present their panels to each other, on a one-to-one basis. It's loud, lively, and chaotic: everyone is hunting for the people they've missed, introducing themselves, explaining their viewpoints, what their business is about, their challenges and desires - the focus is on the panels, with the explainer pointing to items there and the listener reading them.

It helps that what's being explained is now an external object-words on the wall-rather than a stand-alone verbal assertion. Again, as for the "Take-a-Panel" exercise, this is a clever mechanism: a technique to help us, as evolved primates, suppress our bad habits and nervousness and augment our intellects.

Is this mechanism a key insight of amazing power? No, it's a relatively small thing. The reason that DesignShops work so well is not that they implement one major insight; instead, they incorporate a large number of strategies, tactics, processes, and tricks that combine to give high performance.

Physical movement is another tactic used during both the Take-a-Panel and Share-a-Panel exercises. Getting people up and moving is an eye-opener, and it gets the blood pumping-but what else is going on here? To answer this, consider your own experience. Where do you have your best ideas? For a lot of us, it is places like the shower, not at an office desk staring at the walls or at a computer screen. When you're mentally stalled, do you find it helpful to get up and take a walk? To tap into these poorly-understood benefits, the entire DesignShop process involves as much physical movement as possible-the exact opposite of the stifling, physically boring act of sitting at a desk in a cubicle.

As was explained in the ground rules given during the initial orientation at the start of the DesignShop event, participants have no need to make personal notes to preserve their insights during this (or any other) part of the event. While the participants are discussing their panels with other group members, facilitators are recording their work. By the time the panels need to be erased for reuse, all the information will have been captured.

Only now, after the individual panels have been explained, does the small group assemble and start some analysis. "The next exercise for the groups," explains Gail Taylor, "is to ask, 'Where are our agreements and disagreements? What have we learned as a set of five about our individual beliefs and our group beliefs?'"

Note that, in this account, we have left vague the issue of exactly what these people are working on and what specific questions they are addressing on their panels, other than what their goals are for this meeting. That is deliberate for two reasons: first, it varies for each group, depending on what overall challenge their organization is working with at this DesignShop, and second, it's not critical at this stage that the questions be precisely relevant to the overall challenge. It is so early in the process that the immediate goals are different-getting to know each other, and, just as important, beginning to build a common experience base.

 

Creating a Common Experience

Years of DesignShop experience have shown that giving the participants a common experience is even more important than achieving complete alignment or agreement. From the basis of shared reality, they will build the foundation from which they will ultimately solve their problems.

"Creating a common experience base"? "Basis of shared reality"? These phrases may seem a bit-shall we say-touchy-feely. But shared experience, be it war, creative endeavor, or other life events, forges a strong bond between people and can form the basis of mutual understanding.

The exercises aren't motivated by what feels good to participants. In fact, exactly the opposite sometimes occurs. The value of the common experience holds regardless of whether a given participant enjoys, or even agrees with, the content. Matt Taylor explains:

One of the canons of our work is that we try not to care whether people like the DesignShop process, or even whether they are all in alignment with the outcome. We would prefer that they are, of course, because that is a gentler and kinder experience, but the fact of the DesignShop is that thirty to seventy people all have a relatively common experience with the content of that DesignShop and each other. That is an undeniable fact that can never be taken away. That is now part of their experience base.

Not all experiences are equal, obviously. There is a hierarchy of experience, and so to the degree that the human system is alerted, it will pay attention to some experiences more than others. This event is compressed, exciting, dense; they are in an environment of high alert. So this experience starts to outweigh all those other years of experiences.

If the situation requires even greater intensity, the staff designs a custom experience for a given DesignShop session. This can be extraordinarily powerful, bringing a feuding group to a powerful unity, guaranteeing that everyone present is on high alert, or adding a gut-level sense of realism to an issue that people aren't yet taking seriously enough.

 

Colorful Common Experiences

A series of colorful and memorable common experiences which generated loads of high alert was crafted over a number of years for Agency Group, a division of a complex insurance and financial services company with a diversity of corporate cultures due to a long series of acquisitions. These experiences provide examples of how-in modules structured to teach specific skills such as leadership or networking-the emotional strength of the experience helps anchor all participants into a common outlook.

DesignShops are often envisioned as discrete events, but Agency Group wanted to encourage people to use design process every day, bring "there" to here consistently, and thereby change the culture. They decided to do this by offering workshops in which people could learn about design work as part of a new way of working. The goal here was education, not producing a work product.

Jon Foley, one of several who directed the workshops in cooperation with the company's visionary CEO and COO team, describes a common experience that served as a wake-up call:

Understand where we are: We're in the conference room and our CEO comes over the videotape saying that the message we're about to see is being delivered throughout the organization. The news was that Agency Group had been purchased by Mitsubishi. Our CEO was on his way to the airport to become the president of Mitsubishi America.We would get a new CEO and learn new ways of working.

Imagine what this did to the participants. A lot of them believed, a lot turned white. Many doubted, but suddenly everyone felt there was more significance to this when the staffers handing out packages of information, and a Japanese Gentleman dressed in a business suit walked around quietly accompanied by people dressed up as senior managers. The Japanese Gentleman would make quiet comments from time to time. People were freaking out.

Talk about a powerful common experience. For people who had worked in big organizations all their lives, this was probably the closest they'd ever come to facing what it would mean to have their comfortable jobs change overnight. This was now a group on high alert, a group that had a gut-level reminder that "Our huge, seemingly invulnerable fortress of a company is not invulnerable at all. And evidently our CEO would like us to try to keep that firmly in mind as we tackle the challenge that has brought us together."

In another exercise designed to encourage more leadership initiative by mid-level and high-level managers at the Agency Group, Jon led a team that designed a workshop modeled on an episode from the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. At the time, the company was preparing to divide its unified structure into thirteen smaller business units. Each unit would have its own leadership team. The members of these teams had to wake up to the need to become self-directing, instead of awaiting leadership and direction to flow down to them from the top, as it always had. The danger for the new business units was that their management might not step up to the challenge in time to prevent damage.

In the television story that Jon used as a model, the captain of the Starship Enterprise has been kidnapped by a powerful and technically-advanced enemy-the Borg (cyborgs). By linking the captain into their man/machine mental network, the Borg have complete access to all the captain's knowledge. Everything the captain knows about the Enterprise, the enemy now knows: technical vulnerabilities, assets, battle plans, secrets, top security computer access codes....and all the data contained in those computer files.

Back on the Enterprise, the remaining crew members realize that every bit of their existing knowledge is in the hands of the enemy. All the old plans are worthless. To defeat the Borg, they will need to replace the kidnapped captain with new leadership, create new answers and new fighting tactics that neither the old captain nor the computer know.

So, in the Agency Group exercise,Jon had the CEO similarly abandon the corporate ship taking with him the secrets of the company's future. They could no longer go forward executing someone else's plans; they needed to create their own, new answers. Participants directly experienced-with intensity-the need for them to provide leadership, to create new strategies that would withstand traitorous assault. They felt and internalized insights about responsibility and accountability in new and deeper ways.

The simulation, fraught with the tension that comes from playing for high stakes, was both stressful and useful. Subsequently, many people asked to practice "thinking out of the box" using "real" scenarios more often.

Occasionally, a client will object to this kind of exercise, concerned about the intensity of the simulation. Gail Taylor observes, "In response to similar requests in the past, we have tried leaving out some part, but we don't get the same results." The DesignShop is an evolved procedure, having grown out of hundreds of cycles of design-and-test-and-redesign. We may or may not understand why each part adds to the whole, but it works whether we understand it in detail or not.

Another instance of success using a theatrical-style simulation to provide a common experience to build unity took place at the Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC), a military-affiliated test facility in Tennessee.

 

Burying the Hatchet at AEDC

While AEDC is owned by the Air Force, it is operated by civilian companies working as contractors and subcontractors, with very few military personnel on base. People who work at AEDC-whether military or civilian, management or union worker-are often the second or third generation in their family to do so. Frequently, both spouses work on the base, but that doesn't mean things always proceed smoothly. In this long and complex history of labor relations, there are no secrets. Everyone knows about everything in great and intimate detail.

Family fights are often the most vicious of feuds. One senior manager looked back at a particulary dark period:

There had been a severe strike around Christmas of 1990-an evil battle, and probably unneeded. It had gone into a downward spiral, and it is hard to get out of those.

From the point of view of many people, the bad blood wasn't about any substantive issue. It wasn't about whether you want $1 more or $2 more. Rather than working with each other, people took positions, and soon they couldn't get out of them. Things started going downhill. There was a new contract, but it didn't resolve the situation.

By now the problem was tearing the place apart. Labor and management had been at each other's throats for months. There had even been episodes of slashing tires and trashing offices.

Colonel William (Bill) Rutley, the Commander of AEDC, had a situation that could blow up in his face. He took a chance and decided to bring the two sides together in a three-day DesignShop. He explains:

When we put the union representatives into a DesignShop with the management, we took a severe risk. You do not know exactly what will happen. I told the DesignShop staff that they were in this to try to drive a change. You can't drive a change and still be careful in this situation. You really have to put them into a room and start sucking the air out until that change happens. But I am convinced that organizations don't change unless you show them the abyss.

It was decided in advance that although he was the sponsor, Col. Rutley would stay out of the DesignShop event, letting the two sides interact without his mediation. On the front lines of the management side was John Poparad, who explains that-as in every DesignShop-the group doesn't start out confronting difficult issues immediately:

This was my first exposure to the DesignShop process. We did not start with the union/management relationship. We started working with the focus on AEDC. As the facilitator, Matt centered everyone on two essential tasks: Can we get everyone to build on a basic vision of the future for AEDC and then choose those parts that we can get everyone to agree on and start to implement them. Within that vision, what roles would people play? Now you have a vested interest in the success of AEDC because you are part of it and have helped to create it. It is a part of you.

To say that you "sign up for the big picture," or "have a common vision"-those words aren't good enough. Everyone works on modeling the organization. If Matt could get the warring sides to buy into the same model of AEDC, then they could work together.

Late in the second day, several people report, a moment of transformation occurred between the labor leader and the leader from management, with the rest of the participants looking on. The confrontation was heated. The labor leader demanded acknowledgment that labor had been put into a corner.

The management leader began moving toward the moment of clarity. He acknowledged, yes, labor had been boxed in, and he promised, he would never put labor in that position again. The room was quiet, awaiting the response from the labor leader. One attendee's memory of what the labor leader said: "Then we'll never need to strike again."

The room stayed silent. A facilitator recounts:

I don't know if anyone knew what had just happened! Or maybe they were all silent because they did understand: from that moment on, nothing was going to be as it had been.

ColonelRutley, though staying away deliberately, was monitoring the process:

For the first couple of days of the event, the DesignShop staff would come up at night and tell me what was going on. I kept telling them they were in this to try to drive a change. After a couple of days, one of the facilitators said that this would break in the right direction tomorrow morning. They thought I should be there.

At 8 PM that evening, the staff members brainstormed on how to provide the right experience for the group in order to emotionally internalize the intellectual change that had been achieved. They had noted that participants had kept saying "we have to bury the hatchet," but didn't know how to get past the strong feelings and achieve closure. The inspiration struck to actually transform the symbolism of those words into action: "Let's do it! Let's actually bury the hatchet!"

Between 8:00 that evening and 8:00 the next morning, there was a massive amount of work to be done as they pulled together a complete set of funeral plans. The deceased hatchet would repose in a hand-crafted coffin: Frances Gillard, an AEDCer facilitating her first Design Shop, roped her husband into spending the night in his home woodworking shop building a coffin crafted to the hatchet's precise specifications. Black robes, veils, and other clothes had to be found for the hatchet's "wailing widow" and the knowledge workers who would act as mourners. They rounded up a car to act as a hearse, chose a burial site, got the death certificate drawn up, and got the death march music orchestrated. Then, the Grim Reaper made the rounds, and paid a visit to all to announce the death.

The next morning's session began with funeral music. The veiled widow and other mourners robed in black carried candles in a mournful procession.

John Poparad, a member of a contractor's management team, describes how it happened and the impact on the management/labor feud:

On the third day I was sitting next to Barry, the union president, when the knowledge workers came in with a coffin. Inside the coffin was a hatchet.

A "minister" delivered the eulogy talking about the relationship that had just died. A funeral service, rich in opportunity for mourning, eulogy, burying the past, and establishing hope for the future followed.

Some people had been saying "we've got to bury the hatchet," and here it was. Barry looked at me and I looked at him. Certain people on both the union and management sides wanted a healing as well as a contractual resolution, and Barry was one of them. He said very quietly to me, "Some people are going to hang me if I do this." I said, "I'll do it if you'll do it." We both stood up together and went to the coffin.

The lid of the coffin was rimmed by exactly as many holes as there were workshop participants. Every single person would have to drive a nail home if the coffin and the dispute were to be sealed. John continues:

Barry and I drove the first nails. Barry and I and all the attendees nailed it shut.We put it in a station wagon with the trunk open as a hearse. We followed it to a grave site and actually buried it. We went through a ceremony of literally burying the hatchet. If you come to the site, we can show you where we buried it. Some archeologist will go crazy when he finds it. But this was the commitment to stop this fighting.

It worked extremely well. Col. Rutley summarized the scenario.

Attitudes did a 180-degree turn. The strike had been months before. Now, they settled the next contract six months ahead of schedule.

Before the DesignShop, the union and management guys had been doing traditional things and were going to hurt each other. I had to use the process for transformation, for cultural change. It seems to work very, very well. It was an incredible change. I had not intended that. I was trying to solve a very specific problem. I did not know any other way than to throw them in there together and make them stare at the damn abyss and figure out where they were going.

I still cannot believe it, but that one event has changed AEDC forever.

We'll be hearing a lot more about AEDC's subsequent achievements later.

The "Burying the Hatchet" exercise worked as a common experience. It sent a clear message, both to those present and to those who heard about it later, that a total commitment had been made to end the conflict. But-as John Poparad explained-before this symbolic exercise was possible, much work had to be done first at the DesignShop. Specifically, the group needed to work collaboratively on their joint vision of AEDC. Only when a high degree of common ground had been established was it possible to move forward.

Working collaboratively is not common practice in most organizations-it is still mostly command-and-control, very top-down.

At a DesignShop, people come together for a short time to take on a major challenge for their organization. They need to work, to collaborate, at their highest capacity, taking advantage of the skills and knowledge of everyone present. If you don't operate this way routinely back at the office, how can the process cause everyone to start collaborating quickly, even those who've never worked this way before? These non-collaborators can be pretty hard-core-for example, many managers just don't operate that way. Many managers think they collaborate well, but often do not collaborate well when working with subordinates. Unfortunately, no one who works under them has the guts to tell them. The higher the manager is in the corporate pyramid, the more likely this is to be true.

The DesignShop process is literally that-- a design process. People who attend come from many walks of life and expect to work in radically different ways. Getting them to change their way of working, their way of thinking-even for the short time it takes to do a DesignShop-isn't easy. Matt explains that many people have been specially trained in processes other than collaboration.

Lawyers learn a process-largely an adversarial process. An adversarial process is very good at arriving at truths or understanding of some kinds but not of other kinds. Scientists learn the scientific process, which in its strictest sense, is very good at arriving at certain kinds of information and truth. In organizations, specialists use these different processes at different skill levels, but few of them have any awareness of what processes they're using.

A design process is different yet again. At a DesignShop event, we have a problem to solve that is inherently so complex we have to bring people together from many different fields, different .i.ntage points;vantage points and life experiences, because it is simply impossible to have enough knowledge present otherwise. Suppose you somehow did solve it solo, you would not have the solution resulting from their interaction. Even if you somehow have that, you wouldn't have the buy-in-the approval from key players-once you have the solution.

So you have to bring these people together. They come in with different sets of assumptions and with different languages-literally, the same words can mean different things to them. But most important, they come in with different deeply embedded mental process structures that most of them are totally unaware that they have.

A person's own embedded deep process is often the most sensitive thing that they own, and the thing they will fight most about, usually without doing so explicitly. In a sense you are talking about their mind-their survival tool-and if you want to challenge someone on the level of their deeply embedded process, you are going to have an argument on your hands. It is an extremely sensitive subject.

At a DesignShop event, time is at a premium. A large and talented group of employees and other stakeholders has gathered from far and wide-this is costing real money. Given the wide gaps in assumptions, languages, and embedded mental processes, how do you generate a fast way of learning new styles of working and using new types of embedded processes? Here's a story about achieving rapid learning through:

  • managing information,
  • discovering what the work really is about,
  • using networks instead of relying on the familiar role of doing an assigned task for a supervisor ,
  • dealing effectively with emerging systems, rather than a static situation in which all the work is neatly defined up front.

At Agency Group, Jon Foley and his team, together with the MG Taylor team, created exercises to accomplish this by deliberately increasing (1) the complexity of the assigned task, (2) the richness of the information environment, and (3) the speed of change, until the group is thrown into chaos-and figures out how to operate in new ways. Jon described an exercise held during the Minding Our Business DesignShop.

We had about forty people broken into teams working on various related assignments. One team-we'll call them the "InfoBroker team"-was the only team to get a copy of every team's task. The InfoBroker team's assignment is to design the infrastructure-How will the overall system work? How will tasks be assigned? How will people communicate?

At the beginning, the InfoBroker team spent some time trying to organize the initial work. They assume they have all day, so what's the rush? Then I start dropping by with extra assignments. At first, they don't know what to do with these. I come back again and again, and give them another two or three assignments.

Within an hour and a half, I've given them another ten assignments that they have to get distributed and done. At this point, some InfoBroker members get angry or walk out. Some start to break down the team barriers and pull people out of other teams. They just grab a person who can do a particular task-an individual assignment. It's all disconnected; it's chaotic. Tasks are getting done, but they aren't taking into account the whole system. Sometimes people on the InfoBroker team would break out and try running the other teams.

There were times when the InfoBroker team thought they were responsible for completing all ten or eleven assignments, without help from the other teams. Some of the more senior executives on the InfoBroker team were so good at managing the details that it took a huge information-and-task flow to reach their limits. My objective as a facilitator is to get them to the point where they realize they're in trouble; traditional processes of managing information are no longer working.

Most managers have lots of experience in directing others in their work, seeking to eliminate or reduce complexity. Some are very good at this. But this can also be a block to high performance, because generally this only leads to compliance from the workers. In this exercise, the InfoBroker team had to learn to let go of mental models of how work should be organized. They had to let an effective structure emerge through the interaction of the other participants. Part of this required the InfoBroker team to discover the difference between managing people and managing information.

The InfoBroker team finally pulled everyone into the same room and said that they had a problem with an organization in chaos. So each group would tell what they were doing on their assignment and then there would be between five and eight team reports on what the assignments were and at what point each team had reached in dealing with that assignment.

Gradually they would understand that if they would create a system of information management in which everyone could participate and everyone could volunteer, the tasks could be done. They would create a .i.ite-wall;white-wall area where they would track each assignment. You would need seven or eight people to start a project, but after all of the ideas were out on the table, you would only need two or three to complete it. Then the others could work on something else.

No one team ever had "enough" resources, whether human or technical. The teams learned how to find and share those resources through networking between teams. How would they decide what to work on next? They needed access to the information and status of all projects. That's collaboration.

We are always more comfortable when we know everything there is to know about a task or assignment before we begin to do it. This is a block to high productivity, because knowledge work is too complex for this. We can't know everything there is to know about our work. Somehow we must break through this barrier. In this exercise, no one on the teams had experience with the assignment they were given. They had to start without knowing. Once they began, they discovered they knew much more about the work than they thought they did.

Again, this doesn't sound like a fun process. But no one needs to like it for it to work. Going through this exercise gets people to realize that, at least for now, everyone is going to work as a collaborative team, sharing responsibility and-this is a tough one for management-information as well.

The complex, information-enriched, ime-compression exercise sketched here forces participants to move to a different mode of work, sharing information. Sound easy and natural? Not for many managers, who are used to taking all of the responsibility and information upon themselves. An amazing example is one senior manager at Agency Group-an excellent manager otherwise-who in this exercise dashed around pulling information down off the walls: information that she thought other groups didn't need and shouldn't have. Don't laugh-there are probably people in your organization doing the equivalent of this right now.

The benefit sought in this exercise is gained if the current (expensive) group can now work effectively on the critical task at hand during the next few days at this DesignShop. Although not critical to DesignShop success, the hope is also that the experience has been sufficiently intense that some of these lessons will be brought back to their daily work.

 

 

Challenge

1. Let's continue our established pattern. Without looking back at the book, quickly record any impressions you have upon finishing the chapter. Also record questions that may have occurred to you.

2. Draw a diagram or create a list showing all of the tools, strategies, and techniques you use to solve problems in a high-performance, creative, and collaborative manner. Arrange or label your diagram, or sort your list according to which items fit under each of the three stages of the creative process: Scan, Focus, Act.

3. Take note of any gaps in the results from Challenge 2. Perhaps you have only one or two items under Scan, or use the same strategy whether you're in Scan, Focus, or Act. Where might you look to strengthen and broaden your tool kit?


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