Sunday, March 30, 2008

Small Business Advice Regarding Creativity

Small Business Advice Regarding Creativity

We have some rough time at my workplace, due to hostile competitors. Our boss is frequently demanding: ‘Be more creative. Think differently’.
I would like a professional Small Business Advice Provider to clarify what it is all about?

As a Small Business Advice provider I sometime help to transform ideas to reality but some other times just to read together the dictionary; so let me first explain the terms that are being used by your boss:

The ‘regular’ way of thinking will be discussed now, in order for us, later, to understand the demand for a ‘different’ one.
The regular, which is the more conventional and common, type of thinking and decision making, is the ‘logic’, sometimes called ‘analytic’ thinking process. It is usually described as an ongoing flow type of a process, in which one stage of conclusion is leading to the next one, until the best solution is reached.

A simple example of that case, which is not a real Small Business Advice, is the process that most of us use once we cannot find our keys: we search the pockets, then the briefcase, then the table and thereafter the last place that we have been, according to our memory, and so on.

A researcher that taught us a lot regarding our thinking processes, Eduard DeBono, labeled this process as ‘Vertical Thinking’: the stream of thoughts moves like an arrow that continues its motion until the target is hit.

Let us now deal with the other term that your boss waves with: the ‘be creative’ challenge.

The proper way to describe the creative thinking process is sometimes by matching it to a dotted or spiral line that resembles a bird flight route or a frog’s elastic jump’s track; sometimes to the water wave shapes; at times to a fire works sparking lights.
DeBono labeled this process: ‘Lateral Thinking’, to reflect the unstructured, not too easy to predict and often irrational pathway of the thinking process. Following Debono, every Small Business Advice provider will tell you that each creative process has a unique shape, which implies that every creative solution will have its unique and one time original pattern.

We now approach the stage of my answer where it is possible to understand why your boss wants to see more of the creative, lateral thinking.
It is definitely NOT because there is a natural biased preference towards creative thinking, no matter how nice and culturally it sounds. On the contrary: most of our daily challenges are better solved with the ordinary, vertical thinking method. To stress this point I’ll testify that most trainings and improvements processes are giving best results when they present learners with logical / vertical methods of analyzing situations and screening for the best decision that is appropriate for a given case.

To conclude this first Small Business Advice: the call for the creative thinking approach is neither the natural best bet nor the ‘politically correct’ thing to do.

It is the situation, once it is unique or extraordinary complex that calls for the creative approach:
If your competitors play not according to the rules or if the common known tactics that have been already employed did not result with the expected turnarounds that your boss hoped for, the call for creative measures is justified. It implies that you all would welcome the ‘unthinkable’ thoughts; the non-logical but intuitive and gut-feeling reasoning for your suggestions; the application of new and yet unused ideas and methods; the fixture of your current problems with other tools then you have tried before.

Since you did not provide some info about your specific problems, I’ll use an old folk tail to explain my point:
There was a guy who traveled in the jungles, and during one night a monkey stole his precious hat. He did have another one, but was not ready to give up and continue his journey, since the stolen hat, as the second one, were very precious indeed. So he went to the king lion with a very friendly posture and complained against the hostile attitude that he, as a guest in the kingdom, has experienced. The monkey maid it clear to the lion’s aids the there is no chance that the lion’s authority would make a difference. A jungle is a jungle, he reminded them. Our poor guy tried therefore to negotiate, with bananas of course, but there was no prospect for a real deal, since the hat was so precious. Then he had no choice but to play the jungle rules, so he threatened, with his gun. But the smart monkey remind cool, warned him that it is illegal and threatened back that it would cause for an immediate arrest.

So far we have seen the common, known, logic, lateral thinking: we try to be nice, we bargain, and then we threat.

Our story takes us now to the creative thinking process that the desperate fellow started to
employ at that stage. He remembered something from his childhood about the various characters that the children used to attach to animals: the lion is strong, the fox is smart, the chicken is afraid… and monkeys are bunch of imitators! They have no ‘ego’ of their own; they would imitate and follow what they see…

In a sudden, but it was all well thought and planned, our fellow started to shout toward the monkey who was sitting safely well above, on the near tree; he sound very angry, and moved his hands with rage. Then, as an act of contempt, he took his other precious hat, the only one that left, put it on his had, and then took it and threw it hard and with a lot of anger to the floor.

Our monkey did what his genes instructed his brain to do: he imitated the angry man, took the hat, and threw it on the floor too.

Was our hero lucky, smart, genius?
Well, it is up to you to decide.
My story at this point actually attempts to present the second Small Business Advice: a spark of memory, combined with a good application of common know-how (the genes…) can and should lead to a creative solution that is necessary, once the old methods are not effective any more.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Leadership At Home Via Online Counseling

Leadership At Home Via Online Counseling

There are tough times in our family due to tension between us, the parents, and our two teen aged kids. They are less and less obeying the house rules. We do not want to go to formal family therapy sessions; we heard that Online Counseling could be effective enough. Can we get help to maintain our childrens' discipline?

We can miss very quickly the point once we concentrate on the issue of obedience and discipline. It is, many times, a remedy for a failure, to pinpoint and zoom onto the children’s side, and dealing with THEIR defiant behavior. We definitely can use the Online Counseling process to deal with your value system first. This will help to tern the question away from the issue of controlling the kids to the challenge of educating and guiding them.

For that purpose I recommend you to take a look at YOUR end, and re-asses the nature of your parental authoritative power.
Forget the …‘I’m your parent and therefore you do so and so because I say so’… stuff. It belongs to old days that are far gone. No parent should trust that method to work well and for a long time, as it used to be. It is your problem if you tend to stick to it. If so, parents, you better wake up. We are at the 21st century. The Online Counseling guidance process deals with issue in a most successful way.

The term of LEADERSHIP is called for.

The essence of leadership, in short, is the ability to build trust that creates sustained loyalty for you. It is also the process of influencing others to adopt and follow your directions and ideas. You, the parents, can be so and do so through modeling and relationship building.

No, your home is not the political arena, but yes, parents should develop and maintain their leadership position if they want their children to follow their guidelines and their house rules. And please note: leading is not ruling! Parents who are their kids’ leaders tend to worry less regarding the intensity of obedience that they have established and more about the charismatic bonds that they should create. They do not base their expectation on their children’s fear from punishment but on their kids’ decision to maintain their loyalty to their parents.

Since leadership is built through modeling and relationship building, I’ll first explain the concept of modeling:
‘Leading by example’ or ‘walk your talk’ is modeling. And you can check yourselves and your parenting style:
- do you, the parents, involve your kids with family budget planning and spending? This is an opportunity to model financial awareness and responsibility.
- Do you expose them to the various ways you choose to refrain from substances while socializing? This models them a decision making process regarding values and cultural norms.

Smart parents, therefore, choose to act wherever they are as if they are with their kids, who are constantly watching them. This awareness for your role as a model strengthens your ability, as parents, to use the powerful method of modeling. The Online Counseling process is doing the teaching job here: shows you how to show them the ‘how you do’ before you expect them to do.

Finally, a few words about Relationship building: an on-going process that requires RECOGNITION and REWARDING.

The ‘recognition’ term:
suppose your kids want to go to a certain activity that does not seem appropriate to you. Recognition means, in such a case, that you acknowledge their needs before you band their wish. It also means that you appreciate their gains if they would be able to attend and you are aware of their feeling of loss if at the end they would have to give up.

‘Rewarding’ does not necessarily lead parents to their pockets… Rewarding may be a warm ward, a comforting gesture, a thank you note or just an eye to eye look that reviles your wish to pay attention. And by the way: when was the last time that you forward one of those goodies to your kids? So here is another reason to get assistance: use the Online Counseling process to discuss and practice the 'do' and the 'do not' regarding rearding your kids.

So now, dear parents, I can finally conclude my answer:
Online Counseling is a very powerful tool to re-structure parenting style by choosing the proper activities and behaviors that would bring your children to perceive you as their leading figures.

Another way to phrase it: depend on their acceptance and loyalty to the guidelines, not their obedience to you.

What is Online Counseling?

What is Online Counseling?

Online Counseling is the process of interacting with a professional online in ongoing conversations over time when the client and the online psychologist / counselor / consultant are in separate locations and utilize the phone or e-mails or internet video-conferencing technology to communicate with each other.

It is a relatively new modality of assisting individuals resolve life and relationship issues.

The online psychologist / counselor / professional does not treat mental or emotional medical disorders. However, Online Counseling is a professional intervention method that is flexible enough to address many difficulties which clients present to the online professional, such as: career, couples, marriage, sexuality, depression and adjustment issues; this method also works well in solving issues around identity crisis, social anxiety, fear of failing, disturbing thoughts, sense of helplessness, difficulty to plan or to commit, anger at home, work or road, difficulties in relationships, stress & anxiety issues and personal and life improvements’ efforts.

What is an webcam Online Counseling?
This technology allows us to meet in our “virtual office”, which is where our computer is.
The Online counselor uses Internet video-conferencing technology to ’see’ the client at no costs. So in essence, the consultant can be your online guidance resource also while you are touring the world!

Remember: phone or webcam Online Counseling has the same power as a “real” face to face meeting for helping people and organizations resolve issues concerning: stress management, work and family relationship, decision making and moral or ethical dilemmas.