Guest contributions:

04.22.13  Uncommon Leadership 

04.02.15  Switch and Shift  

05.13.15  Better Practice Team Performance

05.29.15  Better Practice Team Performance

07.08.15  Switch and Shift 

07.14.15  Better Practice Team Performance

10.05.15  Switch and Shift 

Stacey's Reading List...


"Tribe of Mentors" by Timothy Ferriss

"Shortcut" by John Pollack 

"Seeing What Others Don't" by Gary Klein

"Several Short Sentences About Writing" by Verlyn Klinkenborg

"The Birkman Method - Your Personality at Work" by Sharon Birkman Fink and Stephanie Capparell

"Creative Intelligence" by Bruce Nussbaum 

"Improv Wisdom" by Patricia Ryan Madson

"Training To Imagine" by Kat Koppett

"Quiet" by Susan Cain

"Where Good Ideas Come From" by Steven Johnson

"A Whole New Mind" by Daniel H. Pink

"Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman 

"Rework" by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson  

"The Leadership Pipeline" by Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter, James Noel  

"Life:  Selected Quotations" by Paulo Coelho 

"Deep Change" by Robert Quinn

"The Power of Full Engagement" by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz  

"The Way of the Shepherd" by Dr. Kevin Leman and William Pentak  

"Developing the Leader Within You" by John Maxwell  

"Mr. Peabody's Apples" by Madonna

"Orbiting the Giant Hairball" by Gordon MacKenzie




blog archive

Playing With How You Think...!

Originally published as Guest Commentary in the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal (April 14, 2014)

I recently wrote about a pivotal book authored by Daniel Pink (A Whole New Mind) where he foreshadowed a shift in society from left-brain thinking to right-brain thinking as the dominant thought pattern.  He went so far as to say the MFA is the new MBA.   

I think that fits nicely with the theory that leadership is part science and part art; it’s never really just about “what” you do, because it’s influenced greatly by “how” you do it. 

As an example, I offer up the routine in-flight air travel announcements prior to a planes departure.  While designed primarily for safety awareness (the what), they are completely monotonous (the how).  And ignored.  While I’m not suggesting that safety messages are unimportant, I am suggesting that if the goal is for passengers to be educated and informed, then the current message needs to be shared differently. 

Let’s see what happens when we keep “the what”, but change “the how”.  Here’s an improvisational take on fostering attentiveness while delivering the same compulsory information:

This is flight #747 in route to Lincoln, Nebraska.

We appreciate your extended patience while we allow the ground crew a little extra time to load the baggage.  Past experience tells us that passengers are not amused when they’re headed to Lincoln, Nebraska and their luggage is vacationing in Hawaii.

OK, the cabin doors are now closed.  Any electronic items with an on / off switch must be placed in the off position, as these devices can interfere with the planes navigational systems.  We’ll all wait for seat 18B to comply. 

While you are seated throughout the flight, we ask that you keep your seat belts securely fastened about you.  We will not be demonstrating this procedure.  The seat belt has been standard issue in all cars since 1958, and we don’t intend to insult your intelligence by demonstrating its usage. 

In the event the cabin loses pressure, an oxygen mask will fall from a compartment just above your head.  The first thing that we ask you to do is “STOP SCREAMING”.  It frightens the other passengers.  Place the oxygen cup over your mouth and nose and breath normally.  Oxygen is flowing even if the bag does not inflate.

In the event our jet-liner suddenly becomes a cruise-ship, your seat bottom cushion may be used as a flotation device. 

Once we are cruising at a safe altitude, we will begin a pricey beverage and snack service.  At 35,000 feet, it’s really all about supply and demand. 

Once we reach our gate in Lincoln, Nebraska, we need everyone to stand up immediately and begin clamoring and pushing toward the front of the aircraft as this will certainly expedite the deplaning process. 

We know that you have a choice in air travel and we greatly appreciate you flying with us. Well, we appreciate those of you who were delightful.  The knuckleheads - not so much. 

Thank you for your attention to these announcements. 

Style really does matter.  

Which is precisely why the art of improvisation plays such a key role in business and leadership thinking.  Improv is literally, “playing with how you think”.  Bruce Nussbaum, author of Creative Intelligence, talks about the value of improv as being “the powerful creative competence of reframing”.  Reframing encourages alternate perspectives. 

I use improv in leadership thinking because of that exact reframing characteristic.  Improv capitalizes on the creative process to help “reframe” how leaders interpret – and therefore leverage – their personal style.  Intentional effort applied to leadership competencies (science) will undoubtedly serve a leader well.  The differentiation, though, is how the leader chooses to demonstrate his or her mastered skills (art).

Whether we think about improv in terms of merging science with art, or understanding the subtleties between what is done versus how it’s done – in the end - it is a matter of thinking differently.  We are reframing and thus shifting our current modes of business and leadership from left-brain thinking to right-brain thinking as the dominant thought pattern. 

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