Teaching Lateral Thinking to Leaders
Everyone can greatly benefit from improved lateral thinking skills, and no one more than entrepreneurs, managers and CEOs. This is exactly where motivational speaker and author, Paul Sloane focuses his energy. In this week’s Hello There Paul tells IM about his experience and asks for your input on his most recent project.
What is innovation management to you?
Innovation is too important to be left to chance. It requires leadership and management. The leader has to set the vision for innovation, build a culture that supports innovation and put in place the processes and resources to enable innovation.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
I give workshops on lateral thinking, creativity, innovation and leadership. I often work with CEOs which is where I can have the most influence as they can create or destroy a culture of innovation with their words and actions. I try to give them practical tools and relevant examples to show how they can set the vision, build the culture and establish the processes to embed innovation in their organisations. I sometimes speak to groups of students or schoolchildren about lateral thinking and how to approach problems from new directions; I find these sessions highly enjoyable because the students are so open-minded and enthusiastic.
And the most frustrating parts?
Sometimes I work with mid-level executives who really want to innovate and try new things. They complain that they are held back by top-level executives who pay lip-service to innovation but actually control and micro-manage. Many leaders still don’t get it – if you want innovation you have to empower people to try new things and be prepared to handle risk and failure along the way.
What’s your next big challenge?
I have just released a new book, A Guide to Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing. The book is an example of crowdsourcing. Many leading experts contributed chapters and I edited the book. The challenge is to harness all their different talents to promote the book and the important messages it contains. Do you have any ideas?
Paul Sloane is an entertaining, thought provoking, motivational speaker and a recognized expert on innovation, lateral thinking and leadership. His workshops provide practical techniques to improve leadership and innovation.
Paul took a first in Engineering at Cambridge. He joined IBM where he came top of Sales School. He was part of the team that launched the IBM PC in the UK. He went on to be MD of the database leaders, Ashton-Tate. He became VP International for MathSoft Inc. and CEO of Monactive Ltd. He heads the BQF Innovation Unit.
Paul is the author of 20 books on lateral puzzles, creativity, innovation and leadership. Over 2 million copies of his books have been sold. His articles on innovation and leadership have appeared in leading business publications. His inspirational talks on innovation, creative thinking and leadership, described as ‘rocket fuel for the business brain’, have proved popular with conference audiences in Europe, USA, South Africa and Asia.