Hybrid Thinking at P&G: Design meets Strategy


Procter and Gamble

When A.G. Lafley was named CEO of Procter & Gamble during the summer of 2000, her job was remarkably ambitious: Make innovation happen at P&G.

To remain the world's preeminent maker of useful stuff for the house, P&G needed to make a lot of changes very quickly and appointed Claudia Kotchka as the company's first-ever VP for design strategy and innovation in 2002.

Her job was remarkably ambitious: Make innovation happen at P&G!

And she did through up-endeding the status quo in P&G's product development process. She made several bold moves that any company may want to consider.

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Your Boss Is a Monkey

This Fast Company article was inspired by a woman who studied animal trainers who could teach whales not to spit, dolphins to jump through hoops, and monkeys to ride skateboards. She asked herself: "What if I used those techniques on my husband?!"

The Heath brothers, authors of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die apply this approach to another irritable mammal: your boss.

Their suggestion: "Maybe you should start treating him or her like an exotic animal."

clipped from www.fastcompany.com

Exotic-animal trainers need a great poker face. Let's say you're a trainer, and one day, a beluga whale spits a mouthful of cold water at you. Your first instinct will be to shriek or jump or curse, but any reaction will probably reinforce the spitting. If you react, that whale will own you, and you'll be a Spit Bull's-eye for the rest of your life. Instead, you must ignore it and appear unfazed, expressionless -- a training technique called "least-reinforcing scenario," or LRS.

Animal trainers have a saying: It's never the animal's fault. That means you can't blame an animal for something the trainer has failed to do. Similarly, you can't fault your boss's bad behavior when you've failed to use some of the primary principles of training. Rule one, as we've seen with the yeller, is to ignore bad behavior.

If you've ever grudgingly tossed your dog a french fry after 15 minutes of begging, you've taught the dog a lesson -- persistence pays. So what are you inadvertently teaching your boss?

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Making Art Work @ Catalyst Ranch

This program combines three of our favorite things:
  1. The Chicago Art Institute link
  2. The ultra-creative environment of Catalyst Ranch link
  3. Our friend and colleague Leslie Marquard of Marble Leadership Partners! link

Article by ALLISON RIGGIO | Contributing Writer | Chicago Journal

It may be years since most white-collar businesspeople went to art class, but a new corporate training philosophy might change the way Chicago does business.

The West Loop’s Catalyst Ranch teamed up with the Art Institute to develop an arts-based corporate train­ing philosophy unlike any other.

Aptly named Art-Work, the program utiliz­es the museum’s artwork as a medium for teaching communication and other business-related skills.

Catalyst Ranch, which specializes in hosting eccentric off-site meetings and events for various companies, developed Art-Work in conjunction with the Art Institute as an alternative means to the typical corporate teambuilding activities. The day-long sessions use the museum’s vast collections to illustrate and teach business concepts, and also utilize the creative working environment inside Catalyst Ranch to further develop ideas, according to Bobbie Soeder, explorer/matchmaker (aka vice president of sales and marketing) at Catalyst Ranch.

“Arts-based learning isn’t a new concept,” Soeder said. “But we feel that it’s so timely right now with today’s business climate and the push for creativity and innovation.”

The first half of the session takes place at the Art Institute, where co-workers view hand-selected artworks and discuss how some of the various elements can be related to the business world. Art-Work sessions are co-taught by Sarah Alvarez, the assistant director of Adult Programs in Museum Education at the Art Institute, and a corporate facilitator contracted by Catalyst Ranch. Alvarez brings her knowledge of art history and visual learning to each session while a corporate facilitator is chosen based on their specialized knowledge in one of four categories: communica­tion, creativity and innovation, diversity and inclusion and team and leadership development.

The “Art-Work” training program combines art and corporate business.

“I’ll get a group of people in front of a work of art and I’ll ask every one of them to say the first thing they see,” Alvarez said. “Nine times out of 10 you’ve got almost everybody saying some­thing different. It’s this reminder that we all see the world slightly differently and art is a really great way to have those kinds of discussions about how we see it.”

The second half of the session takes place back at Catalyst Ranch where the group reviews the concepts discussed at the museum and works with Alvarez and the corporate facilitator to make solid connections between the art and their particular business issues.

Facilitators are contracted based on their area of specialization, and Catalyst Ranch chooses from a handful of those known as experts in corporate training. If the staff is having difficulty with communication, Alvarez and the corporate facilitator will choose artwork they feel will help the team fine-tune their communication skills, she said. If cooperation, diversity or other sensitive is­sues are plaguing the group, the co-facilitators can select works from the museum that will create an environment conducive for healthy discussion about the topic.

“The art is beautiful and it’s incredible but there are skills to be refined, discovered [and] honed that apply back to the daily way that group will work with each other,” Soeder said. “It causes people to feel safer because they’re directing their conflict to the art rather than to each other.”

Aside from simply being a means for learning age-old corporate lessons, Art-Work is designed to help employers keep their staffs thinking in creative, innovative ways. By having both an art ex­pert and a corporate guru on-hand, clients are exposed to a dichotomy they might not otherwise have thought to explore, Alvarez said.

“Our driving goal is to engage audiences that think they don’t have time ... for a museum, to realize that, maybe, they do,” she said. “It’s not about coming in with a degree in art history or being able to paint something or other. It goes beyond that.”

Though no Art-Work sessions have been scheduled yet, both the Art Institute and Catalyst Ranch are hopeful based on the history of satisfied clients they’ve each seen in the past. The Art Insti­tute has worked with other businesses, teachers and medical professionals in arts-related pro­grams, and Catalyst Ranch has hosted a slue of creative meetings and events for corporations across the country.

Amy Shannon said she was one of the first to bring her staff to an off-site meeting at Catalyst Ranch when it opened five years ago. Though it may take corporate-types a bit of time to feel comfortable in an arts environment, Shannon believes the Art-Work program has great potential for teambuilding.

“In some ways it puts people on a level playing field because I suspect there’s not too many [people] out there that are in fact themselves experts in the arts,” Shannon said. “It enables people to come at a conversation from a bit of a different slant than what they might normally.”

Nancy Andreasen: On Creative People

Nancy Andreasen, M.D., Ph.D.

Andrew H. Woods Chair of Psychiatry at The University of Iowa; Institute of Medicine member; Editor in Chief, The American Journal of Psychiatry; 2006 Vanderbilt Prize Winner for outstanding woman in biomedical research

As part of the Discovery Series Lectures, Andreasen speaks on life, literature, science, children, women and creativity. Although they may have moments of self-confidence coupled with self-doubt, she finds creative people as having a natural innocent and humility that drives them to push against themselves. They are not driven by a "prize". Most often, creative personalities are driven towards answering a question or creating something.

"They are driven," notes Andreasen "by a sense that they haven't gotten it quite right."

This sense of disquiet comes from a profound acknowledgment. "Most find that creativity is a gift. If you've got something that is a gift, you don't feel that it belongs to you. That's what keeps creative people humble."

Coaching the Alpha Male

By Kate Ludeman & Eddie Erlandson | May 1, 2004

The best treatise on taming the successful, chest-beating leader we all love to fear!

Highly intelligent, confident, and successful, alpha males represent about 70% of all senior executives. Natural leaders, they willingly take on levels of responsibility most rational people would find overwhelming. But many of their quintessential strengths can also make alphas difficult to work with. Their self-confidence can appear domineering. Their high expectations can make them excessively critical. Their unemotional style can keep them from inspiring their teams. That's why alphas need coaching to broaden their interpersonal tool kits while preserving their strengths.

Drawing from their experience coaching more than 1,000 senior executives, the authors outline an approach tailored specifically for the alpha. Coaches get the alpha's attention by inundating him with data from 360-degree feedback presented in ways he will find compelling.Such an assessment is a wake-up call for most alphas, providing undeniable proof that their behavior doesn't work nearly as well as they think it does.

That paves the way for a genuine commitment to change. To change, the alpha must admit vulnerability, accept accountability not just for his own work but for others', connect with his underlying emotions, learn to motivate through a balance of criticism and validation, and become aware of unproductive behavior patterns.

The goal of executive coaching is not simply to treat the alpha as an individual problem, but to improve the entire team dynamic.