Does your team have a growth mindset?

In the book Mindset, Carol Dweck describes the differences between a fixed and growth mindset by using examples from sports and business to illustrate how people approach success.

People with a fixed mindset believe that talent and intelligence are static – you either have it or you don’t. As a result, they become less inclined to challenge themselves in case they fail and are seen as lacking ability.

In contrast, those with a growth mindset believe that everyone has the potential to improve. They see each experience as an opportunity to learn from their mistakes and build on their weaknesses, and this approach to personal development ultimately leads to more fulfilment and progress.

True to the concept, Dweck points out that we are all capable of moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, but we first need to be aware of and understand them.  

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A simple tool to take the stress out of planning big workshops

Planning a big workshop can feel like a lot of pressure. It’s often a rare opportunity to get key individuals with busy schedules together. So what happens in the workshop really counts – time is precious, everyone needs to have a say, and the session must be productive. There’s a lot to cover and high expectations for making progress.

When designing these big sessions (or any workshop), you can break it down into a more manageable structure and get better results by starting with the end in mind, before even thinking about the structure of the workshop or the exercises you will run.

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5 tips for facilitating your next workshop

It’s true that the more workshops you run, the more your confidence grows. As you gain more experience, you’ll also find that you’ll pick up your own techniques for dealing with group dynamics.

Here are some of the more subtle techniques that I’ve picked up through trial and error. Although they seem quite basic, they can make quite a big difference.

You can also find these tips in video format here.

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Want to build more innovative products and services? Innovate the way that you work

Innovation is not just for products and services. The best teams also find innovative ways of working together to support them in producing game-changing work.

There are many great examples of collaboration techniques and rituals that successful companies have used to support an innovative culture – Pixar’s Braintrusts, Etsy’s Blameless Post-Mortems, Amazon’s Two Pizza Rule, Google’s secrets for effective brainstorming to name just a few. It’s tempting to want to copy these ideas, but these final versions may only be part of the story. These ways of working may have come about through a process of trying and tweaking that is specific to the company, their people and their environment. You can certainly try them, but it’s likely that they’ll need to be adapted for your context. 

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10 tips for effective workshops

The ability to run great workshops is becoming an essential skill for anyone that works in creativity and innovation. The difference between an effective workshop and an unsuccessful one has a major impact on the success of an overall project — the quality of ideas generated, an engaged team, and even whether participants felt they had the opportunity to contribute.

Workshop facilitation is not a secret art. It’s a skill that anyone can learn to do. The key is to think of workshops as a three-stage process, each with equal importance. It’s easy to place emphasis on the actual event, but that’s only the middle piece. The day of the workshop should be seen as a means to an end, not the end itself.

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How to improve your team culture with workshops

The insights and breakthroughs that participants experience in a great workshop can have a big influence on the way they think about teamwork. An effective workshop demonstrates what can be achieved with focused and purposeful collaboration in a short space of time.

As Jake Knapp from Google Ventures said in “Sprint”, the book that outlines their 5-day workshop for building and testing new ideas:

“After your first sprint, you might notice a shift in the way your team works… you’ll build confidence in one another’s expertise and in your collective ability to make progress towards ambitious goals”

There are few principles you can adopt to make sure that workshops have an positive impact on your team culture:

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Reasons to run a “Big Picture Thinking” workshop with your team

What did you set out to achieve last year and how did it go? What did you learn about your work? How can you use that knowledge to plan for the year ahead? What trends and opportunities did you pick up on that might shape the work that you do?

These are all useful questions to ask yourself at this time of year, to set intentions for the months ahead. Allocating time to step away from your tactical day-to-day work and think about the long-term is a great way to regain some focus.

This is a useful exercise to do individually, but there’s also huge value in doing this with your team. I call this a “Big Picture Thinking” workshop?—?a collaborative session involving a series of activities and discussions to help you to look at the overall direction you’re heading in (there’s a link to a template at the end of this post). It’s an opportunity for busy teams to step away from their to-do lists and stretch their strategic thinking muscles.

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26 different ways to meet with your team

The word ‘meeting’ likely conjures up an uninspiring image for you – talking through an agenda (if there is one) point-by-point, some people dominating, others zoning out. The typical format is so easy, it’s almost automatic, without really thinking whether it’s what we really need to make progress. We’re getting of tired meetings. We have too many of them, and when they’re not run well, they’re unproductive with no real outcomes.

But teams still need to get together to have discussions – whether virtually or physically. So when you do meet, how can you make sure it’s meaningful?

An effective meeting starts before the calendar invites are sent out and the agenda is written. It starts with asking two questions: 1) why are we meeting? 2) what’s the best format for it?

The team at Nordnet Design Studio have taken a proactive approach to clearly defining the types of meetings they have, and have built these into a rhythm. Inspired by this, here is a list of 26 different ways to meet. There’s something in here whether you need to communicate updates, generate ideas, have high-level strategy discussions or even just get to know each other better.

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Designing better teamwork

Research has shown time and time again that how teams work together has more of an impact on its performance than who is on the team. A clear way to increase chances of your team’s success is to explore the habits, routines and rituals that will enable you to do better work together.

This is what I covered in a 25min talk – Designing your way to better team collaboration (video) – at Mind The Product this year. I featured practical examples of teams that had created methods and processes that made a big difference to their work.

These are the areas and some examples that I shared: Continue reading Designing better teamwork

How to strike the balance between deep work and collaboration

What does your typical work day look like? For many of us, it will be punctuated by meetings, emails, chats with co-workers, notifications from collaboration tools, and if we’re really honest, browsing the web and getting sucked into social media. Our days are often spent switching quickly between the items on our to-do list.

But when was the last time you were able to carve out a good chunk of time from your work day to really concentrate and focus on a task? That might feel like a distant luxury.

Enter “deep work”

What happens in these long, uninterrupted stretches of time is what Cal Newport calls ‘deep work’ – “Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit”. In his book of the same name, Newport argues that our tech-driven culture is making insane demands on our attention, and also reducing our ability to focus. But for those that are able to engage in frequent deep work, it’s hugely advantageous for developing expertise, increasing productivity and advancing professionally. Continue reading How to strike the balance between deep work and collaboration