Let’s get practical. If you’re convinced there’s a opportunity around sustainability, what do you do? One way forward is to come up with ideas. Here’s a great little book by James Young – A Technique for Producing Ideas. In brief, it suggests there are five important stages to developing ideas:
- gather raw material;
- digest that material;
- let your subconscious go to work;
- let ideas appear;
- refine and filter.
Then what? Personally I believe in collaboration as the key to making anything worthwhile happen. Another great book is Organising Genius by Warren Bennis (the leadership guru). The book tells the story of some amazing collaborative projects, including those at Disney, PARC and the Manhattan Project, and draws out lessons on what made them successful (its subtitle is “the secrets of creative collaboration”).
I won’t list them all – but these are some I really agree with, partly based on my own experience in “great groups”. Great groups:
- Know that talent is key – great groups quite simply contain great people.
- Value and nurture leadership – great leaders grow great groups, but great groups grow great leaders too.
- Have passion, and mission. They believe they are “on a mission from God”.
- Are isolated, yet connected too. This is why, for me, the “skunk works” idea works so well.
- Believe they are underdogs, and usually have an “enemy”. When I worked with BBC News Online the group demonised and respected CNN.
- Are optimistic. I prefer to say realistic – along the lines of the Stockdale Paradox. But basically I agree with the great man Bennis.
- Put people in the right role.
- Enable people – people are given what they need and freed from what they don’t.
- Are focussed on concrete results – practical outputs.
- Value work as its own reward.