Ever been struck by a great idea, but kept it quiet, just in case it sounds more wacko than wonder-child? After 10 years around the traps at Ogilvy PR and 14 in the PR business, I’ll share a secret: wonder-child is overrated.
But for those that err on the side of better safe than sorry, let me give you a quick filter for the big idea that you can implement between brain and mouth.
Last week I attended a MasterClass at ci2011 with famous physician, inventor and author of 82 books, Dr Edward de Bono. He took us through some concepts from his books ‘Think! Before It’s Too Late’ and ‘Six Thinking Hats’, but for me the most compelling part was the last 30 minutes of each session when he answered audience questions and entered into general discourse on the role of creativity within an organisation.
Creativity often gets a bad rap. Corporate clients might sponsor the arts, but get a whiff of it in the boardroom and it takes a brave leader to grab it by the horns and see how they can apply it to their business.
A key differentiator de Bono applies is creativity versus ‘crazy-tivity’.
Creativity is creating something new. According to de Bono, all valuable creative ideas will be logical in hindsight and have obvious benefits. In fact, when you are using creativity to create something new for an organisation, it’s often referred to as innovation.
Crazy-tivity has its place – in the realms of fantasy and entertainment – but it’s not the valuable business tool PR peeps need to employ in their bag of tricks.
So getting back to this checklist between brain and mouth.
This is not a de Bono list – it’s Aunty Van’s interpretation of de Bono – so take or leave it depending on where you think I sit on the scale of wacko to wunderkind.
Before you make your suggestion, answer the following questions:
- With hindsight, is your idea logical?
- Does your idea have the potential to deliver obvious benefits?
- If so, list two-three benefits that would support your idea.
- What’s your gut saying? Is it a winner? Intuition doesn’t give you creative ideas, but it does help you judge the ideas you come up with. Trust yourself when you think you’re on a winner.
Now I’m not saying you need to do this with every single idea. In some brainstorming environments it’s perfectly OK to switch the dial to wacko – in fact de Bono’s ‘Random Word’ tools might be considered in this category.
But if you have time for the filter – run your idea through it – and it might help you articulate your thinking a little better.
Dr de Bono has a number of ‘deliberate thinking techniques’ that I’m just starting to learn about. He’s number one on my reading list right now, so if you want to borrow a copy, go to www.bookdepository.co.uk .
He signed my copies so you can all PO! (BTW, that last comment was a de Bono in-joke … read his latest work and you’ll get it.)
Once upon a time, in a land of misogyny not that far away, pregnant employees weren’t offered job training or opportunities, bound to disappear into a life of domesticity. The truth is, if your best employees were brilliant before pregnancy, chances are they will be even more brilliant afterwards… and here’s why.
Employees that are personally invested in the success of your business are a really valuable asset. But often workaholic-style people become a little too close to the action, get too attached to success and failure and end up burning out in an emotional heap.
Not so mothers returning to work. They’ve dealt with far worse things than an irate customer or client, and a tantrum thrown in aisle three during shopping peak hour far outweighs anything an adult can put on between 9 and 5. Parenthood brings with it a healthy dose of perspective – it’s the metaphorical chill pill the best workers all need to pop.
Work is play – most of the time
When work is providing a rare window of adult-only company, it’s something parents of young kids actually look forward to… and get this… you’ll PAY them for the work they’re doing (as opposed to the unpaid labour of love back home).
Having a baby is multi-tasking boot camp. Try feeding a baby, answering the phone, eating a yogurt and reciting Dr Seuss all at the same time. To quote the inimitable Doctor, ‘Oh the places you’ll go!’
Billability overdrive… get in, get out, go home
Face time? Not likely. Paid pro-rata with enough meaningful work to keep them busy, part time mums get in, do the job and go home. They’re efficient and motivated not to stick around to bill you for down time. Add to that the magic of mobile technology and away doesn’t necessarily mean out of reach.
If your rising star did a great job but lacked a bit of maturity… there’s nothing like parenthood to provide life’s richest education. Just like a gap year for school leavers hitting Europe. Except they’re reading ‘Baby Love’ not ‘Lonely Planet’.
Part time Mums paid on a salaried pro-rata basis present a win-win situation for your business. They’re enthusiastic, skilled and available for pockets of meaningful work. Your business can tap into a large, experienced workforce. In return, your part-timers can still earn an income, keep a hand in their respective careers, enjoy the mental stimulation and be recognised for doing a great job that (usually) doesn’t involve cleaning up any uncontrolled bodily functions. Unless of course, that’s part of the job description.
Before the nay-sayers pipe up with their tales of absent mums calling up with fevers in young offspring and childcare centres going into receivership… before you hire them, you have to respect the fact you’re offering them a second job, not a first. But if you’re happy to be their mistress, they’ll stick with you like a wife.
Carla Vanner is the mother of two young daughters. She is also a part-time Account Director at Howorth, a public relations firm specialising in business and technology communication and winners of the ADNews PR Agency Best Employer Award 2008.