THUNDER BAY, ON - June 25, 2009 - Let me take a round-about, concept based journey to the real point of this week’s column. First, I’d like to share the inside track of how my Tuesday File themes emerge. If you’re interested in how innovative thinking happens - especially for leaders - then this background portion may be extremely useful for you.
How I Begin the Exercise of Writing The Tuesday File
My side-kick photographer notices "the usual" and snaps the unusual photo. He sends an unsolicited image to stir up the imagination of the creative writer (me). The end result? The innovative intersection of ideas which results in the weekly “Tuesday File” column.
My husband Richard is the photographer who fires up my writing. I never know which picture he's going to send as this week's theme. My challenge is to allow the story to unfold from the image.
As a speaker specializing in "Strategies to Think Ahead", I need to keep my mind sharp and my brain flexible. Coherent. Concise. My clients expect me to guide them to the place where "they get it". Most of the leaders I work with, aren't familiar with the intimate details of how their brains get locked into familiar patterns and expectations. They need to experience as well as learn the theory of creativity, innovation and influencing change in their organizations.
My weekly musings and writings based on pictures, are just one example of how creative thought works in real life. I simulate and stimulate my own thinking style on a regular basis. Creativity isn’t a one shot activity. How could I expect others to do the same, if I don't take the lead?
So here’s the process (in short form) of how we build the theme and the content for each article. Notice how the photo is the initial inspiration - the metaphor that serves as the foundation for the final outcome.
a. This week’s image: "Duck enjoying shower on a hot day"
b. Research (What do I know about ducks?)
c. Reflection (What do ducks and leaders have in common?)
d. Intersection of multiple ideas (What is the key question: what else happens in 100 days?)
e. Hatch: (Intersection of ideas: 100 Day Plan Duck! for Leaders?)
f. Experiment: Write draft 1 or 2 or 3...
g. Laugh! (If it's not amusing or titillating, start again.)
h. Action Plan: (Write, edit, write, edit more.)
i. Remarks - comments - thanks!
And that's how we get to the inner workings of how I write this column. Let’s take this a few steps further.
Title: The 100 Day Plan for Leaders: Duck!
Subtitle: The intersection of Duck Maturity and Leadership Thinking
The research says:
Ducks incubate for up to 30 days. Hatch.
Ducks mature - reach that independent stage - in another 70 days or so.
Total? 100 Days...
In 100 days, the egg incubates, hatches, and learns to be independent.
If LEADERS could strategically incubate an idea or two, reflect, for 30 days, and move to action for another 70: in 100 days, real change could begin, and could also be measured.
My best leadership advice? Always think in 100 day blocks of time. This is the how to:
(a) Take the time to reflect. Incubate. Don't rush. Then hatch the central core of the plan. (Let the duckling of an idea emerge slowly from its shell. Savor the first glimpse of surroundings, new environment.)
(b) Work on the action plan - who else, what else, how? Research. Connect the intersections of unlikely ideas. Write it all down.
(c) Set up the standards and measurements, loosely at first
(d) Be aware of the "red flag" moments - do not discard what is niggling...find the texture and context of the part that doesn't seem to fit. Source the danger - get out of the nest. This could be the best part!
(e) Look ahead to the 100 day deadline (duck line) and back to measure your growth as you go. Daily. Take notes.
(f) Start the next 100 days.
If Canada Day (July 1) marks Day 1, then Canadian Thanksgiving could be the 100 Day closure point.
What could you and your team accomplish during this 100 point continuum of thinking and actions?
If ducks can fly in 100 days, what innovations could you move toward if you follow the “flight plan”?
Let me know!
Photo Credit: Richard Chicoine iCopyright 2009