September 16, 2011
People seem to have the misconception that only a select few are able to unleash a steady flow of creative genius. That is not true at all. The fact is, creativity is very much like a muscle that needs to be exercised in order to consistently give out great results. If you don't practice harnessing creative thinking, this skill will very much atrophy into inexistence. But keep working and this skill will soon come to you in a snap.
So how do you unleash your creative thinking? Well, the first thing is to become a human leech. No, we're not talking about just sucking the blood out of every living being available, we're saying that you should take in as much knowledge and learning you can find. Read everything available -- good and bad, and keep your mind open to the infinite possibilities of the universe. The more you know, the more you'll want to know, and the more your faculty of wonder will be exercised. Prepare to be amazed at little facts that add a bit of color into your life.
Focus on a creative activity everyday. Yes, it's an effort. Even doodling is a creative activity. Don't let anything hinder you. Mindlessness may be a creative activity, but for people who are just starting out to unleash a little bit of creative thinking in their lives, it is helpful and encouraging to have concrete evidence, that, "hey, what I'm doing is getting somewhere." So why don't you try it. Practice drawing for a couple of minutes each day. Bring out your old camera and start snapping photos like crazy. Keep a journal and make a point to write in it religiously. Another cool idea is to write by describing something with your five senses. Try to avoid vague adjectives like "marvelous," "amazing," and "delicious." Before you know it, you'll have built yourself a tiny portfolio, and you'll be amazed at the growth you've undertaken after amassing all those works of art. Who knows, you might actually take to liking those things you do everyday. Pretty soon those things will become a part of you and you'll be addicted to these creative exercises.
Think out of the box -- or don't. Sometimes, constraints are actually a good thing. Limitations discipline you to work within your means. It enables you to be more resourceful. Creative freedom is great, but limitations enforce discipline.
Try something new everyday and let your experiences broaden your perspective. Explore a new district in your neighborhood. Spend an afternoon in a museum to which you've never been before. Chat up someone on the bus. Open up to the people around you. As you thrust yourself out of your comfort zone more and more each day, your sense of adventure grows and so does your zest for life. Think about it. When was the last time you did something for the first time? If it's been a while, I tell you, you've been missing out on a whole lot of experiences that could've added to your growth, emotionally, mentally, physically, or spiritually. Why don't you try bungee jumping today? Not only will you learn, but you will also have plenty of stories to share, enabling you to practice your storytelling skills and making you the life of the party.
Embrace insanity. No, not to the point of practically admitting yourself into the mental ward. As John Russell once said, "Sanity calms, but madness is more interesting." Exactly! Every creative thought was once deemed insanity by other "normal" people at one time or another. Luckily, that didn't stop the creative geniuses from standing by them. The thing is, sanity or being normal confines people to think... well, normally. Withink limits. Creativity is essentially breaking through barriers. Yes, this includes the bizzarre and the downright strange. I'm not saying that you yourself should develop a creative personality. That might go haywire. An example of a creative personality would be George Washington, who often rode into battle naked, or James Joyce, who wrote "Dubliners" with beetle juice for an intense fear of ink, or Albert Einstein, who thought his cat was a spy sent by his rival (or in thinking creatively in this case, the term could probably be "archnemesis.") It's important that your creativity doesn't get you detached from the real world completely.
I hope this article has inspired you to start thinking beyond your "limits." If you follow these steps pretty soon you'll be living a life full of interesting adventures. Unleashing your creative thinking will bring about a new zest for living life.
Creative Thinking and Innovation Techniques
September 16, 2011
What are the three keys to self improvement and motivation?
Inspiration is critical to staying motivated and improving oneself. If you are not interested in your business, your motivation level will never be high and you will not be able to sustain interest for very long.
Take an honest look at your inspiration level. Are you excited about going to work or is it an obligation? You would be surprised at the number of people who choose a business that looks good on paper, but in reality does not interest them in the least.
These individuals will grow weary and uninterested pretty quickly because they have no inspiration or passion to sustain them during the difficult times they will encounter as a small business owner.
If you do not like your work, then think how you can re-focus your small business to better match your needs. Or consider making a change entirely. Without inspiration, there will not be motivated to even try self improvement.
2. SETTING GOALS.
Short and long-term goal setting is vital for any business owner. If you do not set goals, you would have no definite purpose on which path of self improvement to take.
How could you possibly be motivated if you were unsure about the direction of your company?
Take the time to put your goals in writing. A business plan may sound daunting, but it is really nothing more than goals, strategies, implementation and a budget. Write your own business plan and update it at least annually.
Include “mini-goals” that can be accomplished in a matter of hours, days or weeks as well as the more ambitious “grand-goals” that may take years to complete. Refer to this plan throughout the year.
But can a business plan really help motivate you? Of course. Written goals will make you feel more professional and certainly more connected to your business. It will also free you from having to reinvent your business goals every single day.
Another key factor in getting and staying motivated is networking with other small business owners. No one person knows all the knowledge.
However, when a number of people begin working together, the challenges will just be there waiting to be conquered.
In fact, the isolation of working alone is of one the most difficult parts of being an entrepreneur. You can never be on your way to self improvement without the help of others. Mutual support is motivating.
Make it easier on yourself by connecting with others either in your community or online. Even when businesses are not related, you will often find common ground and ways to work together.
Many successful entrepreneurs report that finding the right networking group was a turning point in the growth of the business. Working together, a networking group can help its members generate more qualified sales leads and solve problems faster and more efficiently.
Sharing ideas, expertise and experience is also an invaluable aspect of motivation and self improvement.
Your own personal team of business owners will help re-energize you when the burdens of running your own business seem too much.
With your networking team to rely on, you can accomplish more in less time and probably have more fun in the process. You will feel motivated to accomplish self improvement when you know you are not alone.
November 11, 2010
Yet another 10 Value-Adding Questions to ask before finalizing your Scope of Work .
These questions relate to what amounts to a ‘Reality-check' and cover the evaluation of our available Internal resources:
- 1) Is the intended Scope compatible with the Master Plan / Corporate Objectives?
- 2) Do we have the financial resources for the intended SoW (Budget)?
- 3) Is the intended SoW compatible with our Policies / Procedures?
- 4) Did we check our time-limits, schedule(s), criticality & urgency of the intended SoW in relation to the Master plan / Corporate Objectives?
- 5) Do we , internally, have the ‘competent' manpower required for developing the SoW?
- 6) Can they do it in time ?
- 7) Do we , internally, have the ‘competent' manpower required for preparing the tender ‘evaluation criteria' ?
- 8) Can they do the technical evaluation using these criteria ( Skills to develop criteria for evaluation are different from skills to technically evaluate these criteria )?
- 9) Did we check the compatibility of the intended Sow with the existing systems / infrastructure ( e.g. availability of hardware that can support the intended software)
- 10) Did we identify the proposed Contract Managers/ Administrators / supervisors and evaluated the need for further training for the implementation of the Contract?
November 11, 2010
Yet 10 more Value-Adding Questions to ask before finalizing your Scope of Work .
These questions relate to what amounts to a ‘Reality-check' and cover the evaluation of available External
- 1) Are there enough suppliers/ contractors who can do the job in our traditional market?
- 2) Did we approach them requesting that they ‘show interest ‘ in bidding for the intended SOW?
- 3) Do we need to expand our reach ( regional, international sources)?
- 4) Do we have a Pre-approved list of potential bidders to draw from?
- 5) Do we need to short-list or go ‘open'?
- 6) How do the present market conditions affect our intended SoW ?
- 7) Are there ‘alternatives' that can (better/cheaper) achieve our intended objectives?
- 8) Did we approach potential bidders for information that can help formulate the intended SoW ?
- 9) Are we up-to-date on the latest / most economical technology available in the market that can be used in the intended SoW?
- 10) Did we check the availability ( and cost) of the after-sale services available locally / regionally?
November 06, 2010
Ten Value-Adding Questions to ask before finalizing your Scope of Work:
1) Although ‘ in the budget' do we REALLY need it ?
2) Are all the included criteria / features needed ?
3) Can we ‘reduce' the required Sow (less numbers, less weight, less features etc... ) ?
4) Are there ( more economical) ‘ alternatives' that can ( almost ) serve the same purpose ?
5) Did we include too many ‘proprietary' features that may reduce competition and increase the cost ?
6) Did we consider ‘ the whole life cost' (as opposed to least expensive) of the major components of the intended SoW ?
7) Did we calculate ‘ the Value for Money' (as opposed to least expensive) of the major components of the intended SoW ?
8) Do we have existing contracts that we can re-negotiate in order to include / accommodate the intended SoW ? ( will save on the bidding process as well as mobilization and other costs)
9) Can we combine the intended SoW with other existing or planned contracts?
10) Did we review our data base of ‘Lessons Learned' to benefit from previous ‘successes' and avoid previous ‘ mishaps' ?
October 21, 2010
Your Scope of Work - SoW- ( or part of it) includes a service / product that is available from just the ‘one source'. Efforts to negotiate better terms (including more reasonable price) with the provider fail.Here are some suggestions as to how to deal with the situation:A) Short to medium term choices:
•B) Longer-term choices:
- ‘Reluctantly and temporarily‘ go with the deal, possibly until you figure out a longer-term solution.
- Negotiate a Long Term Price Agreement ( you may get better terms if you commit for a longer period)
- Scrap / replace the service / product in the SoW.. whenever possible !
- Go for a ‘substitute' ( similar not identical).
- Use an alternative service / product that may (somewhat) achieve the purpose.
- Amend some features of the service / product in order to remove the ‘proprietary' aspects.
- Approach other suppliers for suggestions.
- Approach other suppliers outside the ‘Monopoly' area (including possibly the original supplier of the service/product)
- Combination of two or more of the above.
- Explore possibilities for a Barter (scratch my back, I'll scratch yours) . The supplier may need some of your products /services and therefore may show some flexibility.
- Explore possibilities of ‘ Who knows whom' in your / supplier organizations. Personal relationship (especially at the Top) may work miracles!!
- Redesign your Sow to :
- a. Exclude the subject service / product
- b. Use an alternative service/product
- c. Include an ‘in-house' product/service (available within your organization)
- 1) If you invest enough time and attention in preparing your SoW , you should be able to avoid including any ‘proprietary' service / product that may lead to a ‘Sole Source' situation.
- 2) When awarding a contract special care should be given to avoid putting ourselves in a ‘Monopoly' situation ( such as availability of ‘maintenance' services and spare parts exclusively from the OEM)
September 23, 2010
Does Employee Satisfaction Equal Employee Engagement?
A happy employee is an engaged employee, Yes/No?
According to all available research, including numerous global studies and surveys, the answer is a resounding and absolute No.A Happy Employee - But Not Engaged
Look at it this way. An employee who is not engaged at work might very well indicate a high level of satisfaction with their organization. This employee is getting everything they wish: a steady paycheck, benefits, sick leave and paid vacation. However, their actual contribution to the well being of the organization in terms of, the typical discretionary indicators such as, innovation, creativity, productivity and, improved customer service is negligible. But they are satisfied. It's an easy ride maybe?An Engaged Employee - But Not Happy
On the other hand, a fully engaged employee that is enthusiastic about their work is creative, innovative and who wants to contribute, might indicate a lower level of satisfaction with the same organization the opposite of the disengaged employee. Unhappy for various reasons, he/she goes on doing the "right things".
These are the employees you risk losing. Some surveys suggest that over over 50% of employees are ready to start looking for new jobs once the crisis eases. Typical Survey ResultsSatisfaction
In surveys Meirc has conducted on behalf of GCC/MENA clients, in the period 2008-2010, just over 50% of employees indicated that they were/are satisfied/very satisfied (not a great number).Engagement
Recent international surveys, including a recent Gallup international survey of over 100,000 employees, indicate that as many as 54% of employees are not engaged: they are at work physically but not mentally or emotionally and that another 17% are actively disengaged and unhappy, and worse still, spreading discontent, poor productivity and customer service levels as low as 17% satisfied customers.
Do You Know?
Some questions for you are "do you know whether your employees are happy?" Do you know how to assess whether or not they are engaged? Which is most important to you as a manager? Should you care? Do you want to know more?
have a great weekend wherever you are.
Leslie, Dubai, September 23, 2010
September 23, 2010
Leadership and Employee Engagement
In an article, recently placed on Blog on Meirc's website, titled Employee Engagement", the author highlighted the main employee engagement drivers as identified in a recent Global Survey*. These included:
- Senior management sincerely interested in employee well-being.
- Input into decision making in my department.
- Good relationship with my supervisor.
- Organization encourages innovation.
This survey identified that first and foremost amongst employees, and before
you can have an engaged workforce, organizations must have effective and engaged-leadership at the top.
An indication of how many participants (out of over 90,000 globally) agreed with the following statements on 5 key leadership behaviors is shown below.
Senior management in our organization is sincerely interested in employee well-being.
Senior management here communicates openly and honestly
Senior management we have tries to be visible and accessible
Senior management effectively communicates the reasons for key business decisions
Senior management's actions are always consistent with the organization's values
*Towers Perrin: Global Workforce Study 2007-2008
In all cases less than 50% agreeability. These confirm the results of some of Meirc's own regionally based employee surveys (2007-2010).
One critical observation you might make is that that many of today's leaders including those who aspire to these visible and challenging leadership roles do need to sharpen their interpersonal skills.
Part of the problem is that many top executives began their careers in specific technical disciplines such as finance or engineering. They bring primarily rational/analytical skills to their jobs, when what is an increasingly critical need is for skills and behaviors such as empathy and communication.
The need is obviously to combine both the left and right brain abilities. The new breed of leader needs to be ambidextrous for example displaying, emotional intelligence. This idea is of course is not new. In her 1924 published works, on creative leadership, author Mary Parker Follet summed up the total leadership experience with these simple and powerful words: "Leadership is not defined by the exercise of power, but by the capacity to increase the sense of power among those who are led. The most essential work of the leader is to create more leaders". ©
If we truly recognize that there is need to close the engagement gap (see the Meirc blog dated August 23, 2010 and titled Employee Engagement), the first change has to come at the top. Organizations should ask themselves:
- Do our leaders have the mixed set of competencies needed of the ambidextrous leader?
- Are we promoting the right people, based on the correct criteria?
- Do our performance management programs emphasize the importance of the key empathy touch points such as coaching, transparency and trust?
For further information on employee engagement contact Leslie Price on firstname.lastname@example.org
© Mary Parker Follet
August 23, 2010
Employee Engagement: Do you know what it is and how to measure it?
Do know what the top engagement drivers are? Five things that engaged employees' value?
Do you want to learn how to improve your customer service KPIs through improved employee engagement?
Are you a professional who wants to add more value to the organization?
For answers to these questions, to know more about the motivations behind improved employee productivity, to understand how to develop a better customer service profile and ultimately improved organizational and financial performance, participate in this blog.
Share your views and participate in real time, meaningful discussions with myself and other like-minded professionals.
Start making the difference that counts now!
August 19, 2010
Meirc Training and Consulting is introducing a new training program for professional project managers to learn about advanced tools to manage their projects. This training course will provide an in-depth knowledge on creating and managing project from planning phase to execution.
The certified program will cover topics in project selection techniques using financial and non-financial models, advanced project planning, budgeting, resource management, slack management and risk management. It will also cover tools that are used to monitor, control and report the progress and the status of the project such as variance reports and earned value. The course will also cover tools that used to manage complex projects such as system anatomy, kokotovich Triad and program tool.
Meirc certificate in advance project management will be in premiered in May 2011.
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