Friday, May 29, 2009

Six Thinking Hats as a Small Business Advice About Creativity Boost

There are many ways to boost creativity; Six Thinking Hats is one of the most well known tools, due to its simplicity and Effectiveness. Many Leadership Training and Team Building workshops use it. Change Management processes often utilize it in order to boost flexibility and 'new' mindsets.

White Hat: With this thinking hat, you focus on the data available. Look at the information you have, and see what you can learn from it. Look for gaps in your knowledge, and either try to fill them or take account of them.This is where you analyze past trends, and try to extrapolate from historical data.

Red Hat: Wearing the red hat, you look at the decision using intuition, gut reaction, and emotion. Also try to think how other people will react emotionally, and try to understand the intuitive responses of people who do not fully know your reasoning.

Black Hat: When using black hat thinking, look at things pessimistically, cautiously and defensively. Try to see why ideas and approaches might not work. This is important because it highlights the weak points in a plan or course of action. It allows you to eliminate them, alter your approach, or prepare contingency plans to counter problems that arise. Black Hat thinking helps to make your plans tougher and more resilient. It can also help you to spot fatal flaws and risks before you embark on a course of action.

Yellow Hat: The yellow hat helps you to think positively. It is the optimistic viewpoint that helps you to see all the benefits of the decision and the value in it, and spot the opportunities that arise from it. Yellow Hat thinking helps you to keep going when everything looks gloomy and difficult.

Green Hat: The Green Hat stands for creativity. This is where you can develop creative solutions to a problem. It is a freewheeling way of thinking, in which there is little criticism of ideas.

Blue Hat: The Blue Hat stands for process control. This is the hat worn by people chairing meetings. When running into difficulties because ideas are running dry, they may direct activity into Green Hat thinking. When contingency plans are needed, they will ask for Black Hat thinking, and so on.

The directors of a property company are looking at whether they should construct a new office building. The economy is doing well, and the amount of vacant office space is reducing sharply. As part of their decision they decide to use the 6 Thinking Hats technique during a planning meeting.
Looking at the problem with the White Hat, they analyze the data they have. They examine the trend in vacant office space, which shows a sharp reduction. They anticipate that by the time the office block would be completed, that there will be a severe shortage of office space. Current government projections show steady economic growth for at least the construction period.
With Red Hat thinking, some of the directors think the proposed building looks quite ugly. While it would be highly cost-effective, they worry that people would not like to work in it.
When they think with the Black Hat, they worry that government projections may be wrong. The economy may be about to enter a 'cyclical downturn', in which case the office building may be empty for a long time. If the building is not attractive, then companies will choose to work in another better-looking building at the same rent.
With the Yellow Hat, however, if the economy holds up and their projections are correct, the company stands to make a great deal of money. If they are lucky, maybe they could sell the building before the next downturn, or rent to tenants on long-term leases that will last through any recession.
With Green Hat thinking they consider whether they should change the design to make the building more pleasant. Perhaps they could build prestige offices that people would want to rent in any economic climate. Alternatively, maybe they should invest the money in the short term to buy up property at a low cost when a recession comes.
The Blue Hat has been used by the meeting's Chair to move between the different thinking styles. He or she may have needed to keep other members of the team from switching styles, or from criticizing other peoples' points.

Six Thinking Hats is a good technique for looking at the effects of a decision from a number of different points of view.

Six Thinking Hats Source:

Dr. Joseph Abraham, Director, Center for Human Growth and Business Insights, Mechanicsburg, PA Tel 717-943.0959 Management consultant and a Small Business Advice provider as well as a Psychologist, Online Life Coach, Marriage Counselor and Relationship Advice provider. Psychologist And Life Coach Online Counseling And Small Business Advice

Friday, April 24, 2009

Career Online Counseling as a Small Business Advice

Sometimes through Online Counseling people don’t always “like” the advice they’re given.

This was the case recently with M., a 31 year old professional saleswoman who had a small high end sheep leather coats import company. M. had recently lost here dream contract in early 2008 doing ‘big business’ with a nationally known prestigious clothing store. Since that time she had moved around a bit job-wise and slowly gotten herself into debt. At the time when I starting communicating with her she had reached the point where she was willing to work part time for others, in a commission only based job. She was currently four months behind on her rent and was exhibiting the beginning stages of clinical depression. M. lived in New York City by herself, most of her friends and family lived overseas. She did have a few friends in the area but she hadn’t seen very much of them recently because in her own words: “What friends I do have here, I rarely see anymore as I have withdrawn into my apartment. A typical weekend for me will be to stay up all night Friday night only to sleep for the next two days consecutively until I have to return to work on Monday”. Through our introductory Online Counseling session M. revealed that she was falling into a type of depression and having all sorts of strange dreams whilst sleeping (12-14 hours). She could not afford health care at this time and did not know what she was going to do financially. The weekend she had contacted me she had simply decided to discontinue eating and stated that she, “did not even feel that hungry anymore.” It was later revealed that she had also been engaging in other activities that pointed to sings of her depression. She showed signs of drinking binges beyond socially acceptable standards; there were also some concerns about promiscuity (with one of her potential client).I assessed that M.’s life was spiraling out of control and the things that provided her with a feeling of self worth i.e. her job, her apartment, her standard of living in general - were all dropping significantly. She was trying to get past these difficult times and just reached the point where she did not know what to do. Three Online Counseling sessions were needed in order to formulate my assessment and professional advice; generally speaking, I appreciate someone who is having a true awareness about him / herself and wants to take the right steps - and she falls into this group.

I had the feeling that M. is having 'an o.k. personality’ and therefore is capable of getting through the current situation, if major changes would occur in four domains:
A. Drinking should be a definite target for a change in her life.
B. Job and Business re-structuring: This economy has no room for many high end products; leather sheep coats are definitely within the heavily affected range. Use your sales ability, and move into another area. You are good in that line, so do high commission jobs.
C. Love / Sex / Relationships - no more and never again with clients or potential clients. Adopt therefore another mission: to look inward for your 'self assets' and thereafter outward, to find the right one.
D. New business location - no chance in NYC. Costs are too high and market trends are alarming. You are single, I told her, with no real supportive social circle around your location. Transform this “negative asset” into a big “plus” and move int to a growing areas, economy wise. Neither you nor I are going to produce miracles that would beat the economy trend. Since I'm not a magician, only a professional, I could see no reason to support an effort to swim against the stream when she could float on it instead.

So the strategy is:
Look for another business and or job, elsewhere in the US.

Establish a new 'you' - no drinking, financial responsibility and healthy relationships.

M. questioned me on the necessity to move out of New York; she was slightly agitated by my recommendation. Our Online Counseling work has ended; the Small Business Advice I could give her was left untouched.
Dr. Joseph Abraham, Director, Center for Human Growth and Business Insights, Mechanicsburg, PA Tel 717-943.0959 Management Consultant and a Small Business Advice provider, as well as a Psychologist, Online Life Coach, Marriage Counselor and Relationship Advice provider
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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Online Counseling Provides Small Business Advice about Team Goal Settings

Recently R. requested an Online Counseling session for a solution to some issues that had come up at his work. He was the new asst. manager of a restaurant and had some concerns about the way his position was being perceived by his superior at the restaurant he worked at.

“I have a staff of either very young girls or older women and I can’t seem to find a middle ground with them. The young girls like to play around at work a lot and the older women are very uptight. I’m trying to find a way to bring them all together. I need to get the older women to understand that I am in charge and the younger girls to understand this are a professional work environment around here.”R. needed help figuring out a way to establish his authority with the older women as well as advice on how he should be asserting his authority to better manage the younger girls and let them see that things had to change and calm down to create a more professional atmosphere. Through offering him some Small Business Advice by means of Online Counseling I was able to offer some procedures that could assist in facilitating the changes that needed to take place.

I advised R. that first off he should be assured that the main problem was not his but the manager’s. The manager dealt only with the people on her shift and in turn R. dealt only with the people on his shift. There had been no authoritative presence established when R. took over his shift and that was the start of the issue but certainly not the only cause.
Working with R. and offering him some Small Business Advice I helped him create a set of operations that would hopefully help the Manager see the need for her to do a better job as well as establish his position of authority.
1. Arrange a very detailed set of missions and assign who is responsible for each one (could be a team). Specify levels of standards (quality) and ways of measuring the work / results. This is the MBO (Management by Objectives) method. It does take some time to establish.2. Use the team approach in order to further refine the various chores. Let the staff be a partner of the plan. Support them in their input.3. Build your own team, using well prepared weekly meetings (30-45 minutes).I advised R. to approach the business’ owner for a reasonable budget, regarding professional assistance in the above process. What I had specified sounds easy, but it is not. Online Counseling to provide Small Business Advice would help to create a professional business atmosphere that would increase profits as well as enhance time and business management.
Dr. Joseph Abraham, Director, Center for Human Growth and Business Insights, Mechanicsburg, PA Tel 717-943.0959 Management consultant and Small Business Advice providr as well as a Psychologist, Online Life Coach, Marriage Counselor and Relationship Advice provider. Small Business Advice Online Counseling Psychologist Room and Efficiencies Rental
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Monday, May 26, 2008

Effectiveness and Efficiency

On Effectiveness and Efficiency

I was recently told during my annual personnel review that I’m a very efficient manager but not as effective as they expected.
What does it mean? I’m obviously efficient but my department head is
not completely happy with my performance.


In order for you to get into the heart of the feedback you got, I’ll explain the
terms ‘efficient’ and ‘effective’, usually listed in management textbooks, by relating to various activities and situations. Not only businesspersons or managers, but whoever is engaged in the processes of planning, organizing, managing and monitoring, has a long practical familiarity with theses terms.

This ‘anyone’ may include, besides you, many. And here are just a few examples: a housewife that runs the family affairs, a student that is going to be tested and graded and also a retired civil servant who manages the budget while saving what he or she can for a rainy day. These are just a few examples.

So let us talk in scientific and precise language now:

Efficiency – is ‘to do the things right’; to be accurate, calculated and structured according to the up-to-date procedure, in order to achieve the highest yield in the least amount of invested resource or effort. Once you run your shop, house or life in efficient mode, you capture the amount of waste and get to your desired output while spending the least amount of input.

Here are some daily examples: the manager should calculate which activities would be efficiently done in-house and what would be better out-sourced in order to reduce costs. The busy mother must determine, working around a schedule, what route(s) to drop off three or four kids active in several sport or social clubs in various parts of the city. The student will retain more when knowing the best hours to study, based on his or her learning style and personal daily arousal cycle. The retired investor should monitor not only the yield, but also the managing costs of the household.

Effectiveness – is ‘to do the right things’ in order to not only meet current expectations, but the overall desired product.
That means: to make the right decisions of what to do or what not to do. To let yourself or others know what direction to choose, and therefore what avenue to ignore.

In another word, you may ask yourself if you have a good bland of MANAGEMENT: doing the things right, according to the current procedure; this is efficiency,

and LEADERSHIP: doing the right things, while considering long term outcomes; this is effectiveness.
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Saturday, May 3, 2008

About Online Management Consulting

What is Online Conulting?

It is the process of interacting with a professional online in ongoing conversations over time when the client and the online 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 managers resolve on-going issues.

This method is flexible enough to address many difficulties which managers present to the online professional, such as: questions regarding job analysis, stress and burnouts events, decision making difficulties, marketing and business dilemmas, difficulty to apply plans, work relationships problems, various crisis situations.

What is an Online-Web-Cam Consulting?

This technology allows us to meet in our "virtual office", which is where our computer is. The Online Management Consultant uses Internet video-conferencing technology to 'see' the client at no costs. So in essence, the consultant can be your online management consultant also while you are touring the world!
Web-cam consultation has the same power as a "real" face to face meeting for helping people and organizations resolve issues concerning

A smart manager should try today and see how Management Consulting Online will help to achieve change management and efficiency processes!
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Creativity At Your Work

About ‘Creativity’ at the work place:

We have some rough time at my workplace, due to hostile competitors. Our boss is frequently demanding: ‘Be more creative. Think differently’.
Can you clarify what it is all about?

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 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. Every 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 point: 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 attempts to show how a spark of memory combined with a good application of common know-how (the genes…) lead to a creative solution that was necessary since the old methods were not effective any more.
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