Routine vs. Creativity: 3 practices for your product team

Originally posted here.  

You can’t just give someone a creativity injection. You have to create an environment for curiosity and a way to encourage people and get the best out of them. Ken Robinson
The ability to create something new, to get a new business started, break boundaries with bold ideas or redefine the existing standards are among the perks of being a creative professional. Connecting the dots is no easy endeavor. The outstanding creative ideas many times:
  • spring from small ideas
  • require constant practice – creativity is just like a muscle, it needs constant training to obtain better results
  • are inspired from other industries, from other ideas, or even from small talks near the coffee machine

Creativity has become an appanage of many public speeches and a prerequisite of each professional hat. In practice, companies do forget important things: the investment in creativity is usually minimal; unfortunately nowadays, everything is focused more on productivity, rather than creativity.
Here comes the role of the manager: she can create and foster an environment that helps the teams becoming more creative, more eager to develop skills in this direction.
To easier enhance your creativity, here are three techniques you can start with:

The 6 Thinking Hats

Coined by Eduard de Bono, the 6 thinking hats techniques is a process, enabling the creative thinking. The technique involves “wearing” a different colored hat: black, white, red, green, yellow, and blue. By trying the hats, the team can explore more situations and redirect the flow of ideas.
Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 14.39.36
The 6 thinking hats, Eduard de Bono

Green Light/Red Light thinking

On one hand, Green Light (or think Captain Kirk model), just like the traffic light, is a metaphor expressing that any idea can work.  The accent is on positive encouragement, generation of as many ideas as possible, no matter their status. On the other hand, the Red Light (or think Mr. Spock model) is the metaphor for the sober analysis of what will go and what will be put in practice.
Green Light thinking can be associated also with brainstorming, as it involves the generation of as many ideas as possible, encouraging people to think of solutions they might overlook in other conditions. For the Red Light thinking, it involves an evaluation of each potential solution through certain criteria. Andy Green synthesis the process like this:
Green Light Thinking 
  • Anything goes and is permissible
  • The big picture is the context
  • Positive impact of risk
  • Emotional and intuitive
  • Anything can happen in the future
  • There is no evaluation or censorship of ideas
  • There should be no selling of ideas
  • The leader does not offer ideas
  • The list is reviewed at the end of the session
Red Light Thinking
  • Focus on analysis
  • Bring in the judgment mentality
  • Analyse practicalities
  • See functionality – will it work?
  • Assess the negative impact of risk
  • Take a look at the details
  • Examine what worked in the past

The Disney Strategy

This technique, inspired by Walt Disney strategy, focuses on a set of distinct stages to encourage creativity. According to this method, by using a specific flow builds parallel thinking that can be used to generate, evaluate, critique ideas and solve problems.
The stages are the Dreamer, the Realist, the Critic.
When your team is in the stage of dreamers, allow them to brainstorm without any restraints. Ask questions like:
  • What do we want?
  • What is the solution?
  • How do we imagine the solution?
  • What are the benefits of applying this solution?
Next, switch to the realist stage: filter the dreams, organize them and act upon. The team switches the place and the mode to think in a more logical planning style, starting to work on how dreams can be translated into the real world.
During this stage, ask questions like:
  • How can we apply this idea in reality?
  • What is the action plan to apply the idea?
  • What is the timeline to apply this idea?
  • How to evaluate the idea?
Then move to the critic phase. Here is the stage in which the team evaluates the ideas. Help the participants with questions like:
  • What could be wrong with the idea?
  • What is missing?
  • Why cannot be applied it?
  • What are the weaknesses in the plan?

A long-term investment

The creative mindset is a must have in the today world. Work is done not just for the sake of work, but for us to leave a better and outstanding tomorrow.
Let your teams experiment. Encourage them to challenge the obvious and make the quest for creativity an on-going endeavor. Thus, they will make an outstanding contribution in your products, business and internal/external communities.
If you work hard enough and assert yourself, and use your mind and imagination, you can shape the world to your desires. Malcolm Gladwell

Motivation is a marathon. 3 ideas to experiment with

The question of How to keep your team motivated pops up in various discussions with managers. The reasons vary, but with the increasing generation gap (think Millenials are coming), learning this is a process that requires adjustment. Feedback helps us adjust the work behaviour and keeps the motivation level high.
Gathering knowledge across a couple of years, there are a few ideas that stuck:
  • show people progress by emphasising small advancements towards the bigger goal
  • find incentives outside the material resources
  • challenge your own daily routines
Give intrinsic incentives? Show the small steps towards progress? Some of us do question this approach. Myself, after having experienced with working in international team, I’ve realised how important is to find the right, creative ways to keep people engaged, to work towards same goals while being happy and productive.
For you to experiment new techniques, here are some means to better engage the teams:
Read the full article here.  

5 links

I've always seen the New Year as a moment of wonder and reset. Taking time to be present, to dream, to have a look at how our year might look like, letting go of preconceived things, allows me to to have a better view on whats next for me.

I rarely make New Year Resolutions though. I try to give a direction of where I would like to be one year from now, with whom, and where, and I just work to make things happen. As last year showed me, by the end of the period, your meticulous plan might end up being overwhelming and different.
Each year, I try to review my working habits and personal patterns. Based on this assessment process, I try to change and improve, in order to increase my productivity and to achieve personal goals.

So, I believe is more important to have everything in order, keep an open mind, and actually start working on things.
Jeanne Crain in the motion picture Home in Indiana

For this blog, I have in mind a few ideas. The first of them is to switch the language from Romanian to English. When necessary, I will keep the posts in Romanian. Also, I am changing the series of web articles to the series 5 links. Other changes are on their way.

Thank you for reading my posts and looking forward for a new, exciting online year!



                                         10 TED Talks Every Entrepreneur Must Watch

Atelier pentru organizatii neguvernamentale- Brandraising: cum construim si cum comunicam brandul organizatiei

Salutare prieteni,

In aceasta vara va invit la invatat. Nu orice, ci cum stau lucrurile cu brandul organizatiei neguvernamentale, ce inseamna, cum il construim si cum comunicam astfel incat sa avem certitudinea ca ceea ce se reflecta la exterior descrie intocmai cine suntem, ce facem si ce valori avem.

Pe 25 iulie si pe 1 august va invit la o intalnire offline, la un training pe care l-am gandit tinand cont de nevoile si particularitatile organizatiilor neguvernamentale, despre si cu care am povestit in ultimii 7 ani, de cand fie vorbesc la radio despre si cu ele, fie lucrez pentru ele.

Credit foto William Iven

Asadar, detaliile pe care e musai sa le stiti sunt urmatoarele:

Inscrierea la aceste cursuri este deschisa tuturor celor care activeaza in cadrul unei organizatii neguvernamentale, insa sunt incurajati sa se inscrie cu precadere reprezentanti ai organizatiilor mici si mijlocii, aflate la inceput de drum.

Agenda cursului destinat construirii brandului va include: cum definim brandul, care este rolul brandingului intr-o organizatiei neguvernamentala, cum construim un brand care defineste personalitatea si pozitia organizatiei noastre, cum comunicam cu partenerii, cum crestem vizibilitatea organizatiei si ce instrumente gratuite (sau aproape gratuite) avem la indemana.

Participantii la trainingurile de vara vor beneficia gratuit de 2 ore de consultanta post training si acces la unul dintre webinariile pe care le pregatesc pentru toamna. 

Contravaloarea unui curs este de  60 Ron, sumele achitate sustinand proiectele Asociatiei Fluens destinate tinerilor din centrele de plasament si batranilor institutionalizati. Numarul maxim de participanti per curs este de 15 persoane.

Cursurile incep la ora 9 30 si vor avea o durata de  4 ore si se vor derula la sediul Asociatiei Fluens, din str. Lucacesti, nr. 4, sector 6, Bucuresti. Fiecare participant va primi un certificat ce va atesta prezenta sa la cursurile alese.

Inscrierea o faceti accesand acest link.

Aceste cursuri sunt realizate la invitatia Asociatiei Fluens si sunt destinate sa sprijine programele lor. De asemenea, aditional, in aceeasi perioada, va puteti inscrie la cursurile de Scrierea proiectelor destinate organizatiilor neguvernamentale. Informatii complete despre acestea regasiti aici.

Aveti nevoie de informatii pe care nu le regasiti in randurile de mai sus? Atunci un email cu intrebarile voastre trebuie sa ajunga la 

Va astept!

Editorial de Steliana Moraru: Istorie, istorii și istorioare/

Am primit cu multa bucurie vestea ca un bun prieten porneste pe drumul onlinelui cu site-ul, o canapea virtuala pentru toti cei care au idei si opinii tocmai bune de impartasit. 

Paltforma este la inceput de drum, asa ca orice incurajare/critica va fi de folos. 

Totodata, veti regasi si un editorial pe care l-am scris cu aceasta ocazie- Istorie, istorii si istorioare, un text personal despre cum vad eu lucrurile la  25 de ani de la caderea comunismului. 

Il regasiti integral aici. 

Blog post -Schimbarea jocului - – cum utilizează organizaţiile neguvernamentale din România tehnologia mobilă

Revin cu un articol referitor la utilizarea tehnologiei mobile în rândul organizațiilor neguvernamentale. 

Când am scris la începutul acestui an despre utilizarea tehnologiei mobile în domeniul neguvernamental, nu m-am gândit că voi relua subiectul atât de curând şi dintr-o perspectivă locală.

Prilejul mi-a fost oferit de cea de-a doua ediţie a Conferinţei academice internaţionale Strategica, organizată de de Facultatea de Management din cadrul Şcolii Naţionale de Studii Politice şi Administrative (SNSPA), în parteneriat cu Banca Naţională a României.
Astfel, mi-am propus să văd în ce măsură şi cum folosesc organizaţiile neguvernamentale (ONG) din România tehnologia mobilă (mobile technology) în activităţile lor, dacă folosesc campaniile prin SMS sau dacă au aplicaţii mobile proprii. Rezultatele cercetării prezentate în cadrul conferinţei Strategica se bazează pe răspunsurile primite la chestionarul online pe care l-am creat pentru această cercetare din partea a 106 ONGuri locale, în perioada iunie-iulie 2014. Textul integral al articolului îl puteţi găsi aici, iar prezentarea o puteţi vizualiza aici (ambele documente sunt în limba engleză).

Articolul integral îl regăsiți pe pagina

De pe web adunate - selectie de articole pentru citit in weekend

Bine v-am regasit, 

Astazi am pregatit o noua selectie de articole pe care le puteti citi in acest weekend. De asemenea, pentru ca am primit recomandarea de a include pe lista mea si articole scrise in limba romana, veti regasi pe lista si un astfel de articol. 

Lectura placuta!

This guide will look at some of the key issues and considerations around using apps in peace and development work, as well as offer some examples of how they are being used.  An app, which is short for (software) application, is  software that is used on a mobile device or smartphone (Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, iPad, etc.).  With the boom in use of smart phones, we have seen a corresponding growth in number of available apps, some of which are being leveraged for social change. According to Forbes, as of December 2013, there are 1,000,000 apps available in the Apple store, with 25,000-30,000 apps being added every month.

When thinking about using or developing an app for your program, here are some key issues to consider:
Does the tool fit the objective?  While apps show a lot of potential in our field, it is important to think about whether or not the technology matches with the goals and means of the project.  Some questions to consider:
  • Do people have access to smart phones? 
  • Will their identities and data be protected? 
  • How will data be monitored, used, and/or put into action? 
  • Are people expecting a response? How will the app meet those expectations and needs?
  • Is there an easier way to meet the same objective(s)?
  • How expensive will it be to develop an app?  Will the app be offered for free?
  • How do you verify accuracy of information and reporting?

In the century and a half since Sir John Tenniel’s original illustrations, the Carroll classic has sprouted everything from a pop-up book adaptation to a witty cookbook to a quantum physics allegory, and hundreds of artists around the world have reimagined it with remarkable creative vision. After my recent highlights of the best illustrations for Tolkien’s The Hobbit, here come the loveliest visual interpretations of the timeless book.

John Friedman, Corporate Responsibility Communications Director al companiei Sodexo, siMichael Stanley-Jones, Director de Comunicare in cadrul Programului Natiunilor Unite pentru Mediu (UNEP), au intocmit cate o lista de carti pe care orice specialist interesat de responsabilitatea sociala corporativa sau de dezvoltarea durabila ar trebui sa le parcurga.

What happens if you drop off a thousand Motorola Xoom tablet PCs in a village with kids who have never even seen a printed word? Within five months, they’ll have taught themselves to customize the software, reactivate disabled features and, perhaps, start down the path of learning to read. 
That last, critical part is at the core of a grand experiment in the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program. MIT is trying to crack the wicked problem of teaching literacy and other skills to 100 million or so first-grade-age kids in the developing world with no teachers or infrastructure. Since vast swaths of the world unable to provide even basic education, scaleable solutions are needed to complement the long road to achieve universal schooling (something that took the West centuries).

Business Adapts to a New Style of Computer

The Internet of things is especially important for companies that sell network equipment, like Cisco Systems. Cisco has been enthusiastically predicting that 50 billion “things” could be connected to communications networks within six years, up from around 10 billion mobile phones and PCs today (see “Silicon Valley to Get a Cellular Network, Just for Things”). Another beneficiary is the $300 billion semiconductor industry. As Blaauw notes, “Every time there has been a new class of computing, the total revenue for that class was larger than the previous ones. If that trend holds, it means the Internet of things will be bigger yet again.” 
But every shift promises pain, too. Large companies like Intel are already reeling from the rapid emergence of smartphones. Intel, with its powerful, power-hungry chips, was shut out of phones. So was Microsoft. Now both these companies, and many others, are groping to find the winning combination of software, interfaces, and processors for whatever comes next.