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Its a kind of Magic
Food for Thought
Creativity and Innovation in Teams
Abuse of internet prevention not dection

It's a kind of magic

Has business really changed in the last 20 years? The easy answer is yes and no. The customer is still there, but his expectations have grown. To quote the famous Queen song 'its a kind of magic' the customer 'wants it all' as they have always done but they also 'want it now!' Speed of response has had to alter considerably along with the quality.

Internally to the business, where have all the characters gone? Every company in the land will remember certain people from long gone days. The tyrant MD, the penny pinching finance manager, the 'off the wall' marketing manager, the shop steward, old Joe who never followed a pattern in his 40 years with the company but his work was precise and showed real skill. They have been replaced by 'corporate man / woman', clones who follow the process, who work long hours, who produce report after report, who will give their energy to your business until a better offer comes along.

The sociability has diminished, time is the enemy and this does not allow for social chit-chat. Remember the days when everyone went to the pub on Friday lunch? Remember when you had time to enjoy the company of your work colleagues? Has it hindered communication? We may be missing a vital link. We replace this sociability with organised team events to try to get people to work together, to break down barriers, to communicate more, perhaps they are the only way of providing the space and time for such interaction. Managers are getting younger, but have you considered that because a lot of the experience has left that they are simply repeating the same mistakes again? Is progress really as fast as it could be? Ideas will come up and those who have been around a while will recognise it as the same one as a few years ago but called something else. We should also consider the equation of experience and enthusiasm. Imagine that they are both a constant factor, enthusiasm alone is not enough and experience without enthusiasm is insufficient as well. We should strive to create the balance. Where has all this left the issue of effectiveness of organisations? Has it improved over time, remained the same or deteriorated? We may have cut cost, cut lead times, cut numbers of employees etc but to measure true effectiveness we need to look in a more holistic way.

Come back to the original question, has business changed? Yes it has, as expectation and society have changed so business has responded willingly or not. Have we lost something along the way? That is a matter for you to decide.

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Food For Thought

Four months ago, I took on two Cocker Spaniel puppies. They were 13 months old so I thought they were already trained to a certain degree. Little did I realise what a shock to my life they would be. I had lost the freedom to do as I pleased, every trip out had to be planned either to leave them or to take them. I have shouted at them and made them neurotic thinking I was teaching them how to behave. Then I read a book about 'dog listening' and this, together with reflecting on all the work I did in education and industry, where I tried to get the best out of people made me realise that it did not involve shouting and creating an unhappy environment. It involved planning and listening and involving people. So I have changed my style and what a change in the dogs, they are more relaxed, obedient and happier dogs. We live and learn.

Creativity and inovation in teams

In these days of increasing competition, it is becoming more and more difficult to differentiate your company and its product or service. This is where making space to allow creativity and innovation to develop becomes vital not only to expand but to survive.

Let us define creativity as the development of new ideas, and innovation as the implementation and application of those ideas. Research seems to suggest that creativity is most effective as an individual activity whereas innovation tends to be accomplished by teams more readily.
What are the implications of this for business? If creativity is to flourish then the climate has to be right.

Time to think and develop ideas has to be given, plus the supportive framework that allows ideas to be aired without criticism and cynicism. Trust therefore within the team has to be high, and the leader's role is to engender such an atmosphere. Consideration also has to be given to the level of autonomy given and the scope and importance of the task undertaken. The leader must be optimistic, inspiring, empowering, open to discussion, allow interaction amongst the team and protect the team sometimes from people whose narrower vision could damage the climate created.

Teams need to have a diversity of knowledge and skills to enable high innovation.

They must manage conflict in a constructive way so that the team can work together. So as a business, create the climate and clear objectives, let the team decide how to manage the issue and then provide feedback on the outcomes of the work.

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Abuse of internet prevention not dection

Waiting until your system has been abused is not the way to tackle this issue. Establishing a policy which sets out Internet access at work is crucial and it will help employees to understand the company position and avoid tackling the matter retrospectively. It should be in writing, clearly communicated to employees and specify the following points:

• What is permitted use of e-mail and internet.
• What are prohibited uses.
• Acceptable on line behaviour.
• Unauthorised access areas.
• Privacy rules in relation to other users.
• Privacy rules in relation to the employer's right to monitor.
• Consequences of breaching the rules.

These are all essential to comply with the Regulation of Investigative Powers Act 2000. If you put this in place you will offer the best protection you can against abuse and have the mechanism to deal with it if it does happen.