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Language as a Window into Human Nature

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Staying Relevant

It’s against human nature to react favorably to the disruption of process change. Continuous improvement means continuous change, and change takes people out of their comfort zone. How have you seen people react to changes in their work? The typical reaction is resistance. As Machiavelli pointed out in The Prince roughly 500 years ago, there is no constituency for innovation: “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.”

– Brad Power, Harvard Business Review Read More »

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How ‘OK’ took over the world

Did you know that the word ‘OK’ is one of the most frequently used and recognised words in the world? One reason for is success is the fact that almost every language has an O vowel, a K consonant, and an A vowel, so it is easily incorporated into a multitude of languages. Read More »

Mind The Gap

Any number of case studies can be cited as evidence that innovation and creativity are crucial to business success. Yet results from the European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS) suggest that many countries have much to do before they can be described as ‘innovative’.

So a real problem facing European organisations is that they just can’t recruit enough of those special ‘creative’ people – right? I’m not so sure. I’d suggest that the statistics say rather more about the way we tap into the innovation within our people than it does about any lack of potential creativity. And the real issue lies with our perception of creative thinking…

The problem can be traced back to 1981 when Professors Sperry and Ornstein told the world that human beings are of two minds. Their landmark “left brain, right brain” experiments showed that the two hemispheres of the brain are dominant in specific functions – left for logical and right for creative.

But an undeserved legacy of Sperry and Ornstein is a belief amongst the business community that ‘right-brain’ creative thinking is a gift that few of us are graced with. The reality is very different. Whilst their work showed that each side of the brain is dominant in specific functions, it also showed they are skilled in ALL functions and that analytical and creative thinking are complementary skills available to and accessible by all of us. Indeed it is simply our misconception that there is a gap between them that very often hinders our ability to be creative or innovative.

The business environment tends to perpetuate the myth that creative or innovative  thinking is for the chosen few. In our information-overloaded lives we tend to ask our people to use the logical, analytical and rational ‘left-brain’ labelled functions. And from childhood we are taught to create lists, to prioritise by numbering, to join the dots, to think ‘logically’, to focus on results, to seek an outcome, to follow the sequence, to take linear notes… the list goes on.

It’s also a fact that, for many of us, it’s not often that we are asked, allow ourselves – or are allowed by our work situation – to think creatively. And when we are, it’s no surprise that many of us feel that this is something out of the ordinary and perhaps beyond our grasp.

I believe that creativity and inclusion go hand-in-hand because it is flexibility and creativity that make possible inclusive ways of working. So what are inclusive ways of working? Well first and foremost it’s not everyone doing the same thing in the same way. Of course, there are behaviours that help guide our actions, but inclusion comes about through acceptance of diversity and non-conformity. If we are afraid or unable to be different, to relate our work in our own way, then we will be less able and willing to appreciate and develop the abilities of the people around us.

The challenge I’m giving myself – and you – is to take a creative or innovative approach to situations both at work and at home.  That doesn’t just mean being different, but being different and better……so let’s mind the gap

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Innovation is key to becoming a ‘people-centric’ business

When I think of “Inclusion and Diversity”, I automatically think about creating a diverse and inclusive workforce environment: providing all employees with learning and development opportunities, ensuring employees with disabilities have the right tools and resources and educating all employees on how to work with people with disabilities, sending out regular communications on techniques for how to strengthen inclusion and diversity in the workplace and so forth.

Reading this article from UTalkMarketing.com this morning over a cup of coffee made me question my own definition of “Inclusion and Diversity.” I came to the conclusion that my view on this subject was far too narrow – I was focussing on it from a purely internal perspective and needed to think outside of the box and include an external perspective too. Inclusion and Diversity isn’t just about making your diverse workforce feel included; it’s also about ensuring that your customers feel included AND that their voices and their business needs lie at the heart of your business.

The author of this article, Chris Beswick, argues that businesses need to develop a relationship with their customers, look at the world from their perspective and appreciate the problems they face and the things they aspire to. Instead of focussing on their own products and services, businesses need to put greater focus on their customers’ problems and tensions – it’s not “what you do”, i.e. what you sell; what you provide, but rather “how you do it”, i.e. how you fuel innovation and differentiation.

Yet Beswick argues that true customer-centricity is only possible if you first become people-centric. In his words the only way you can provide an exceptional end-to-end customer experience is to ensure that everyone in your organisation understands how to collaborate on solving your customers’ problems.

How do you extend Inclusion and Diversity to your customers? Share your thoughts below.

Do you have an Inclusion and Diversity story to share? Please send it to idblog@cisco.com.

To read the full article click here

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