Organizational speed, agility, and flexibility are becoming more critical with increasing rates of change, but how do you trigger focused creativity to build an organization that can quickly and easily adapt and respond?  In Part 1 of this series, I shared the concept of transforming your conventional strategic planning retreats into strategic thinking advances. Here in Part 2, I’ll share one of the most effective tools for tapping into underutilized talents that I use when facilitating advances: Whole Brain Thinking.

Key #2:  Traditional Strategic Planning Taps into Only Half the Brain Power your Team Could Contribute

Think back to your last strategic planning retreat.  Were you all sitting down most of the day, endlessly “brainstorming” SWOTS, or perhaps breaking into small groups to develop detailed action plans?  That’s all left-brain, logical thinking, and it’s not where the fun, creativity, and agility in your business resides.  That approach completely fails to trigger creative and whole brain thinking.

Conventional planning approaches follow a lock-down approach of trying to specify exactly what needs to be done and how it’s to be done – and that completely stifles individual initiative!  That’s an outdated command-and-control structure unsuited to today’s emerging workforce or any organization that is looking for greater entrepreneurial spirit and agility.

Why We Fail to Trigger Right-Brain Thinking

Roger Sperry won the Nobel Prize in 1981 for discovering that the brain has right and left hemispheres with distinctly different capabilities. Since the 1990s four areas of the brain have been identified. And therein lies the challenge.

If you went to school in the 20th century, you will immediately recognize that your teachers hadn’t been trained to teach you how to leverage both sides because they didn’t even know such a thing existed (and this is still far from mainstream in many schools today). Sure, you might have had an occasional Art class, but you probably were taught mainly through repetition, memorization, reason, and logic, all of which are left-brain oriented. Words and spreadsheets are the tools of the left-brain thinker … and of most business people at all levels.

Logical, Factual Left-Brain Thinking Rarely Provides Competitive Advantage

You and your competitors all have access to much of the same information and will draw many of the same conclusions, and implement similar strategies from the pool of best practices. As a result, almost every business is increasingly seen as a commodity and that spells trouble for speed, agility and flexibility, and ultimately for profitable growth. Left-brain-dominant thinking won’t help you overcome the same stubborn challenges every other leader is wrestling with.

Right-brain learning emphasizes emotional, creative, and intuitive elements – very uncomfortable things for many business people! But absolutely essential skills if you want to trigger speed, agility, and flexibility because that’s where you can enthuse your customers, infuse your employees, and turn that energy into a competitive advantage. We all like to think we decide based on logic, but in fact, logic is merely used to support the more instinctual right-brain preferences. Furthermore, the right brain processes pictures, patterns, and concepts and helps to simplify complexity and see solutions.

Simplify Complexity and See Solutions

Wait a minute, isn’t that what speed, flexibility, and agility are all about?  Seeing patterns and concepts differently from your competition and being able to develop simple, quick-to-implement solutions?

It is easier and more comfortable – and dangerous – to stick with the logical, established ways we’ve learned over the years. The alternative seems simply too scary and uncomfortable. Yet the status quo is not an option.

Sure, there are lots of “way out there” ways to get creative in your organization, but if they’re not integrated into a systematic approach, they’re going to stick out like a sore thumb. And many of them deliver questionable results. It’s not really about being wacko and creative; it’s about tapping into intuition, judgment, imagery, and conceptual thinking to creatively reframe what we know and see it in a different way.

It Doesn’t Have to be Difficult to Make the Shift

When I facilitate strategic thinking advances, I use many different techniques including music and images to spark new thinking that can never emerge with conventional brainstorming.

Engaging your employees in being part of creating a flexible organization requires emotional connection:  right-brain strategic thinking that activates synthesis – capturing learning, ideas, and input and transforming it into something more, which requires whole brain thinking and engagement.  Strategic thinking develops creative tension – the right balance between collaboration and competition, and the right balance between corporate focus with individual accountability.  Both build on the pride of being something bigger than just an everyday job and drive flexibility and commitment to succeed.

Contact me for more information about facilitated strategic thinking advances.

What’s the best way you’ve ever found to stimulate more creativity in your organization?