You’ll see thousands of pages on how to create flexibility, creativity and teamwork within your company or department. Owners of businesses will go to seminars and workshops and come back with some amazing ideas, most are amazingly stupid.
Companies have tried walking on hot coals and fire to eliminate fears of employees; some have gone on team building trips to hang from ropes or fall back while others catch them. I’ve even seen overweight and out of shape executives rowing, or cycling their way to team work. How about the moronic theory of being creative and thinking outside the box by asking leaders to sell an item and think outside the box when doing it. I recently experienced an incident just like this, and was asked to explain the value of a cell phone in an “out of the box” kind of way. I began to say the cell phone validates the existence of faith, because it works without anyone actually seeing or feeling its presence, yet we all have faith it will work. I was told by the moderator, that it was way too far outside the box…Makeup your mind moron! You should have told me you want me to go outside my box, but not yours!!! Another great irony is when you’re told to be more flexible in the way you do business. Most of the training out there means that “you need to change the way you do business, and do it the way I want you to do it.”
The Mutual Benefit approach is to treat people like adults. If you want to be more flexible in the way they do business, then you need to explain why the flexibility is needed and how being more flexible will benefit the others in their circle of influence. We recommend workshops and seminars tailored around this concept. I like to use “mind mapping” as a way to identify the effect on others (desired and undesired).
If we want creativity, the Mutual Benefit approach is to set the boundaries of the creativity based upon the effect of others within the company, and outside the company. This is not hindering creativity, it’s keeping the creative juices flowing without the uncertainty of boundaries. I use many different techniques for stimulating creativity, as well as allowing those that don’t want to think creatively, to participate by developing the “what ifs” to the creative ideas of others. If this is done without judgment, ego and politics, it turns creativity into successful implementations.
Teamwork is such an over utilized word. Real teamwork is the essence of a Mutual Benefit approach. We must all work together for a common good. Everyone must benefit, and everyone must understand how it will benefit them. The workshops I have run on teamwork are not based upon a lot of hoopla, it’s based upon the participants going back to their business with a greater understanding of how their actions affect others. Workshops must be specific to your actual business, and if you’re the leader of the event, you must take the time to understand your business processes. You must have people from all levels participate, and if possible, their spouses. The reason for the spouses, is because they’re also part of those affected by the action of others. For example, if you set a price to clear inventory, that causes the employees in the warehouse to work overtime, which may put stress on the employees that coach their children’s sporting events and can’t be there. If you know this and you stimulate a Mutual Benefit approach, you’ll have other warehouse people work the overtime to help the others. Your managers will appreciate this and not look poorly on those that chose to be with their family.