Category Archives: Creativity

Organisational Culture Change

“The hardest part of a business transformation is changing the culture – the mindset and instincts of the people in the company. “

“In the end, management doesn’t change culture. Management invites the workforce itself to change the culture.”

Lou Gerstner, former CEO of IBM

These two quotes tell it all – for culture to change and remain changed it needs the entire workforce to be involved so that they can take ownership.

Change of any kind has some basic rules that lay the foundations for success:

• Change relies upon people wanting to change.
• Those impacted by the change must be included in the decision-making processes. Even if they don’t want to change at first inclusion can lead to understanding then to ownership.
• Communicate everything. Bad news is better than no news! Don’t tell people what is going on and they will make it up. And what they make up will be far worse!
• Select ‘Champions’ that really believe in the change. They can keep it going even after the change project programme is complete. Mick Cope refers to ‘stickability’ through the use of change champions in his excellent book ‘The 7 C’s of Change’.

The first two key stages are to:

1. Have a destination in mind. All screen writers will tell you that the ending is where you start.
2. Understand exactly where you are – not just the symptoms if there are any! Even if change is required to move to the next stage in the development of your organisation and everything is going swimmingly anyway you need to understand what makes it tick.

The analogy with a screenwriter and a film is a good one.

You have a hero (your organisation) that needs to move towards the vision (new culture). But there will be conflict on the way. The screenwriter puts that conflict in the way of the hero – you have to discover what conflict presently exists and you need to plan to deal with the conflict that can occur.

More on ‘sticky’ cultural change can be found at

mappstoreA new MAPP tool for Culture Change will soon be available via the MAPP Store. Watch this space or see what other MAPPs are available by clicking on the MAPP Store icon.


How Do You ‘Start Up’?

Or perhaps more importantly, how do you create a project plan to help your start-up succeed?

There’s no shortage of information, advice and guidance for those wishing to ‘start up’ a business.
Apparently we’ve all got a business in us and given the lack of growth in the economy and the lack of jobs, becoming self-employed or starting a business is now becoming a necessity rather than a choice for many.
But all the information and advice doesn’t make taking the plunge any easier. Business appears complex and risky, especially when you have no experience or lack formal training. So, how to improve the chances of your success as a new business owner; how to reduce risks and make the right decisions?
How do you get to the point where you ‘start up’ your start-up….?
I’d like to consider the idea that there is a process that can take you from your great idea…. to actually doing something about it. There is a way of planning you journey to success; in whatever way you define that.
The idea is simple. Define where you are – the ‘start point’. That might be the ‘unique selling proposition’ of your new product or service or a description of the fabulous shop you want to open. The thing is, it’s a way of describing what you are passionate about creating.
Next, the goal. Why are you going into business? There’s got to be a reason, otherwise why bother? You should be able to define it clearly and also state when you want to achieve it by. If you’re working in a team, it would be good if you could all agree on what the goal is too!
So, you now know where you are and you know where you want to get to. The next stage is thinking about the journey from start to goal and creating a project plan. Planning is how you will make it happen. There are lots of things to think about, but in the context of your business, they need to be prioritised so that when you start to implement the resulting plan… you know what to do first and why.
This is where we believe that help from outside is really useful. Say that you could access the knowledge and experience of other start-ups, the coaches and mentors who support them and even those who watch and research who does what in their start-up journey.
How would that be helpful? Well, ask yourself the question…. This ‘activity’, that people have done before in creating their business, does it feature in MY journey?
If yes, then when do I need to do it? Now, soon or later? And how does it fit into other things that I have decided I need to do in my journey? Does it come before, after, or perhaps at the same time as some of the other things?
These questions can be answered with the team – or just by you – the entrepreneur – and a friend, colleague, coach or other trusted advisor.
MAPP is the tool that can help you go through this process simply, effectively and economically.

mappstoreClick on the logo to go to our MAPP Store for some great start-up tools.

Project Planning for Creative People

Project planning for creative people needs to be completely different to traditional planning.
Most existing project management and planning tools have been created by technical minds driven by logical, structured though processes and where numbers and results are the keys to success. When the same approach is applied to the creative world full of colours, images and ideas there is an immediate clash of orthodoxies.
The creative mind tends to work in alternative ways, often non-linear, and although the desired outcome is essentially the same, project management in the creative arena needs to adapt to accommodate the needs of the creative user.

Blog image 1
Visual project plans work well for creative people – this plan was created with The MAPP online planning tool

There is often a natural conflict between those that run agencies and those that work in the studio, with the former focused on delivering profit and the latter on delivering design excellence – often at whatever the cost.
So in order to deliver successful project outcomes in these creative environments some changes to traditional project planning techniques are needed. It will usually require more conversation, potentially a template plan that is clear from the outset and keeps everyone on track, but most importantly a project management system that doesn’t look like it’s going to launch the next Space Shuttle. Using an easy project management tool that is a visual pleasure to use will go a long way to consistent engagement.
Some things remain the same such as defining the goals, business and creative, of the project at the outset. Using a proven template can then help to keep the scope within a manageable area of flexibility, while still allowing for some risk-managed deviation from the central plan.
Some things will be different however, especially in the world of collaboration which is an accepted, even required norm for most creative projects so the approach can never appear to be too ‘top-down’ or imposed. Even though a template may form the basis of the project there must be room for opinion, emotion and deviation.
The project manager themselves may have to take on an extended role, ensuring that the team of varying talents and skills can work together to the focused goal without forcing the creative soul to spend hours filling in forms or developing budget numbers.
In all cases empathy will be essential for project planning with a range of characters across an agency. It also requires less rigidity than you’d see in the logical world. With these organic solutions, it’s very hard to predict the problems that will come up.
Ultimately, project planning for creative people demands the existence of a few key elements: a simple template system, an open attitude and an empathetic focus on the goal. With these in hand, they will stand the project manager in good stead and minimise the chances of project failure.

A project planning tool for creative people

You don’t need a sophisticated tool to get started with planning with a group of creative people. A large whiteboard, some sticky notes, are a perfectly good starting point.
However, as the size of a team grows, or you have people working together from different locations, it can be helpful to have an online, collaborative planning tool. That way you can easily save your work, share it with colleagues, and add to your plan over time as your plans evolve, without creating a huge mess of sticky notes each time.
We’ve created a tool to do just that. It’s called TheMAPP and it’s designed to make planning simple, fast and effective. It doesn’t assume any background knowledge in project management so you (or Sue from marketing) can create your first project plan in minutes. Sign up for a free trial here and tell me what you think:
Create an online plan for creative people


Do Online Systems Supress Creativity?

At The MAPP we have been doing some research on how people interact with online systems and what makes for good and bad online environments [this post was originally posted on 06 September 2013] .

Our focus is naturally on planning systems that foster online collaboration, but much of the output relates to any online system that is used to support business activity.

What we found in the first paper was very interesting:

  1. People prefer to use physical representations of data to using form-based systems – cards, blocks and shapes are better than cells.
  2. People’s minds naturally want to associate one piece of data with others not by structured sequence but by lateral choice. The use of Hypertext linking is ubiquitous proof of this preference.
  3. People realise that change in any plan is constant and systems that allow simple changes to be made quickly get more engagement and are ultimately preferred.

So in association with Rasmus Rosenqvist Petersen PhD we have produced a white paper that details the research and theory behind these interactions which you can download here.

Rasmus has been developing this theme over three white papers so please let us know what you think.

Access all of the white papers so far here.