Organizational Mental Floss is a virtual candy store of ideas to help organizations tap the creative potential of their people to create great futures for their organizations. Managers, team leaders, consultants, facilitators and anyone interested in change will love the ideas this book. Lindsay has extensive experience as an expert in creativity, innovation, and change in organizations. You’ll find this book to be very entertaining and full of some very different thoughts and techniques that will really take you to some places you’ve not yet been. And, it will be a very pleasant journey!
Below is a sample of this book:
Table of Contents
Organizational Tensegrity and the Journey of Discovery
Here we lay the groundwork for creating an organization that has the capability of doing things they never thought were possible. We’ll take a very different look at the mismatch between the nature of organiza-tions and the characteristics that encourage creativity and innovation and we’ll look at a process that will help close that gap.
Where New Thinking and Ideas Come From
If you’ve ever wondered about the real sources of ideas, here’s where you’ll find them. Some may be very surprising! You’ll see dozens of real life examples and leave this chapter with some exciting new prospects about where to find those idea treasures and some great ideas on how to trigger new ideas before their time.
A Left-Brain Look at the Right Brain: Creative Thinking Process Overview
This is the best summary you’ll ever see of some of the most powerful techniques for thinking creatively. A rational organization of what expands into hundreds of techniques that could generate ideas worth mil-lions – no, make that gazillions!
Group Mental Gymnastics and Warm-ups
If you are looking for a refreshingly different way to warm people up to some great thinking you’ll find it here. This is a veritable candy store for facilitators of creative group activities. Warming up before physical activity is recommended practice. So why shouldn’t you warm up before mental activity? The techniques here will free up the creative juices and really get you started – or they might get you fired.
New Off the Wall Techniques for Stimulating Ideas
And now for something completely different! This is for those of you who are ready to temporarily lose all touch with reality and really get outside that thinking box. Some of you will find returning to reality very disappointing after taking some of the trips included here. Over the years I’ve used hundreds of ways to help people stretch into the creative zone. Here’s where I get a chance to share some of these with you. Facilitators will really eat this one up!
Getting Off the Beaten Path.
Miscellaneous Organizational Braindroppings.
Here’s my chance to let my mind wander into the discussion of a number of items that have intrigued me over the years. You’ll find a wide array of ideas here that go from valuable observations on organizational life to the down right weird. Read a few of these braindroppings just before going to sleep each night and you’ll feel great in the morning. Read a few more each morning and you’ll feel great all day. What more could you want? These are great to use as abstracts in newsletters too. Just tell people where you got them.
Scouting the Future
Back to earth! Pulling yourself to an exciting future is much more interesting than pushing yourself for-ward from today. Most organizations I’ve known tend to walk backwards into the future. Most of their energy is focused on protecting the past. Try to picture a cowboy backing away from the bad guy with guns blazing and you‘ll get a good picture of what I mean. Here we’ll take a look at how to scout the fu-ture and its implications to you and your beloved organization. I’ll also put my content futurist hat on and give you some great tips about the future.
How to Be a Raging, Inexorable, Thunder-Lizard
You’ll get to this chapter with hundreds of exciting ideas and possibilities. Here we’ll look at how to real-ly put them to use. You wouldn’t want these great ideas to end up in idea heaven would you? Here we focus more on your own personal potential to be as creative as possible. After reading this chapter you’ll actually be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!
There’s a gold mine of information and ideas here. Copy them till your toner runs dry.
For those who are interested in pursuing a more intensive process of scouting the future here is a rather complete summary of what futurists are saying. If you want a quick peak at future trends, driving forces, and technologies that will be important to you then cheat a little and turn to this appendix now.
A Few of My Favorite Quotations
Quotations are valuable thinking aids and here you’ll find some of the best and most useable of all. In case I haven’t told you yet, I have another book devoted to creative quotations (Quotations to Tickle Your Brain). Check it out. There are lots of laughs and lots of pearls of wisdom here that will help you take your thinking to a higher plane.
Museum of Bonehead Remarks
Talk about thinking blocks! Here’s my collection of comments that illustrate how people have framed their possibilities based on their past experience (and usually been stung by it). Many of these will surprise you. Of course, none of you would ever think of saying anything as silly as what exists here in this Ap-pendix. Doesn’t it comfort you to know that the term ‘bonehead’ always refers to other people? I dare you to start reading this right now. Betcha can’t stop!
How to Be Incredibly Creative All the Time
What more can I say? Keep these with you all the time. Hang them on your refrigerator. Put them under your pillow. Stick them under your eyelids. You’ll never have the same thinks again.
Design of Creativity and Humor Rooms
I had my 15 minutes of fame when I built a Humor Room at Eastman Kodak in 1991 that was the precur-sor of many of the creativity rooms you see in organizations today. NBC Today, the Wall Street Journal, CNBC’s Industry Week Managing Today program and write-ups in a number of magazines followed and a lot of companies began creating similar spaces based on this model.. Here are some thoughts for design-ing such a room for some really funtastic results.
Biography of Readings on Creativity
This may be the best book you ever read on creativity in business. But there are some other wonderful ones and I want you to read them all (after you read mine of course). I also don’t want you wasting your time and money so there are some brutally honest reviews included.
New Job Titles
One way to be more creative is to change your title to something that really gets you excited. This is the best (maybe the only) collection of wild job titles you’ll ever see. If you can’t find that new title here then you can’t find it anywhere. Feel free to use any of these titles for your own business cards.
Things to Whine About
If you ever need a list of things to whine about, here it is. Whining about everything on this list is just like receiving an exorcism. And I’m beginning to think that we need more workplace exorcisms.
Murphy’s Laws of Combat Operations
I’m not sure where I got these from but so many of them have a direct implication for all organizations. Most of them are also pretty funny.
These are a blast! Some are quite amazing, some are very useful metaphors, and some are marginally use-less but fun to know anyway. I’ve been collecting them for a long time and it feels good to be able to share them with you.
“Oh the Thinks You Can Think”
It may sound very strange to start a book about real organizations with a quote from Dr. Seuss. Early in my career as an internal consultant at Eastman Kodak Company when I was in the first stages of develop-ing of a program to train people in creative thinking my kids were at the “read me a story Daddy” stage (I wish I could go back there today). Of course, Dr. Seuss played a prominent role here and his book, Oh the Thinks You Can Think, gave me tremendous motivation to move forward and influence the thinking pro-cesses within this one-time great company.
Very few organizations I know of spend much time enhancing the thinking capabilities of their associates. Everything we do, individually and collectively, starts as a thought, becomes a behavior, and then moves to an action. I believe most organizations focus their energy on the behavior and the action. And yet, if they could jack up the thinking to higher creative level, tremendous possibilities would appear. Dull think-ing creates dull behavior, which creates dull results. This book will help you to influence the thinking part of this flow and allow some much more creative behavior and results.
Why have so many of the programs of the past been so ineffective? Lately more and more is publicized about the failure of everything from TQM to reengineering or building learning organizations. Most of these failures come from the fact that, while many of these programs had the potential to be quite valua-ble, the real thinking within the organizations didn’t change. Only behaviors and results were taken into consideration. When the thinking doesn’t change, as soon as the program push stops, the path of least re-sistance takes you back to where you were. Unfortunately, it often takes you back to a position worse than you were before because you’ve most likely eroded the feelings, confidence, and morale of associates along the way. You’ve created disgruntled employees out of gruntled ones. I know of one major upstate New York company that has been nearly destroyed by the reengineering done by a major consulting firm. Major consulting firms tend to be pretty heartless and seem to have no concept of the dynamics that a hatchet job has on an organization.
Most of these programs are directed towards what CK Prahalad and Gary Hamel in their book, Compet-ing for the Future, would call managing the denominator. If an organization’s profit and viability are de-termined by the goods or services sold over the cost of these items, most organizations spend more time looking at the cost. Why not spend the time looking at how to increase the numerator (goods and services sold)? This book is about doing just that. By tapping the creative potential of people in the workplace you release an enormous potential that may be largely unused. To do that you must do something very differ-ent – but, before that, you must also be able to think very different.
The following story says a great deal about how organizational dynamics shapes the thinking process. Does it sound familiar to you?
In a cage there are five apes. In the cage hangs a banana on a string over some stairs. Before long, one ape will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana, but as soon as he touches the stairs, all the apes are sprayed with cold water,
After a while, another ape makes an attempt with the same result and all the apes are sprayed with water.
After a while, if an ape tries to climb the stairs, the other apes will act to prevent it.
Now, remove one ape from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new ape sees the ba-nana and wants to climb the stairs. To his horror, all the other apes attack him. After another attempt and another attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.
Next, remove another of the original five apes and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.
Replace another ape with a new one. The new one makes it to the stairs and is attacked as well. Two of the four apes that beat him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest ape.
After replacing the fourth and fifth original apes, all the apes that have been sprayed with cold water have been replaced. Nevertheless, no ape ever again approaches the stairs. Why not?
“Because that’s the way it’s always been around here.”
So cast aside your thoughts as to the way things are supposed to be. And cast aside the strong need you may have to make judgments of the material in this book. Replace your why? thinking with why not? thinking. There are techniques and thought processes here that will take you places you’ve never been be-fore. You may be tempted to just scan over some of them and say, “That’s interesting”. I invite you to take this material much further and try these techniques out in your own situation, particularly where group process is possible. At the very least, you’ll have a wonderful time thinking this way – and there’s a pretty good possibility that you’ll enable some very powerful breakthroughs.
Some of you may be thinking, “We don’t have time for this.” I’m hoping that, by the time you finish this book, you’ll be saying, “We don’t have time not to do this,”
One of my first mentors (although he doesn’t know it) was George Prince. He is the one that originally spawned my interest in business creativity over 40 years ago. He once described creativity as an arbitrary harmony, an expected astonishment, a habitual revelation, a familiar surprise, a generous selfishness, an unexpected certainty, a formidable stubbornness, a vital triviality, a disciplined freedom, an intoxicated steadiness, a repeated initiation, a difficult delight, a predictable gamble, an ephemeral solidity, a unifying difference, a demanding satisfier, a miraculous expectation and an accustomed amazement.
Try to recognize these as you read on. Have fun, enjoy the journey, and prosper!