Managers train the following skills in our workshops:
Study after study shows that most projects take more time and money than planned. The majority of acquisitions destroy value. New products flop regularly. Few companies last as long as a lifetime. And markets produce irrational bubbles, again and again.
Humans apparently commit expensive mistakes, even when they are trying to conduct business rationally. This confirms experiments from cognitive psychology showing how hard it is for our brain to analyze complex information and handle uncertainty without bias.
In the workshops, we compare managers’ observations with scientific findings and develop approaches for a sharper, more reliable analysis.
Creativity is more than the artist’s inspiration and the inventor’s flash of genius. Managers are also creative every time they master a challenge. No strategy equals another, no project runs according to the manual and no process can simply be copied from a best practice. The world is so complex that even experienced managers have to come up with new solutions all the time. And even the problem itself must often be discovered first.
In the workshops, we train dispositions and techniques that help managers discover more opportunities and develop more innovative ideas for exploiting these opportunities.
Managers are increasingly faced with complex problems that depend on the interaction of numerous variables. Companies are going global while their activities are getting ever more integrated thanks to information technologies. External factors, such as climate change and sustainable consumption, are increasingly shaping success. Technological innovation is changing products and processes at an even faster pace.
Monocausal, sequential thinking fails for such complex systems – systemic thinking that grasps interdependencies must take over. The systemic approach reveals implicit mental models and thus facilitates learning. It takes account of delays and anticipates dynamic developments. It uncovers the reasons behind structural conflicts and provides a shared language for differing perspectives.
Many people speak only the language of words and numbers. But all people understand another language: pictures! Combining these languages helps us to develop and communicate thoughts. This doesn’t take an artistic talent – simple sketches do the job.
Homo sapiens have a major weakness: the memory, especially for abstract concepts and arguments as they are common in management. Luckily, they have found a solution for fixing, structuring, deepening and sharing thoughts. It’s called writing.
Because this technique is so useful, we learn it at school. However, most people have never been taught to produce good managerial texts. The writing process is largely ignored at school, and many rules of essay writing are even counterproductive at the workplace.
In the workshops, we do not bother with the etiquette of business correspondence. Instead, managers practice to write efficiently and clearly in order to think just as efficiently and clearly.
“Our meetings always provide a fantastic aerobic workout. We jump to conclusions, off-load decisions, dodge responsibilities, push for more breaks, carry things too far, and toss others’ ideas out the window,” a management joke goes. Reality might not be quite as grim, but studies show that groups tend to overestimate their productivity.
A special challenge arises if groups want to move beyond information sharing and administration and towards true team thinking. For groups to deliver creative ideas and profound analysis, the right framework, culture and techniques must be in place. This is what we practice in the workshops.
Most of the time, we are thinking about the past or the future. Mindfulness, by contrast, means to focus entirely on what is now without judging it. We thus recognize what is happening in our mind, whether we are repeating the altercation we had with a colleague or whether we are worrying about a deadline. We also open our minds to the sensations and emotions that are often crowded out by our ruminations. We become more attentive observers, not only of our mind but also of our environment. All of this helps us to become more critical and creative in our thinking, more concentrated and efficient in our work and more open and authentic in social interactions.