This is a great read in Forbes — and not long! — by Edward D. Hess of Batten Institute at UVa’s Darden School of Business: Why Is Innovation So Hard?

A few choice excerpts:

How does innovation occur? Through an inefficient process of ideation, exploration, and experimentation.

Innovative thinking, like critical thinking, does not come naturally to most people … As Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman stated,  “Laziness is built deep into our nature.” As a result, we are cognitively blind to disconfirming data and challenging ideas. In addition, our thinking is limited by our tendency to rationalize information that contradicts our beliefs and by many cognitive biases.

Thinking differently is also hard emotionally … Fear is one of the emotions that comes all too naturally to most of us—and makes it hard for us to engage in the messy work of innovation. Fear of failure, fear of looking bad, and fear of losing our job if we make mistakes all can lead to what Chris Argyris called “defensive reasoning”: the tendency to defend what we believe

… in order to innovate we need to change our attitude toward failures and mistakes. Contrary to what many of us have been taught, avoiding failure is not a sign that we’re smart. Being smart is not about knowing all the answers and performing flawlessly. Being smart is knowing what you don’t know, prioritizing what you need to know, and being very good at finding the best evidence-based answers …

To innovate, you must simultaneously tolerate mistakes and insist on operational excellence. Many businesses struggle with implementing that dual mentality.

I am always intrigued by reminders that we are all so human and still driven by biology and chemistry. In this article Judith E. Glaser highlights the neurochemistry behind a particular challenge of leadership, management, and collaboration: We can become addicted to the neurochemical feeling bestowed by being right, and we can let that chemical payoff impact our ability to listen, to encourage others, and to collaborate.

I’ve coached dozens of incredibly successful leaders who suffer from this addiction. They are extremely good at fighting for their point of view (which is indeed often right) yet they are completely unaware of the dampening impact that behavior has on the people around them. If one person is getting high off his or her dominance, others are being drummed into submission, experiencing the fight, flight, freeze or appease response I described before, which diminishes their collaborative impulses.

Ms. Glasner prescribes some exercises to help one overcome this addiction: Setting rules of engagement, listening with empathy, planning who speaks. These are good.

In general, I would encourage you (us) to be aware of this possible addiction — to pause, check yourself — what’s driving your need to be right? If there is a question as to that answer, then stop talking for a bit and simply listen.

Reference kudos: Hugh MacLeod, creative genius at


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I am forever exploring, and experimenting with, ways to apply Agile to the development of online courses (as well as other content/learning related projects and products). Yesterday, I stumbled upon the term “LLAMA” and I love it!!

LLAMA = “Lot Like Agile Method Approach”

I am not 100% sure its origination, by it seems to be at the center of work done by the folk at Torrance Learning, so that’s where I’d go first. Speaking of which, if interested, you should definitely read this article by Megan Torrance in Learning Solutions Magazine: Reconciling ADDIE and Agile

An interesting piece out of Forbes — Some bullet points, as found in the piece, are below. Note a few important concepts which I feel are critical to individual and team success, no matter if you are a “Millennial” or not:

√ A priority for them to make the world a better place
√ Want their boss to serve more as a coach or mentor

√ Prefer a collaborative work-culture rather than a competitive one
√ Want flexible work schedules
√ “Work-life integration,” which isn’t the same as work-life balance

What Millennials Want In The Workplace (And Why You Should Start Giving It To Them)
Rob Asghar, Contributor / Forbes

  • 64% of them say it’s a priority for them to make the world a better place.
  • 72% would like to be their own boss. But if they do have to work for a boss, 79% of them would want that boss to serve more as a coach or mentor.
  • 88% prefer a collaborative work-culture rather than a competitive one.
  • 74% want flexible work schedules.
  • And 88% want “work-life integration,” which isn’t the same as work-life balance, since work and life now blend together inextricably.

Reference kudos to: Hugh MacLeod, creative genius at

From the HBR (Harvard Business Review) Blog Network/Daily Stat:

In a series of experiments on choices between sure amounts of money and various kinds of gambles, researchers found that three-person groups are both less averse to ambiguity and less inclined to seek it — in other words, are more neutral about ambiguity — than are individuals. A possible reason is that individuals’ extreme attitudes toward ambiguity, either negative or positive, tend to be softened by persuasive arguments from other group members, says a team led by Steffen Keck of Insead. The findings suggest that teams may be better than individuals at handling tasks involving imprecise probabilities, such as long-term planning.

— by Andrew O’Connell

SOURCE:  Group decisions under ambiguity: Convergence to neutrality

Over and over I talk to companies, work with people who complain about “project management,” mainly lack of project management as the root of all that is dysfunctional in a business or team — but that is never it — it might be part of it, but at the root, it’s always a culture problem, lack of communication, lack of trust, lack of shared purpose, lack of a team approach.

For a taste (or even a self-directed course!) on what I mean by this, I definitely recommend this piece by David Siegel, The Culture Deck: How people work is as important as what they do.

Individuals and interactions come first. Enjoy!

Great post by Jesse Lyn Stoner, Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership, on the distinction between collaboration, coordination, and cooperation.

Often the words collaboration, coordination, and cooperation are used to describe effective teamwork. But they are not the same, and when we use these words interchangeably, we dilute their meaning and diminish the potential for creating powerful, collaborative workplaces.

She shares the following definitions:

Collaboration is working together to create something new in support of a shared vision. The key points are that is is not an individual effort, something new is created, and that the glue is the shared vision.

Coordination is sharing information and resources so that each party can accomplish their part in support of a mutual objective. It is about teamwork in implementation. Not creating something new.

Cooperation is important in networks where individuals exchange relevant information and resources in support of each other’s goals, rather than a shared goal. Something new may be achieved as a result, but it arises from the individual, not from a collective team effort.

I appreciate that clarification — and also her note on when collaboration is important:

 … in an interdependent organization, collaboration is the bedrock of creative solutions and innovation.

Reference kudos to: Stephen Downes

It’s interesting — I often come across a perspective, especially when talking project management, that “process” is the solution — “If only we had the right process,” “If only we had the right person to decide on the right process.” I acknowledge that process is important, most importantly a shared understanding of process. But, in my experience, “Process” is not a one size fits all kind of thing — and “Process” does not exist distinct from we humans who work within it.

So – my priority is always the people, listening and understanding client expectations, team skills and abilities, fundamental motivators, competing priorities — and applying or building a collaborative process around that in order to get things done as efficiently as possible. Over time, “process” can then become part of a team or company culture and from there can be scaled to new hires, new teams, and new projects.

The following can always be found under my “About” page, but I thought it would make a good first post as well:

My name is Larry – I am fifty years old this year (2014), and I just learned that I was dropped by a delivery doc when I was born, and caught on some canvas (a laundry bag?) by some sharp reflexed attendant. Had I landed on my head, it would have better explained some things in my life!

I have been leading and guiding creative teams for the majority of my career – though I hadn’t realized that to be my career thread until relatively recently. I am not happy unless I am working with people and a project.

My work experience spans design, publications, process management, communications, marketing, education, technology integration, software development and implementation, as well as online course development and eLearning.

What’s up with the name of my site, you ask?

Anicca = Pali for the Buddhist concept of “impermanence
Collab is short for “Collaboration”

The terms represent, for me, just a couple of the very few things that I have come to understand:

1) Uncertainty, change (impermanence), is fundamental to reality, and true to the process of creativity, developing something new. Being comfortable with uncertainty and change is not easy, but to work toward that, to work within that understanding, is essential to the creative process.

2) Collaboration, people working together toward a shared goal, is also a vital component in the design and development process, the creation of something new, and one answer to our discomfort with uncertainty and change. A collaborative team can find that place where the unknown represents possibility instead of fear.

This site is meant to be two things: one for me, and possibly one for you.

For me it is a place to explore my thinking and experimenting with coaching, managing, and working with creative teams. I am an Agile enthusiast and a student of Design Thinking – both are approaches toward development which I feel are aligned with what I have experienced, learned, and understand about people, change, and collaboration (teams).

For you, perhaps the site is a place to explore as well, and share with me your thinking, your challenges, your experimentation and your learning. I would welcome that.

Or, perhaps you are finding yourself challenged in your business or organization, around people management, project management, teams or leadership or strategy or process. I would like to offer my help. I’d be willing to listen, consult, coach, and collaborate on solutions to get you and your team moving forward again.

FYI: This is my first real, personal, site or blog, my first foray as an independent into the shared realm of learning and understanding that is the Internet. I am uncertain! And it is guaranteed that this will all change! But that is just how it is, and part of the fun : )