I’ve just recently returned from an amazing, invitation only, creative solutions event for organisational development professionals held in Hong Kong. The concept, a pilot program called Brains on the Beach, brought together top consultants and game changers from across the Asian & North American Pacific Rim to compete to solve a business challenge. It was a chance for all of us organisational consultants to walk our talk…I knew it would be interesting.
With cameras rolling from the start we were quickly broken into four teams of four. We were then provided limited time and resources to solve some very real & pressing business challenges for a client we had yet to learn of. Our client turned out to be one of the most prestigious hotels on the planet, the Peninsula Hong Kong. As team captain I knew that if we were going to give the client something of real value we had to rely on each other’s best thinking. No grandstanding, no egos, just straight up focus on the issues at hand. I could see no other way.
Heat Turned to High
After meeting the Peninsula’s executive team the evening before, we were given the following day to come up with a kick-butt strategy and pitch. I was determined to allow our team to reach solutions organically and it worked like a charm. My fellow teammates were highly skilled professionals who consult throughout Asia. My job, first and foremost, was to engage their brains maximally. After quick introductions, we quickly decided on what the final outcome needed to be. We then set about defining what the landmarks would be for each hour to get us there. The rest fell into place.
Our team had no conflict. Why? Simply because everyone was given a voice. We all knew what our vision was and we were all clear on the scarce time that we had to reach it. Nothing like a deadline to keep everyone focused.
What Was Re-confirmed
- Leadership is about being a team player, no greater or less than anyone else on the team.
- Leadership is about encouraging everyone to have a voice and that is critical even in high pressure situations.
- Civility goes a long way and is, in fact, required to get the best from others.
- Rigidity around one’s ideas is the kiss of death for other’s creative engines.
- Amazing solutions happen organically when the creative processes of all in the room are allowed to freely flow.
- Belief in other’s abilities to solve tough problems is essential to enlisting their best efforts.
- Walking the talk feels good. Real good.
All of this together allowed our team to generate some great solutions for the client. While the client did not select my team’s solutions as number one, we came a close second. Was this disappointing? Not at all. The learning was rich for all of us and it is these pearls that we shall take forward to our next challenge.