Blog


The Role of Rapport in Building Trust


  Paying attention to and nurturing the relationship at play in any exchange is important but building trust in relationships is especially critical when it comes to creating a climate that is conducive to creativity and so to innovation. Trust, like credibility, is earned and built over time. It is not something you can wish for one minute and automatically have the next. One of the most important steps to building and reinforcing trust is to develop your natural ability to establish good rapport with others when you interact. What is rapport? Genie Z Laborde talks about rapport as a process of establishing and maintaining a relationship of mutual trust between two or more parties. (Laborde, 2006). This definition implies that rapport is something that has to be worked at. It should also be acknowledged that with some people and in some circumstances it is something that happens naturally and spontaneously from the outset. You could describe this as having ‘clicked’ with somebody. How do you know when you have naturally fallen into rapport? Here are some of the signs that you will probably recognise and have experienced yourself when the ‘click’ happens. You feel comfortable. You feel the exchange is enjoyable. You feel you understand each other. You feel you have things in common. You are happy to stay in the conversation. You are interested and tend to pay more attention. You may open up more. You match each other’s non-verbal signals comfortably without realising it. You may not notice that time is passing. You feel encouraged to seek out this person’s company again. Someone watching and listening to a conversation of this kind would observe a certain degree of matching in the body language. For example, two people deep in conversation may lean in towards each other or change position in a similar way. When the conversation is harmonious, it is also often possible to detect similar voice levels and tones. The facial expressions are also likely to reflect the harmonious nature of the exchange. The assumption is, that at a relationship level, the exchange is functioning well and to the satisfaction of both parties. Nevertheless, establishing rapport does not mean that you have to be everyone’s best friend or agree with everything that others say. You can still be in rapport with someone when you agree to disagree or when you challenge each other’s position or views. For many reasons, rapport does not always happen naturally or quickly. This places you at a disadvantage with the need to play catch up. Establishing and nurturing rapport is a critical skill that enables you to start on the...

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Feedback as an opportunity for constructive dialogue


There are a lot of misconceptions about the practice of giving feedback and many people shy away from it, fearing the dialogue could become unpleasant. Giving feedback is often used as a way to make a judgement about the other person or their actions. The feedback giver may use it as a vehicle for telling the receiver how to be something else, or to do things in what they consider to be a better way. Frequently, feedback is only given when something goes wrong and it seeks to impose the solution of the feedback giver. This runs the risk of creating resistance and frustration. In fact, feedback can and should be seen as a tool to build trust and find mutually agreed WIN-WIN solutions within the context of an overall personal development and performance plan. With this aim in mind, feedback has the potential to become a real two-way conversation and exchange. The way to do this is for the feedback giver to incorporate appropriate questions into the dialogue. Asking questions (instead of always telling) creates the space for the person receiving the feedback to come up with their own suggestions and become an integral part of finding options and solutions moving forward. Shaping the dialogue in this way allows both parties to reflect together on the ideal outcome, take into consideration the likely impact of agreed actions on any stakeholders implicated, and decide together how best to achieve the goal. What does this mean specifically for you as the feedback giver? In the first phase of feedback, you can focus as usual on referring to the specific situation and describe the action carried out by the other person and its impact. Instead of then simply proposing your recommended alternative course of action, you ask questions like “What would have been a better outcome?” and then “With the benefit of hindsight, what could you have done differently?” Encouraged by your questions, the other person will in all likelihood come up with ideas and alternatives of their own. Ultimately, this will have a positive impact on such things as engagement, motivation and their sense of ownership. When you ask questions with genuine curiosity and interest in the answers, the other person will feel more comfortable at opening up and you may be surprised at the richness of their ideas and thoughts. The relationship is strengthened, along with mutual trust. When you tackle feedback in this way, it moves from being something that you dread doing to something that you do naturally, willingly and skilfully at any possible occasion.  ********* Why not sign up for our Member’s Only Area? You can...

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OWIT Lake Geneva has a focus on innovation


Maureen and Cristina have once again been busy spreading the word about the concept of Coaching for Innovation. At the invitation of The Lake Geneva (Switzerland) chapter of the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT Lake Geneva), they facilitated two interactive and lively evening workshops with a focus on innovation. Part I (held on 29th September) looked at how each of us can become an innovation catalyst by stepping into the role of an informal coach, holding coaching conversations aimed at generating multiple options. By completing the Innovator Behaviours Questionnaire, those present at the event were also able to reflect on their own strengths and grey areas when it comes to innovation. The good news for everyone is that innovators do not have to be born. The typical innovator behaviors – such as curiosity and associative thinking – can all be learned, strengthened and developed.  Indeed, some of the key innovator behaviors – the ability to ask powerful questions of yourself and others and mindful listening – also overlap strongly with typical coaching behaviors. Participants at the event had the opportunity to try out the CMO (Coaching for Multiple Options) Model for themselves and to experiment with the kind of powerful questions that are a force for creativity and idea generation. Part II (held on 26th November) was about how to make  innovation happen and the crucial importance of harnessing the power of divergent thinking. Research shows that the creative tension sometimes generated when diverse people with different views and perspectives come together is likely to result in more and better ideas. Managing this process in the workplace however, can sometimes be a challenge. There was some interesting discussion about the kind of pre-conditions that need to be put securely in place when a group is tasked with generating ideas and multiple options together. Top of the list for most was the need to set expectations agreed by all about how the  group should behave and communicate with each other. For example, there should be mutual respect and everyone should be encouraged to contribute their ideas without fear of being criticised or judged. The motivation to participate in the creative process was also seen as important. Maureen and Cristina pointed out that not everyone is ready or willing to participate in a creative team session straight away. You might need to prepare the ground for it, highlight the benefits of doing it and clearly explain the process you will go through all together. When the team or group is ready, then using a process such as the one employed by the  Crea8.s Model will certainly make things easier...

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Coaching for Innovation features in Bilan magazine


On 2 September 2015, the Swiss bi-weekly financial magazine Bilan has published the article “L’innovation est à la portée de tous” (Innovation is for everyone) written by Annick Noirfalisse and based on an interview with Cristina and Maureen as co-authors of Coaching for Innovation. The article highlights the four steps anyone can take to foster innovation: Demystify innovation for yourself and others. Become aware of the fact that innovators have certain behaviours in common that you can practise and strengthen in yourself. Understand what it means to step into a coaching role and the subsequent impact this has on driving innovation. Strengthen your questioning and listening skills and apply them to regular coaching conversations at each step of the innovation process. Maureen and Cristina emphasise that you do not need to be either a born innovator or a professional coach to use coaching to drive innovation. You need the right attitude, behaviours, skill set and a ready supply of tested and practical coaching models. Coaching opens the door to creativity, fosters great work and leads to the kind of bigger thinking that is essential for innovation. During challenging times, fostering a culture of idea generation and going beyond the obvious is not just a choice, it is a must. Coaching can be used as the trigger to tap into the hidden creative potential of people, teams and even yourself because of the multiple options that are generated. The article also covers the co-authors’ opinion on Switzerland and its attitude toward innovation. They say: “We don’t think that Switzerland is resting on its laurels in terms of innovation and creativity. On the contrary, we think this country is more active than ever in its search and drive for innovation. Among our Swiss based clients, we perceive a high level of awareness that Swiss made is not enough anymore. Excellent quality can be easily found outside of Switzerland and at a much cheaper price.  There is no complacency about the success they have had so far, only a sense of purpose in continuing to find new ways to differentiate themselves from the...

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Why it can be hard to do things differently


In Chapter 9 of Coaching for Innovation we encourage you to try doing things differently. Doing simple, everyday tasks in a different way or varying your normal routine is an excellent way to train the brain to be more creative as it  builds new neurological connections and pathways.   I just came across this really interesting and well-produced video which demonstrates why it can sometimes be so difficult to challenge ourselves in this way. Take a look – and perhaps like the man in the video who unlearns how to ride a bike in order to ride it differently, you will see that perseverance is sometimes...

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The difference between invention and innovation


At the end of a workshop on innovation which I recently facilitated with my co-author Maureen, I was asked about the difference between invention and innovation. I answered to the best of my knowledge by expressing what I know and think on the subject. Willing to investigate the matter further, I later searched the web to find out if there was a common understanding on these two terms. Well, I found out there is not. As a matter of fact, it seems to me that the difference between invention and innovation is a matter of opinion. So let me share mine with you. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the term invention comes from the Latin verb invenire: to devise, discover, find something new; whereas innovation comes from the Latin verb innovare: to renew, restore, change, meaning make changes in something established. It would therefore appear that invention is the brilliant, stroke of genius that discovers something new that did not exist before; the famous and so much looked for breakthrough. Innovation, on the other hand, would then be the progressive work of improvement to already existing things. Having said this, when you think about how the two terms have evolved in time and how they are used today, innovation has assumed a larger meaning than its etymology implies. Today, it incorporates both the concept of breakthrough and progressive improvement. Conversely, invention has kept its character of a single act of creating something new. That something new does not necessarily or automatically possess any commercial value or stimulate the interest of people who might use it and benefit from it. An invention is often just the first step. You need the far longer term process of innovation to ensure that it changes people’s habits and replaces old behaviours with new ones. This is exactly what you see when you go and visit an exhibition like the 43rd International Exhibition of Inventions which took place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 15-19 April 2015: an extraordinary, kaleidoscopic and fascinating gathering of industrial and commercial companies, universities, inventors and researchers, associations, private and state institutes that present their inventions, the results of their research and their new products. You will find hundreds of great, odd, funny, serious, and sometimes puzzling ideas and a world of vibrant energy which is bound to stimulate your brain cells and entertain you. Even if you might wonder how many of those inventions are really useful and how many will make a difference, you will still come out of it feeling inspired and in awe of so much...

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Unleash the innovator inside


Have you ever wondered how to tap into your creative potential and unleash the innovator inside? On Thursday 23rd April, Maureen and Cristina co-facilitated an interactive session for the BPW Lake Geneva Club. Focusing on the key behaviors and skills that innovators have in common, the aim was to provide valuable insights into how everyone can become more innovative. Overcoming the barriers to being innovative is crucial to being better prepared for those critical workplace challenges when you have to go beyond the obvious and come up with new ideas, processes, and products. Participants at the evening’s event were encouraged to tackle the myths related to innovation and to assess their own Innovator Behaviours. Why not check your own Innovator Behaviors with our test? BPW Lake Geneva was launched on January 28, 2010. It is the first English speaking Business Professional Women (BPW) Club in Switzerland.In keeping with the tradition of being the leading professional association. BPW is fully committed to promoting & empowering women in business....

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Five stars for Coaching for Innovation


“Professional Manager” is the journal of the Chartered Management Institute (circulation 60,000). Citing the fact that few books combine coaching in businesses with the topic of stimulating innovation, the recently published review awards Coaching for Innovation five stars! The reviewer comments on the fact that the book will help the reader “develop a mindset to spark their creative thinking ability” and that it will also support the management of “an innovation centric team”. Read more reviews of Coaching for Innovation (or post your own review) on Amazon...

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Foster a culture of innovation


We like to be creative about how we communicate with you  – take a few moments to watch our slide show with some food for thought about how you can foster a culture of innovation. If you behave like an innovator, you WILL become a catalyst for bigger thinking in yourself and others.   http://www.coachingforinnovation.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Coaching-for-Innovation-SD-480p.m4v You will also find this slideshow on YouTube If you want to find out how good your current innovator behaviors are, then Check your Innovator Behaviors with our quick and easy test....

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Management Book of the Year


The competition is organised by the Chartered Management Institute in association with the British Library and is sponsored by Henley Business School.  The aim is to identify a book that has the potential to transform the effectiveness of working managers or equip students for future management roles. Now in its fifth year, the competition was launched in 2010. Hundreds of books are entered annually in each of the five categories. These are whittled down to a long list and then a short list and then five category winners before an overall winner is recognised as ‘Management Gold’ – the very best in management writing. Coaching for Innovation was entered in the category “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” which looks for work that, in the opinion of the judges, will best inspire innovation, encourage business or product development or support organisational development and adaptability. We are very happy that Coaching for Innovation made the long list – this is quite an achievement considering the number of entries.  Although naturally disappointed that our book was not short-listed, we wish everyone the best of luck and look forward to reading and learning from this great range of books and talented authors. You can find out more and put together a great reading list on the Management Book of the Year...

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Food for thought


A casual Sunday morning read of Vanity Fair has lead me to discover that a new book “The Innovators” has just been published by Walter Isaacson, who previously wrote a biography of Steve Jobs. Reading the early reviews, it could well be that this book will become an indispensable guide to the digital revolution and the dawn of the age of computing. The article in Vanity Fair makes some great points that support very nicely all of the conclusions that Cristina and I came to when writing “Coaching for Innovation”: Innovative thinkers cross thinking boundaries. Isaacson says that it is where disciplines such as art and science cross over that the imagination is stimulated. Creativity is a collaborative process – innovation is more like a team sport than a lonely marathon. There is nothing better for the creative  process than people actually coming together in person in a space that promotes real conversation and idea sharing. Ideas have to be followed up and executed – Isaacson says that “vision without execution is hallucination.” For those of you interested in finding out more about how to make innovation happen, it should be an interesting read. It’s also just been added to my list of books to buy!...

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TEDx at CERN: innovation in action


There was a superb TEDx event this week at CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva. Attendance was free – thanks to excellent support from Rolex. The topic was “Forward : charting the future with science” and the big questions being asked were around “What are the big ideas in science that will help us address tomorrow’s major global challenges?”. Now, I am not a scientist but I do enjoy learning. There was a lot of that – mostly delivered in an interesting and easy to understand way. There was inspiration from young entrepreneurs who are making contributions to global health, saving the rainforest and finding new ways to deal with the looming problem of providing enough energy to power our needs; I was asked to consider how genetically modified crops will play a major role in feeding a planet with 10 billion people and to ponder the secrets of the universe; there was innovative music and story-telling with tap-dancing; and I am starting grasp just a little bit the implications of  nanotechnology and the exciting innovations that are in the pipeline. It was also wonderful to hear that many of themes we address in “Coaching for Innovation” are not just abstract ideas but real drivers for making a difference – doing things differently (Chapter 9), thinking big (Chapter 8) asking powerful questions (Chapter 4) and perhaps just simply having the right attitude and being determined to make innovation happen (Innovator Behaviours discussed in Chapter 1). Videos from this event are not yet available but when they are, I will post a link so that you can enjoy them for yourselves. Meantime, check out some great animated films at TEDEd, some of which shown at the Tedx at CERN- if you though science was beyond you, then think again! LATEST NEWS: videos now available           ...

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Do you really need to be in trouble to want to change?


In a recent report published by Forbes on “Transformational Change”, the question if you can really drive transformation without the catalyst of facing a crisis is raised. A successful business transformation is defined as more than simply adapting to change: “it means rewriting business models or even reshaping your own industry”. This is what the hardware maker Apple did when you consider the role it played in the birth of the tablet computer industry and the revolution in smartphones; or what IBM did, when it decided to move from manufacturer to service provider. Both transformations were lead by the need to navigate stormy waters and come out of a crisis not only alive but stronger than ever. Why would a company decide to mobilise resources to transform itself and face the unknown when things are going well? We believe that waiting for troubled times before moving towards change might be even riskier. Certainly, getting everyone to engage in a major change can be easier when the survival of the company is at stake and when the alternative to change is a fast and premature death. However, at a time of crisis, the company’s resources are already weakened and the pressure to change might lead to not well-thought through solutions. Indeed, research conducted by Mckinsey shows that what they call “defensive transformations (those undertaken to stem trouble) have lower success rates than progressive ones (launched, for instance, to boost growth or to move from good to great performance)”. Therefore, welcome to the ambition and curiosity to improve the status quo and explore new territory. If you take the time to appreciate what you already have, take stock of your assets and strengths and celebrate your success, it will not do you any harm to capitalise on your strengths and good results to look at what else you could be doing and do even...

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The official book launch


On June 12th, we officially launched Coaching for Innovation in Switzerland (the country where both Maureen and Cristina live) with an event to celebrate the book, the concept, the website and of course, to thank those who had supported us throughout the writing and publication process. We were joined by many of our Test Pilots and endorsers – as well as friends, colleagues and our families – for a lovely evening on the shores of Lake Geneva. It goes without saying that of course we missed all of our supporters and collaborators who could not attend this event – in large part due to the distance involved or busy work schedules. If you read this post, we hope you will know that you were with us in our thoughts. The atmosphere was fun, friendly and naturally a little creative too. In some of our other blog posts listed under “Events” you can find a photo montage of the launch event, take a closer look at the result of our collaborative painting effort and peruse a list of the most creative things our guests had ever done. We thank you all for coming (or for being with us in spirit if not in person) and we look forward to sharing more adventures with you in the future. A very special “thank you” must go to Serena Dignola-Russignan of “La lumière du temps” for her wonderful candles and beautifully colour-coordinated decorative touches which brought a touch of extra glamour to the...

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