Category Archives: Change Management

Creating a Culture of Innovation using the Power of Play

LTP-logo-2Most companies and organizations know that in this fast changing and complex world, they have to create a culture of innovation to be able to sustain a healthy business.  A lot of time and effort is spent on creating new strategies, business models, structure, processes, technologies, tools, and reward systems, hoping that these will lead to success. Unfortunately, ‘invisible forces’ are responsible for the fact that 70% of all organizational change efforts fail.

The trick? According to Soren Kaplan, expert on innovation; “Design the interplay between the company’s explicit strategies with the ways people actually relate to one another and to the organization.”

Licence to Play is an innovative concept that identifies and engages your (5-10%)cultural change talents to make the needed  difference from within, using the power of play. Why Play?

Playfulness is something that we all are born with, it’s in our nature to play. Play is the fastest way to create the ‘soft stuff’ that drives innovation; openness, connectedness, collaboration, creativity & learning by doing.

Unfortunately Play is also something that people fear to express in their serious workingenvironment. Therefore I developed the concept ‘Licence to Play’ that allows people in organizations to open up, be playful and facilitate their co-workers to do the same. They literally get a ‘Licence to Play’, signed by the company director. With this licence they will be assigned to perform (secret) play missions and facilitate powerful playful learning games on relevant topics.

Are you ready to PLAY?

Here’s your secret Play Mission: http://youtu.be/Y0uWLHy-yo0

With Playful greetings,

Annemarie Steen

Does your company have a Licence to Play?

playful officeWhen you look at outperforming companies like Google, Zappos, Virgin, South West Airlines and Mindvalley (Malaysia), there’s one thing they have in common. They invite and promote playful behaviour of their staff. Why? Because they know that playfulness is the fastest way to create openness, connectedness, collaboration and creativity; attributes that are needed now more than ever to create innovative products and memorable customer experiences. And their numbers show that it pays off in profits.

Still, work and play are seen as opposites in most companies. In my work as a facilitator of Playfulness and Playful Learning in business, I see that most adults have a huge fear of playing. Play is seen as something childish, not done, crazy, non serious and only permitted among good friends or on the sportsfield. What would happen if companies would invite play to the workfloor, allowing it, or even better; promote it!

More and more research is showing that bringing positive energy in organizations leads to more flexibility and better results in a complex environment.

spelen kantoor

So how do you get the people in your organization to play more? I developed a brand new learning concept: Licence to Play. A three month program for a selected group of people; the most suitable ones for becoming a positive leader and secret change agent.

Interested to learn more about this Play inducing program?

Contact me for a secret meeting…J

With playful greetings,

Annemarie Steen

annemarie@steentrain.nl

Hospitality Industry struggles with Experience Economy

When we travel, we all have hotelexperienceto sleep. Why are we prepared to pay € 25 for a night sleep in a hostel, € 50 for a bed & breakfast, € 100 for a three star hotel and € 500 for an exclusive hotel? Where we choose to sleep differs and varies with our travelpurpose (business, holiday, romantic weekend), our budget and our previous experience or reviews from friends or total strangers on a website. This is in a nutshell what the Experience Economy (Pine & Gilmore, 1999) is. We are prepared to pay a higher price when the added value and experience is perceived to be higher. “We are on the threshold, say authors Pine and Gilmore, of the Experience Economy, a new economic era in which all businesses must orchestrate memorable events for their customers.”

wow experienceBut when do we become loyal clients that come back? And when do we become ambassadors for a hotel or restaurant and tell our friends about our experience? Only when the reality is perceived better than what we expected to get. Only when we got the WOW-Experience. And this is where the struggle for high end luxury hotels and restaurants begins. The expectations are allready very high when the guest comes in. Ofcourse a hotelguest of a luxury hotel will expect to get a spacious room that’s superclean, with a nice view, well designed interiors, good and various choices of food, a beautiful spa and swimmingpool and friendly and professional staff. So, what will give him this extra memorable experience? Is it a well orchestrated show with lights and music, an unexpected flashmob of dancing staff, a singing waiter on rollerblades? I don’t think so.

I believe the Hospitality Industry focusses too much on design and concepts. Ofcourse I was stunned with the view on top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore, the first time I saw the 150m wide infinity pool, but will this experience bring me back the next time? No, I don’t believe so. So what will?

real-fake smileIt’s connecting with the people and the atmosphere that they bring into the hotel that makes the difference. And with connecting I don’t mean the professional and helpful smile I get when I ask a question. It’s connecting from heart-to-heart. From one human being to another. Sharing a joke or a laugh, a concerned look when you share that your child is sick at home. The singing waiter can be a memorable experience to come back for, if the singing waiter is genuinely enjoying what he’s doing, radiating with fun and connecting to others, in stead of doing a daily routine like the pianoplayer in the lobby. I believe orchestrating experiences to deliver something new, only lasts for a short time and doesn’t create the loyal guest that returns and returns. We all know and feel that a theatre play is not real, however nicely performed. Or are you the kind of person that likes to see the same show over and over again? It’s fake or real that makes a the difference. Can you tell the difference between a real and fake smile in the picture? (Pine & Gilmore also realized this when they wrote their other book “Authenticity”, 2007)

Still, stafftraining for Hospitality Industry is often focussing on doing things right and in the same (our) way. A very logical left brain way of doing things. This results in professionalism with a bit of a distance, easy to measure and control,but leaving very little room for acting out of the box.

So how to get this genuine personal touch into the picture?

Work on well-being, happiness and playfulness with your staff. Playful Training will allow them to open up, connect with others from their own selves and dare to come up with creative ideas to engage with the guests in new and memorable ways that come from their hearts.

Let me hear what you think.

Playfully yours,

Annemarie Steen (Playful Facilitator & Speaker of 21st century Leadership Skills)

Look what happened after a two day Joy-Care Leadership workshop that I delivered with www.ha-p.com for the management of Marina Bay Sands Hotel Singapore. A few participants dared to take the initiative of organizing this ‘Coffee Break Dance’ where colleagues share the fun of leaving their comfortzone. Do you think the laughter is fake (orchestrated) or genuine (from the heart)?

Creating Open & Collaborative Cultures through Play

worrySince 2004 IBM conducts every two years a Global CEO Survey among global business and public sector leaders to research what keeps them busy (at night in bed). The survey consists of in-person interviews with (in 2012) over 1700 CEO’s worldwide.

More than half of all CEO’s see Human Capital, Customer Relationships and Innovation as key sources of sustained economic value (report 2012).

The findings (2010 & 2012) show a fast growing need for some critical capabilities of employees, in order to deal with the complexity of operating in an increasingly volatile and uncertain world. These include; creativity and creative leadership, collaborativeness, connectedness, communication and flexibility.

To foster these capabilities “CEO’s are creating more Open & Collaborative cultures – encouraging employees to connect, learn from each other and thrive in a world of rapid change. The emphasis on Openness is even higher among Outperforming organizations(*) – and they have the changemanagement-capabilities to make it happen.” (2012)

So where does Play fit into this?

To create a more Open, Collaborative & Innovative culture, it’s vital that people make the shift from their serious closed mode into their open mode. And the fastest way to get people into their open mode is through humor, laughter and fun, all essential parts of Playfulness. As John Cleese tells his students in this lecture; “The essence of Playfulness is openness to anything”.

Playfulness & Fear don’t go together well. You cannot be playful if you’re frightened of making a mistake, or of being ridiculed by others. So, in creating Openness through Play, creating a safe learningenvironment is essential. I also have my participants acknowledge their fear first before inviting them to play.

What I love most about my work as a Playful Learning facilitator, is when I see the magic power of Playfulness do her work. People take the step out of their comfortzone into their (natural born) Playzone and amazingly fast make the shift towards openness, connectedness, joy, spontaneity and creativity.

I see Play as a vital ingredient in creating and nurturing a 21st century succesful Company Culture. And I’m very curious to hear your opinions about this…

Playfully yours,

Annemarie Steen

(*) Outperfomers are organizations that surpass industry peers in terms of  revenue growth and profitability.

Interested in the findings & reports?

2010: http://public.dhe.ibm.com/common/ssi/ecm/en/gbe03297usen/GBE03297USEN.PDF

2012: http://www.brandchannel.com/images/papers/536_IBMGlobalCEOs.PDF

How to change things, when change is hard?

“People don’t resist change, they resist being changed”

switchIn the book “Switch, how to change things, when change is hard” from Chip & Dan Heath (in dutch “Switch, veranderen als verandering moeilijk is”), they have some interesting insights and practical advice on change management.

There’s an inspiring story in the book about Jerry Sternin, a guy that worked for an international aid organization ‘Save the Children’. In 1990 the government of Vietnam invited him to set up an office in Vietnam and help to conquer undernourishment. He got the message to make a difference in only six months. Sternin had read as many as possible about the problem of undernourishment. There were many interconnected issues like bad hygiene, poverty, no clean water available, the lack of knowledge about nutricion of the people liviing in villages. Sternin thought this knowledge was TBU (True but useless). “There are millions of children that can’t wait for those problems to be solved.”, he said. To end poverty, clean the water and construct new piping, it would never happen. And certainly not within six months, with almost no money to spend.

Sternin had a better idea. He traveled to the villages and met with groups of mothers. He told the mothers to go out and measure and weigh all children in the village. Then they looked at the results. He asked them; “Have you seen children that were poor like the rest, but were bigger and healthier than the rest?” The women replied “Yes”. So Sternins’ strategy was to look for bright spots in the community. If some children were healthy despite their poverty, undernourishment was not inevitable.

He said: “let’s not sit still and analyse undernourishment. Let’s find out what the mothers of these bright spots do?”

It turned out that the bright spot mothers used the same amount of rice than the other mothers, but they feeded their children 4 times a day from it and not the usual two times. Also they were more active in feeding there children, by hand if necesary. And a big difference was that the bright spot mothers mixed small shrimps and crabmeat, that they found in the ricefields with the rice. And also the leaves of a sweet potatoeplant, that the other villagers thought of as inferior food.

He then invited the bright spot mothers to teach their way of cooking to the other mothers in cookinggroups.

By finding the bright spots, the solution to the problem was a local one, that was much more accepted than a solution from outside.

Six months after Sternin came to this Vietnamese village, 65% of the children was better fed, and it stayed that way. The program reached 2.2 million Vietnamese children in 265 villages and made a huge difference.

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What I like about this story is that often organizations reach for external help (consultants, researchers, interim management) in dealing with their problems. But these external solutions often encounter resistance with the people. In this story, the solution comes from within. It is allready there. The only thing you have to do, is to find these bright spots and learn from them.

In creating a more positive company culture, I look for the uplifting people that energize the rest, and put them into the light. Often they come from surprising positions in the organization, like the secretary or a maintanance person. I tell them they are the (sometimes secret) positive change agents, that bring joy and playfulness to the workplace. By acknowledging them and allowing them to be their natural positive selves, they invoke positive change in the organization. A change that is needed to answer to today’s challenging world.

With playful greetings,
Annemarie Steen