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Case: Creative & Innovative Thinking: Developing Problem Solving Skills Using Art-Based Methods

IMG-20130419-00431The challenge: Viren, the Learning & Development lead for the region had taken stock of the situation during the year, and realized that there were some fundamental issues that the sales teams faced, across the countries. The company, a prestigious name in the healthcare business, had also built a name in the beauty and rejuvenation space. Its products, under the name of ‘Brand X’, were not only popular and fast-selling; they were also used and endorsed by some of the most visible faces from across the world. Their core brand had reached generic status, and, prima facie, there appeared to be a lot of demand in the market.

With such success came challenges – the sales team’s target customers were not end-users, but medical and cosmetology practitioners, who were not as swayed by branding and reputation as the consumer markets seemed to be. And since this was a critical beauty space, there were always fears of misuse of Brand X, or its incorrect application, which made both the doctors and their clients wary. Finally, seeing the success of the product line, many cheaper ‘me-too’ brands had mushroomed in the local markets, riding the wave of success of Brand X, and they neither conformed to stringent test and safety standards of Brand X, nor followed business ethics. This was impacting the overall reputation of the market, and hurting Brand X as well.

The sales teams were losing focus and getting frustrated, since the tested sales models, which had worked so successfully in the mature markets, were finding little purchase in the price-sensitive, highly-competitive South East Asian markets. Viren realized that the team needed a rethink, and exposure to approaches that would make them more creative when it came to offering novel solutions to clients.

With time running out, and pressure of performance building, the Brand X sales teams needed to learn how to think out-of-the-box in the face of challenges, and develop the ability to think beyond the obvious.

The solution: The Painted Sky was approached to run this programme for the sales teams, to offer participants an interactive and fun platform with paints and canvasses to allow for creative expression, towards the above objectives.

For the assignment, The Painted Sky created a customized programme, in which participants were to go through a series of exciting activities that would allow them to introspect, ideate and come up with novel ideas and solutions in a non-confrontational atmosphere. They were to understand the bigger picture, take a broader, more strategic view of matters, and approach problems through alternative pathways, for innovative solutions. The aim was to
• Explore the creativity inside you through the unique medium of art
• Develop articulation skills by using picture building words and stories
• Look at creative ways of communicating
• Reduce the scope of assumptions through precise language
• Develop skills to observe, interpret, process and speak up
• Reduce stress levels, improve motivation, and have fun!!

The idea was also to do something novel and different, that allowed participants to explore their creative side and relax in a non-threatening atmosphere.

At the end, each participant was to come away feeling excited, energized and motivated, with deeper understanding of the need for creative thinking, and deeper sense of aesthetics, and a respect for team members and the challenges they all faced. The programme was designed to instill a sense of achievement and bonding, and make each participant proud to understand his or her potential.

The result and the feedback: The feedback received was extremely positive, with most participants emphasizing on the elements of appreciating creativity, looking for out-of-the-box solutions, collaboration, understanding and communication as the key takeaways. Also, through an expertly devised debrief, the participants brought up key challenges and road-blocks they faced, and expressed how they reacted to situations, thereby allowing for idea sharing and further introspection on best practises. They spoke of the opportunity to get to know everybody’s thought process and communication as critical factors that would determine their functioning in future, especially as the markets get tougher, and customers choosier. They also outlined some key learnings from this experience of working as a team, namely,

• to appreciate differences, in approach and execution styles,
• to understand the expectations of all stake holders clearly, and handle the same,
• handle disagreement and discord over ideation and execution,
• to realize the need to constantly seek new solutions to problems,
• to communicate frequently and freely, so as to address issues, disconnects, and challenges early, to avoid having them snow-ball.

At the end, the participants left with a huge sense of positivity and connection, a feeling of camaraderie and collaboration, full of thoughts and understanding having whole-heartedly expressed their appreciation and delight at being a part of this Art-Based programme.

Case: Conflict Resolution: Team-Building & Communication Programme For High Performing IT Managers

 

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The challenge: Raju, a seasoned manager for a team of 15 IT professionals had a problem. His team comprised stalwarts within the company – champion product designers handling a huge budget and always delivering on the goals. Yet, over the last year, him company (a US$ 2 billion behemoth) and his team have been hit by attritions. And the resulting churn has changed the composition of his team drastically, with new team members coming in as replacements.

While not obviously visible, Raju felt that there were undercurrents and conflicts developing in his team, which, if not addressed in time, could become a cause for concern later. The new entrants were not feeling welcome and felt isolated and under-valued. The senior team members also felt threatened by the newcomers, and vented their insecurity by undermining their junior colleagues. As a result, the juniors were increasingly withdrawing from discussions, and losing interest and passion in the work. As yet, this was under control, and did not impact performance or morale adversely. But as a smart manager, Raju could sense the growing discord, and resolved to do something about it.

The solution: Raju spoke to his HR and Training managers, who suggested running a programme where the team members would work together to build camaraderie, harmony and respect, while at the same time allow for free exchange of thoughts and ideas. The plan was to design and develop a workshop where, over two days, participants would work towards re-building a cohesive team. At the same time, Raju wanted to ensure that the newcomers were made to feel just as empowered and important as the veterans of the team, and that they should build on their confidence and communication skills to come up with ideas and opinions, and contribute to the growth of the team.

The idea was also to do something novel and different, that allowed participants to explore their creative side and relax in a non-threatening atmosphere.

The result and the feedback: The Painted Sky was approached to run this programme for the team, to offer participants an interactive and fun platform with paints and canvasses to allow for creative expression, towards the above objectives. At the same time, it was mandated not to bring to the surface the underlying differences and issues, so as to develop motivation without any tinge of negativity.

For this assignment The Painted Sky created a customized two-day programme, in which participants were to go through a series of exciting activities that would allow them to introspect, connect with their inner self and express themselves for experiential learning and have non-confrontational exchange of ideas. The objectives of the programme were to increase team effectiveness through bonding over a whole host of activities, which were to allow each participant to understand and appreciate each other through exchange of ideas. The aim was to develop respect and acceptance of each others’ strengths and personalities as they unlocked creative ideas, and let their minds free for out-of-the-box thinking.

The feedback received was extremely positive, with most participants emphasizing on the elements of collaboration, understanding and communication as the key takeaways. They spoke of the opportunity to get away from work and spend two days to get to know each other and understand individual strengths and weaknesses and focus on how to work together towards a common goal. They also outlined some key learnings from this experience of working as a team, namely,
• The importance of prioritizing and planing in advance,
• To communicate ideas freely and brainstorm till consensus is reached, before execution,
• To handle disagreement and discord over ideation and execution,
• To allocate work according to strengths of team members, for best results,
• To appreciate differences, in approach, communication and execution styles, and appreciate the same,
• To develop respect for each individual contributor, and appreciate that each contribution leads to team success.

At the end, the participants left with a huge sense of positivity and connection with each other, a feeling of empowerment over their own strengths and capabilities, and a renewed confidence in their abilities to communicate and be heard. The participants continued to come back with such positive feedback, over their whole-heartedly delight at being a part of this Art-Based programme, which was fun, and a lot more!

Case: Using Art, Breaking Ice: Bank Back Office Offsite for Global Leaders

IMG_3105The challenge: Ten global business leaders of a major European bank converged on Bangalore in mid-September for a leadership offsite, to take stock on progress so far, and plan for the way ahead. From diverse backgrounds and businesses, from UK, USA, Singapore, Italy, Germany and India, the leadership team was led by the head of business, based in London.

Most participants did not interact with each other regularly, and were not familiar with their colleagues’ methods of communication or functioning. With pressure building up, and a lot of key discussions and decisions coming up, there was a need to let them feel like a team, get to know each other, communicate freely and openly, and appreciate the roles and responsibilities each had in the team.

The solution: To run a half-day Team-Building workshop, to help participants bond and understand each other. The objectives of this programme were to
• allow for out-of-the-box thinking,
• align visions and goals through collaboration,
• make each participant to understand, respect and appreciate each other,
• bring down barriers in communication,
• reduce stress levels, improve motivation,
• have fun.
The idea was also to do something novel and different, that allowed participants to explore their creative side and relax in a non-threatening atmosphere.

The results and the feedback: The Painted Sky was approached to run this programme for the leadership team, to offer participants an interactive and fun platform with paints and canvasses to allow for creative expression, towards the above objectives.

For this assignment The Painted Sky created a customized programme, in which participants were to go through a series of exciting activities that would allow them to introspect, connect with their inner self and express themselves for experiential learning and have non-confrontational exchange of ideas. At the end, each participant was to come away feeling excited, energized and motivated, with deeper understanding and respect for team dynamics and collaborative work, proud to understand their own creativity and potential.

The feedback received was extremely positive, with most participants emphasizing on the elements of collaboration, understanding and communication as the key takeaways. They spoke of the opportunity to get to know everybody’s communication and working styles at the start of the workshop as critical factors that would determine the mood and intensity of the next days. They also outlined some key learnings from this experience of working as a team, namely,
• to understand the job at hand and plan the execution in advance,
• understand the expectations of all stake holders clearly, and handle the same,
• to appreciate differences, in approach, communication and execution styles,
• handle disagreement and discord over ideation and execution,
• allocate work according to strengths of team members, for best results.

At the end, the participants left with a huge sense of positivity and connection, a feeling of camaraderie and collaboration, and whole-heartedly expressed their delight at being a part of this Art-Based programme.

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