Uncategorized

Thank you for a great 2020!

Despite challenges, I have a lot to be thankful for in 2020. Prior to the pandemic, most of my consulting work had been conducted in person. We were able to pivot quickly and continue to provide value to clients through virtual coaching, facilitating, and training. I’m hopeful for a time when seeing family, friends, clients, and colleagues in person becomes commonplace.

Here are some things I’m thankful for:

  • Helping organizations and individuals successfully navigate the pandemic.
  • Providing value for great clients in Indiana (Evansville, Ferdinand, Floyds Knobs, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Jasper, Oakland City, Poseyville, Washington), Kentucky (Madisonville and Muhlenberg County), and Nebraska (Lincoln). 
  • Consulting with banks, manufacturing companies, universities, government agencies, nonprofits, churches, and schools. 
  • Providing strategic planning services, creative problem solving facilitation, leadership coaching, board/staff retreats, family business planning, and training related to leadership, scenario planning, innovation, effective teams, nonprofit boards, nonprofit fundraising, and virtual meetings. 
  • Becoming a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certified Practitioner.
  • Blogging on a more regular basis than before. 
  • Driving and traveling less to see clients. 
  • Dressing casually.
  • Teaching leadership, innovation, and strategic planning graduate courses for Creighton University and University of Evansville.  

As we prepare for post-pandemic, I think it is important to be intentional about the transition. What do you want to keep, leave behind, or change? I wish you a happy and healthy 2021! 

If you have ideas for future blog posts, please contact us.

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer, Certified Basadur Profile Administrator, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certified Practitioner.

Effective Teams, Innovation, Leadership, Strategy

Innovation and preparing for post-pandemic life

As organizations navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, our clients regularly discuss the importance of encouraging innovative thinking and building effective teams. I am encouraged by the rapid development of vaccines and think life may feel more “normal” as we progress through 2021. Our organizations have seen many changes over the last several months. Most of us have embraced technology in ways that we would not have imagined at the beginning of 2020. 

As we discuss pressing needs with our current and prospective clients, we are hearing some similar themes. Organizations are looking to:

  1. Develop a more cohesive team in this remote work environment.
  2. Encourage innovative thinking among individuals and the team.
  3. Develop individuals’ appreciation and understanding of team member differences.
  4. Introduce a common vocabulary that fosters more creative and collaborative thinking. 
  5. Prepare for conducting business post-COVID.

I previously wrote a blog titled “Encouraging a more innovative culture” that will provide ideas for applying in your organization.

We’re excited to offer a two hour virtual Creative Thinking Boot Camp that helps teams build individual and collective abilities to think creatively and work collaboratively. This is one of our most popular introductory offerings and has been used by a wide variety of organizations to build more creative, collaborative, and effective teams. 

The Two Hour Boot Camp is offered through a highly interactive and engaging online Zoom workshop. We’ve all attended many boring webinars, but this workshop includes hands on exercises, discussions, and small group activities. It has been well received by businesses, nonprofits, churches, and schools. 

Participants learn about why innovation is so important now, divergent and convergent thinking, what hinders creativity and innovation, and characteristics of effective and innovative teams. In advance of the workshop, participants will complete the Basadur Profile which is used to help them understand how they and those around them approach creativity and problem solving. At the end of the workshop, participants will discuss how they can apply these skills within their organization.

We are scheduling Creative Thinking Boot Camps right now. This is an important time to start post-pandemic planning. Please contact us for more information. We look forward to hearing from you.

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer, Certified Basadur Profile Administrator, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certified Practitioner.

Effective Teams, Leadership

Leading effective virtual meetings

I recently led a webinar about leading effective meetings. At this point in the pandemic, the novelty of virtual meetings has worn off. I hear people talk about missing the “in person” experience that occurs through informal conversations, reading body language, and personal connection. 

Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

I offer some thoughts on virtual meetings that I hope are helpful for organizations: 

  1. Is a virtual meeting necessary? We have all sat through in person and virtual meetings that were unnecessary. I find virtual meetings to be most effective for group problem solving, team building, gathering outside input, and collaborative projects. Before you schedule meetings, consider the purpose of the meeting and whether the work and/or communication can take place in another format. There may be other ways to communicate or collaborate, such as video messaging (Loom), team communication (Slack), or project management (Trello).
  2. Thinking like an “event planner”: When event planners prepare for conventions, weddings, or special events, they are very intentional about focusing on the experience of attendees. We could all benefit from reflecting on what experience our virtual meeting attendees will have. 

In my experience leading virtual meetings, I recommend the following best practices:

  1. Provide instructions when people log in: As soon as people log into a virtual meeting, it can be helpful to share expectations on the screen or in the chat. For example, you can welcome attendees and let them know when the meeting will begin. You can also ask them to share information in the chat or mute themselves. 
  2. Build community: With virtual meetings, we often miss out on the community building that occurs naturally during in person meetings. Begin meetings with an icebreaker to help connect people. 
  3. Establish ground rules: For larger meetings, we need to be more formal with ground rules. Be sure to explain the system for responding to questions or participating in the discussion. You can ask people to stay muted when not speaking or explain expectations for staying on camera.
  4. Breakout rooms: Breakout rooms are a great way to foster engagement during larger meetings. They can break up the time and make meetings feel quicker and more productive. 
  5. Frequent breaks: “Zoom fatigue” is real. I recommend including frequent breaks during virtual meetings. For longer meetings, you can meet for 50 minutes and then take a 10 minute break. Giving the group a stretch break every 25 minutes can also help. 
  6. Shorter meetings: With in person meetings, it is not uncommon to meet for several hours. I think we should set a maximum of 2-3 hours for virtual meetings to avoid “Zoom fatigue” and maintain engagement.
  7. Waiting for responses: There is value in giving group members time to respond. For example, after asking a question, count to ten before moving on. Internet speeds, slowness of finding the unmute button, and taking time to think can cause a delay in responding during virtual meetings compared to in person meetings. 
  8. Debrief: Virtual meetings are still relatively new to us. I recommend spending a few minutes at the end of each meeting asking questions like “What went well during this meeting?” or “What could have gone better?” We can take this information into consideration as we plan future virtual meetings. 

We have all learned a lot about virtual meetings in recent months. I welcome your input or suggestions on how we can make virtual meetings more effective. 

How can we help your organization?

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer, Certified Basadur Profile Administrator, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certified Practitioner.

Uncategorized

How are you setting a vision for 2021?

When the pandemic first began, I never imagined it would last this long, and yet there is no definitive end in sight. Many of us have found ourselves cursing 2020 for all of the bad things that have happened, but we all hope 2021 will be different. In our personal and professional lives, we know that we will need more than “hope” for 2021 to be better. We need to start setting a vision for 2021 and begin working towards it. 

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

I used to pride myself on my ability to multitask, and I was surprised when I started reading articles about the “myth of multitasking.” You can Google that phrase and find many articles that discuss the negative consequences of multitasking on productivity. One particular article can be found here.

As I have learned about the advantages of clear focus, my personal productivity has significantly approved. I try to start each day with key priorities in mind, and this approach allows me to spend my limited amount of time on what is most important.

Many organizations are guilty of multitasking. We take on numerous goals, initiatives and tasks and struggle to focus on what is most important. It is too easy for us to get caught up in our day to day responsibilities and ignore more strategic items. A survival mindset prevents us from looking at the big picture and setting a vision for where we are going. I think the survival mindset has been particularly prevalent in many organizations throughout the pandemic.

In The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling, the authors urged leaders and organizations to set a clear goal and provided a framework for executing it. They wrote:

“MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller says, ‘Trying to concentrate on two tasks causes an overload of the brain’s processing capacity…Particularly when people try to perform similar tasks at the same time, such as writing an email and talking on the phone, they compete to use the same part of the brain. Trying to carry too much, the brain simply slows down.’ If this is true of simple tasks like processing emails and phone calls, think of the impact of losing focus on the goals that could transform your business.” (2012, pp. 25-26)

The pandemic has certainly changed how we do business and live our lives. Does your business or organization have a clear vision for 2021 or are you merely in survival mode? Have you spent time focusing on what is going well and what needs to change? We often neglect to carve out time to discuss some of the most important business discussions. These questions might include but are not limited to:

  • What successes have we experienced?
  • What lessons have we learned?
  • What opportunities exist for growth, better services, and new products?
  • What is one area that we could focus on to improve our business or organization significantly?
  • Where are we going as an organization?
  • Where should we be going as an organization?

Setting aside time to bring together employees and/or other stakeholders to discuss these questions is a valuable investment to set clear priorities, develop buy in, improve as an organization, create accountability, and learn from others.

These discussions often take place in the context of an extended strategy meeting or retreat. Utilizing an external facilitator can ensure all employees and/or stakeholders are able to fully participate in the discussion and not be worried about running the meeting process. After the meeting, we can provide a report with key priorities to consider. T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is trained and experienced in facilitating these types of important discussions and are now scheduling facilitated team retreats and meetings for the end of the year and early 2021. Facilitated meetings can take place in person or virtually. 

Please contact us to schedule an initial discovery conversation and learn more about how a facilitator can help your organization plan for success in 2021. We offer customized retreats and meeting facilitation in various time formats and locations. In addition, we can include team building activities to enhance the cohesiveness and effectiveness of your team.

If you are looking for a way to establish a collective vision and focus for 2021, please contact us. We wish you a safe, happy, healthy, and successful 2021.

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer, Certified Basadur Profile Administrator, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certified Practitioner.

Uncategorized

How design thinking can help your organization

In today’s rapidly changing world, organizations are challenged to work collaboratively to accelerate innovation more than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic has also forced many organizations to adapt how they operate. Design thinking is an approach to creativity and problem solving that is utilized by some of the most innovative organizations in the world, including corporations, non-profits, universities, schools, and healthcare organizations. 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Design thinking is a non-linear human-centered approach to creative problem solving. It can help us better understand the experiences of others, define complex problems, and develop innovative solutions. As we prototype and test solutions, design thinking can be an iterative process to build on and modify solutions. In addition, it can help redefine problems as we empathize with people. Design thinking can help us solve problems that users need and want us to solve. 

I will apply the five steps of the design thinking process as taught by the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University (the d.school). More information about design thinking can be found at the d.school.

Empathize

Empathy helps us understand the problem of the user by setting aside our own assumptions. Users are those we are trying to better understand. In a sense, we walk in the shoes of an individual or group of people to better understand their experiences. We can practice empathy through observation, interviewing, and empathizing with the needs of others. 

Define

Once we have spent time empathizing with the user, we begin to define the user’s problem. It is important to ask, “What problem of the user am I trying to solve?” Einstein is quoted as saying, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” I recommend divergently exploring problem statements and then begin to narrow them down. Min Basadur recommends using the phrase “How might we…?” to define the problem as described in this Harvard Business Review article

Ideate 

We can begin to ideate on possible solutions after defining the problem. During the ideation step, we want to “think outside the box” and divergently explore solutions before we begin evaluating them or narrowing them down. Most of us are familiar with brainstorming which can be used during this step. At the end of this step, we will have a solution ready for prototyping. 

Prototype

For those who do not have experience with prototyping, this step can seem intimidating. Prototyping is the process of developing a quick and inexpensive representation of the solution. The prototype might be a physical object made out of inexpensive materials, a drawing, or an experience map. Maps can detail the steps of a customer experience when receiving a service, an employee’s journey from looking for a job to getting hired and promoted, or the experience of a student looking for a college to enrolling. This process brings the solution to life that the user can see and experience.

Test

After a prototype has been developed, we test the prototype by gathering feedback to determine its effectiveness. It is important to show the prototype to users and allow them to share whether the prototype solves their problem. This step can be an iterative process with improvements to the prototype. 

We provide workshops that allow hands-on opportunities for participants to apply the design thinking approach in their professional and personal lives. Participants will learn how empathy, ideation, and experimentation are foundational steps of the innovation process. Prototyping will be introduced and practiced as a way to experiment developing physical objects and mapping experiences and services. Participants will walk away with an enhanced understanding of design thinking and how these skills can be applied within their organization to improve products and services. If you want to learn more, please contact us.

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer, Certified Basadur Profile Administrator, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certified Practitioner.