Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Innovating Innovation, Building Trust, and Inspiring Better Management

Every week, we publish an exciting summary of the best articles, videos, events, and posts that relate to innovative management. This week, check out these summaries of 17 GREAT articles that inspire better management. Enjoy!

Innovating Innovation: 8 Stories from the Fringe

In the creative economy, innovation is more important than ever. Yet more often than not, when innovation occurs, it’s a “happy accident” rather than the product of a deep-rooted innovation competence. Fortunately we can learn from a few pioneering organizations that have successfully embedded innovation into their management DNA. In this special feature, we share eight inspiring examples of how to “innovate innovation,” based on stories contributed to the MIX.

How to Build Trust with Employees and Drive Stronger Results

How can business leaders build trust with employees today in such an untrusting and unpredictable business environment? More importantly, how do you build trust in a way that quickly impacts business results?

Those are questions that leaders across the business spectrum wrestle with—more so today than perhaps at any time in recent memory.  Employee trust in business leaders has plummeted, according to research from Interaction Associates and the Human Capital Institute—Building Trust in Business 2012—a survey of 440 people in more than 300 companies. Barely a quarter of workers say they trust their bosses, and only three in 10 say their company has effective leadership. These grim statistics are the worst in the four years that Interaction Associates has tracked trust.

The Building Trust in Business online survey featured 82 questions, including inquiries about whether respondents see their organization as having effective leadership at the top, and more granular questions about collaboration skills and perceived levels of employee engagement. When asked whether they see their organization as collaborative, only 32% of respondents said yes, down from 41% in 2009.  So, companies in 2012 are facing rock-bottom scores in trust, leadership and collaboration—bad news indeed for companies that are still struggling to succeed in a weakened economy.

Future Work Skills 2020

We chose to highlight six drivers—big, disruptive shifts that are likely to reshape the landscape for organizations and workers. Although each driver is in itself important when thinking about the future, it is the confluence of several drivers working together that produces true disruptions. We then identified 10 skills that we believe will be vital for success in the workforce:

Three Levels of Trust – Where Do Your Relationships Stand?

When it comes to trust, not all relationships are at the same level. Based on the context of the given relationship – professional, personal, family, social – each one can experience a different level of trust.
There are three basic levels of trust. The first level is deterence-based trust, or what I like to call “rules-based” trust.  The second level of trust is knowledge-based trust. This level of trust means that I’ve had enough experience with you and knowledge of your behavior that I have a pretty good idea of how you will react and behave in relationship with me. The third and most intimate level of trust we experience in relationships is calledidentity-based trust. This level of trust means that you know my hopes, dreams, goals, ambitions, fears, and doubts.

Go Beyond First Impressions to Better Understand Others

work hard to get better at understanding others, because it will improve your relationships and your ability to lead. Some thoughts on how to start:
  • Observe: Understanding others requires your attention and a stillness that is in contrast to our high-tech, fast-paced and distracting world. You can observe glimpses of what others value and what motivates them by using all of you to gently watch them.
  • Engage all of you: Using your senses is a great place to begin as you pay attention to others. See their body language, listen to their words, feel the emotion.
  • Check your assumptions: Nobody is made up of pure evil or pure goodness. We all have depth and layers below the surface.
  • Keep it up: Continue this disciplined way of paying attention to others as a way of understanding them.
  • Challenge what you think you know about others by using all of you. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Animal behaviour in the boardroom

"When I go back to the workplace, it's really about observing people more and not immediately putting them into boxes," she says.

"The organisation is about people and they're the most important part, so it's really about understanding the people that work for you."  Watching the monkeys grooming one another, Mr Van Veen emphasises the importance of this kind of supportive behaviour at work.  "We spend a lot of time in chit-chat, drinking coffee with each other," he says. "That's grooming behaviour, like primates do."  He says managers might neglect to do this sometimes, but it is a vital part of keeping a happy workplace environment.  Watching this interaction can give you an understanding of the politics at play. So next time you want to see who is really King Kong in your office, play close attention to just who is grooming whom.

How Millennials Leaving Their Parents' Basements Could Save the Economy

Young people are the lazy, smelly scapegoat of the recession. They're not working, they're living at home, they're constantly complaining about their debt, they're not buying cars or houses, and they're not even having babies.

But there is an outside chance that The Twentysomething, the media's favorite economic whipping boy, is poised to become the hero of the recovery, and it all comes down to two words. Household formation.
In the last four years, millions of young people who otherwise would be starting families and independent lives have waited out the recession in the cozy bunker of their parents' basement. One in three twentysomethings reported moving back in with their parents for an extended period of time, according to a 2011 Pew report. Some went back to school. Some worked. Some did nothing.
But economists are increasingly confident that this generation is ready to migrate into the real economy.

The Science of Genius

Outstanding creativity in all domains may stem from shared attributes and a common process of discovery.
Genius has been viewed two different ways: as achieved eminence and as exceptional intelligence. The former metric offers the more useful definition. Genetics and life experiences both contribute to genius. Creative contributions can occur only after a domain has been mastered, but genetics can help a person improve faster and accomplish more with a given amount of expertise.

Genius can share certain potentially negative traits with the mentally ill, but when these traits are combined with specific positive attributes, the result is creativity rather than psychopathology.
A scientific genius has different expertise than an artistic genius, but all creative geniuses may depend on the same general process: blind variation and selective retention.

Laughter as a Form of Exercise

Is laughter a kind of exercise? That offbeat question is at the heart of a new study of laughing and pain that emphasizes how unexpectedly entwined our bodies and emotions can be.
For the study, which was published this year in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, researchers at Oxford University recruited a large group of undergraduate men and women.

They then set out to make their volunteers laugh.
Most of us probably think of laughter, if we think of it at all, as a response to something funny — as, in effect, an emotion.

But laughter is fundamentally a physical action. “Laughter involves the repeated, forceful exhalation of breath from the lungs,” says Robin Dunbar, a professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford, who led the study. “The muscles of the diaphragm have to work very hard.” We’ve all heard the phrase “laugh until it hurts,” he points out. That pain isn’t metaphoric; prolonged laughing can be painful and exhausting.

Beating Hearts

Exercise is crucial to brain development. By providing heart rate monitors and exercise education curriculum to pilot schools across America, we will measure the impact of daily exercise on educational performance.
Beating Hearts will pilot a 20-30 minute daily morning exercise curriculum with heart rate monitors for high school students that not only improves their health, but also ability to learn. Naperville Central High School, a school in Chicago, recently tested the effect of exercise on a student’s ability to learn through a similar methodology.

Fight giants, slay dragons in college?

If you love playing the epic fantasy-themed game "The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim" then right now would be a great time to be a student at Rice University in Texas.
After all, if you take the English course being taught by instructor Donna Beth Ellard, then you'd be playing the enormously popular role-playing video game for homework ... not to mention for credit.
Ellard is an instructor in the private university's English Department. She specializes in medieval literature, and starting next spring she'll be teaching a class she's created called"Scandinavian Fantasy Worlds: Old Norse Sagas and Skyrim."

Up to 19 lucky students will have a chance to partake in this junior-level class which will have them reading selections from Old Norse and Old Icelandic sagas while they play different quests within the game.
Though Ellard told me this is the first time she's used a video game in a class, she is part of a growing number of college instructors who are incorporating games into university-level course work. For example, at Wabash College in Indiana, "Portal" was made required "reading" for all students. Meanwhile, World of Warcraft has been used at Mercyhurst College in Pennsylvania as part of the intelligence studies program. And at the University of Texas at Brownsville, one instructor has used PlayStation 3 video games to teach physics.

The Peak Time for Everything

Could you pack more into each day if you did everything at the optimal time?
A growing body of research suggests that paying attention to the body clock, and its effects on energy and alertness, can help pinpoint the different times of day when most of us perform our best at specific tasks, from resolving conflicts to thinking creatively.

As difficult as it may be to align schedules with the body clock, it may be worth it to try, because of significant potential health benefits. Disruption of circadian rhythms has been linked to such problems as diabetes, depression, dementia and obesity, says Steve Kay, a professor of molecular and computational biology at the University of Southern California. When the body's master clock can synchronize functioning of all its metabolic, cardiovascular and behavioral rhythms in response to light and other natural stimuli, it "gives us an edge in daily life," Dr. Kay says.

Are Creatives Born or Made?

It’s a provocative claim, made right in the headline: “Want to be a writer? Have a literary parent.” I included this London Independent article in last Friday’s Creativity Tweets of the Week, and it’s been gnawing at me ever since. As I am wont to do with The Artist’s Road, I will now turn the tables and do the gnawing, and I invite you to take a bite.

The article describes a study done by US and Russian researchers of the creative writing of several hundred children and their parents. Judges assigned the samples a quality rating, an admittedly subjective approach. “Taking into account intelligence and family background, the researchers then calculated the inherited and the environmental elements of creative writing,” the article states. “They found what they describe as a modest but statistically significant familiarity and heritability element to creative writing.”

101 Tips on How to Become More Creative

Tips to change your usual mental thinking patterns.
  1. Take a walk and look for something interesting.
  2. Make metaphorical-analogical connections between that something interesting and your problem.
  3. Open a dictionary and find a new word. Use it in a sentence.
  4. Make a connection between the word and your problem.
  5. How is an iceberg like an idea that might help you solve your problem?
  6. Create the dumbest idea you can.
  7. Ask a child.
  8. Create a prayer asking for help with your problem.
  9. What does the sky taste like?
  10. Create an idea that will get you fired.
  11. Read a different newspaper. If you read the Wall Street Journal, read the Washington Post.
  12. What else is like the problem? What other ideas does it suggest?
  13. What or who can you copy?
  14. What is your most bizarre idea?
  15. List all the things that bug you.
  16. Take a different route to work.
  17. Make up and sing a song about the problem while taking a shower.
  18. Listen to a different radio station each day.
  19. Ask the most creative person you know.
  20. Ask the least creative person you know.

Acoustic Barcode System Allows Scratch and Scan Data Retrieval

Carnegie Mellon University researchers are developing an acoustic barcode system that takes the sound of an object scraping across a series of parallel notches etched into a surface and converts it to a unique binary identification. The barcode part of the system consists of a series of parallel grooves and ridges on the surface of an object designed to produce a unique, complex sound when something is scraped across the top. The fixed-physical-length design encodes each 1 as a notch and each 0 as the space in between. The burst of sound produced as an object is swiped across the barcode is picked up by a piezo contact microphone. The reading system has been developed to compensate for variations in swipe speed by calculating a unit length implied by each gap. This number is then averaged with the previous unit estimates, allowing the value to drift as decoding proceeds, according to the researchers. The system was tested by having users swipe six types of barcodes using a fingernail, a dry erase marker, and a mobile phone, which performed at 87.4 percent accuracy, 77.9 percent accuracy, and 66.4 percent accuracy, respectively.

Making Time

No matter your commitments there is always a way to make time for things you love.
how can we better incorporate love of art into my daily life?
  1. Pick one day per week for your creative goal.
  2. Reflect on your schedule.
  3. Review how you move through your day.

PopTech Report: Looking at "Resilience" in the Context of Innovation

Resilience is the ability to recover, persist, or even thrive under disruption,” Andrew Zolli, curator and executive director of PopTech, said in his opening remarks.

“It’s not the same thing as robustness. It’s not the same thing as redundancy. It’s not about reserves. And it’s not about real-time information,” Zolli continued …resilience may be a path that people can choose to take, instead of resistance to trauma or, sadly, dysfunction after being traumatized. The big question for innovative thinkers: how to come up with ways to maximize the number of people in our communities or organizations who can “bounce back” from difficulty, as Galea defined resilience.

This can likely be achieved by improving our environments, he said. (This could mean designing cities or neighborhoods where people could walk more to reduce obesity and improve their health, for instance.)