Monday, 30 May 2011

Brainwriting - The Effective Alternative to Brainstorming?

It's been recognised for a number of years, despite its popularity, that brainstorming isn't the best way to create ideas. Business psychologist Peter Heslin has come up with the idea of Brainwriting which it is claimed is much more effective.

Brainwriting encourage group members to engage with each others' ideas. Briefly, it involves four group members writing ideas on slips of paper in silence. Group members pass the slips of paper between each other, reading others' ideas and inserting their own. Ink colour indicates who owns which ideas and when a paper slip has four ideas on it, it is placed in the centre of the table for all to see. This is repeated up to 25 times. The second stage involves group members withdrawing to the corners of the room and recalling as many of the ideas generated so far as possible - the rationale being that this encourages attention to the ideas generated. The final stage involves group members working alone for 15 minutes in an attempt to generate yet more ideas.

I tried this technology last week with a group of 20 senior managers.  The group were a little resistant at first - however to their credit they were able to suspend their disbelief and had a go at making it work.  The results were, to quote one of the group "tremendous".  The room did feel energised during the process and the outcomes more than met the expectations set at the star of the day.  I'm not sure this proves that Brainwriting is the best way to create ideas however it did work for the group in question and I plan to use it again as soon as the opportunity arises.

Source: British Psychological Society

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

There is no "I" in Team - Recognising a Bad Case of Narcissism

I've had a very busy few weeks with clients as no doubt regular readers will have noticed given the lack of posts. My focus has been on working with people undergoing either significant personal or corporate change. One of the key issues that seems to keep coming up is the destructive power of the ego. Ego is a Latin word meaning "I" and despite its many uses in the English language it is perhaps best known as a way of describing our level of self confidence and worth.

We all have egos, however, the problem is that we often let our egos get the better of us. Examples include situations where we end up answering questions before the other person has finished asking the question, or where we see everyone else as the problem rather than ourselves or where we refuse to give in in an argument even when we know we are wrong. Consequently we often experience transactions like this one painted by Delta 7:

There is basically a fine line between confidence and arrogance with those tending towards the "I" being seen by others are having a well developed case of narcissism.

So how can you spot narcissism in yourself and others? Here are some clues from my experience:
  • Always being perceived as arrogant, which makes people not want to be in your company
  • Lack of genuine relationships due to the rejection of your personality type by most people
  • Financial hardships as a result of always having to have the most expensive things to sustain your position in society
  • Feelings of shame, anger, embarrassment and guilt constantly result in you to criticising others
  • A general feeling of loneliness because people do not want to be around your huge ego
If this in part is familiar, you may have a (hopefully) slight case of narcissism. As one client put it to me the other day:
I am delighted to offer feedback and constructive criticism to other areas in the organisation but watch out anyone who tries to suggest my unit is not on the ball
The solution? The first step is self awareness. If that doesn't work ask for feedback - what do other people think about your personality style?  Personally, I find this really difficult to manage as I always tend to have an opinion on everything, hence why I am a blogger and leadership development specialist I guess.

Jack Black taught me one very helpful way to control at least a part of your ego - the tongue in the top of the mouth technique. So, whenever you feel yourself about to provide some wisdom lodge the tip of your tongue in the op of your mouth just above your two front teeth. The result is your brain stops trying to fill in the gaps and your ears start to listen.