Blog Archives

Who loves red monkeys? (survey)

In his work on organizational innovation, @JefStaes talks uses the analogy of red monkeys to describe a new idea. These 2 blog posts outline that idea and deliver results of my recent online survey of 71 people to see who loves red monkeys themselves, in their teams and in their organisations…

I suggest you read the supporting theory first – follow this link.

For a related blog post on how leaders can help bring change to the organisation, check this link.

 

In my survey, I asked people to choose between sets of phrases that describe either the Creator, Pioneer, Follower or Settler change personality. I asked them to choose what best suits themselves, their team/department/close colleagues and their company from the following:

  • I love change! I tend to create change and new ideas myself. When faced with new ideas, I brainstorm to create even more. I throw new ideas and change into the organisation with enthusiasm.
  • I am open to change and take it seriously. When people come to me with new ideas or initiatives, I will help them to test the idea to see how it can work. If it does work, we can introduce it into the organisation.
  • I don’t really like change and new ways of working. I don’t come up with ideas myself. But if its best for me, I’ll do it. Just show me good examples and proof and I’ll do what needs to be done.
  • I am against change. I don’t like changing things, or new ideas. Things would be best if they just continued the same way. Don’t come to me with new ideas!

 

When dealing with this model in training (in the wider context of introducing change management), we first learn about the red monkey model, then I ask: Which do you think you are most like, your team and your company? Almost every time in training, I get a distribution like this:

…and I would have bet money on the survey giving the same results (fortunately, no-one offered to bet!)

My explanation of these results is something as follows:

  • People like to think of themselves as more creative than they actually probably are
  • No-one wants to think of themselves as anti-change, as a settler
  • People imagine their company to be slow with change, overly bureaucratic and not open to new suggestions. Note that I tend to work for a lot of large corporations and I suspect this could be different if I worked with smaller less structured organisations.
  • There is a mentality of “us against them” in many companies – this leads to the idea that “they” stifle “us”

 

In my online survey of the 4th November 2011, the 71 results I got give the following impression when stuck on to the red monkey model:

What do I think of these results?

  • I didn’t see the major “my company is a settler” view I expected (good news in my opinion)
  • Maybe asking the question without training/learning doesn’t give people the same feeling of the model as in a training room
  • Individuals still rate themselves quite creative and open to change
  • ..and more so than other people in their organisation

 

According to @JefStaes the Creators and the Pioneers make up only about 10% of the population. If we imagine my survey respondents (“ME”) to be “the population” of an organisation then we have no followers! This could make for an extremely (read “overly”) dynamic organisational culture!

What are my thoughts on this?

  1. Maybe by chance the people who took the survey are actually part of the 10% in their own organisation
  2. Since I asked via Twitter, maybe I didn’t get so many “Followers” and “Settlers” answering – they are not on the Twitter train yet..
  3. Or, as I already noted: People tend to “mark themselves up” as more creative or pioneering

 

I’m glad people rate themselves as creative and open to change. I only add (rather cynically, I admit) the following paradox:

  • If you ask me if I’m honest, I’ll say “yes”
  • If you ask me if other people are honest, I’ll say “not always”
  • Everyone replies the same to these 2 questions
  • …but I don’t believe everyone is honest
  • ..but I still say I am! 🙂

 

Please leave me a comment if you read, took part or enjoyed this survey. Ienjoyed it a lot, but I don’t pretend to know everything here – I’m interested to keep on learning and would love your feedback. I’ve added to the comments myself with 2 email replies already received over the weekend…

For a related blog post on how leaders can help bring change to the organisation, check this link

 

 

Follow me on Twitter

Visit www.infinitelearning.be

Leave a comment

 

Who loves red monkeys? (theory)

In his work on organizational innovation, @JefStaes talks uses the analogy of red monkeys to describe a new idea. These 2 blog posts outline that idea and deliver results of my recent online survey of 71 people to see who loves red monkeys themselves, in their teams and in their organisations…

To read the survey results, follow this link.

For a related blog post on how leaders can help bring change to the organisation, check this link.

 

The Red Monkey Analogy

Imagine 2 different ecosystems: a forest and an ocean. In the forest, there are brown monkeys. In the ocean, red fish. Suppose a brown monkey were to meet a red fish. Out of their mating (discussion, creation) would come a red monkey. @JefStaes calls red monkeys new ideas and says that they are created where borders and ecosystems collide.

 

Creating Innovation

If you want to innovate, says @JefStaes, you need two elements: Creativity (the red monkey) and Entrepreneurship (implementation). If you don’t implement things, nothing happens with the new ideas. But what is more interesting is to find the right way to implement new ideas in the organisation. Otherwise, the red monkey will die.

Example: Drop it in the middle of the forest and the brown monkeys will kill it (they don’t like it, they don’t understand it, “it won’t work around here”); drop it in the ocean and it’ll drown (it’s not fit for the environment yet).

 

Who love red monkeys?

@JefStaes describes 4 change personalities, starting from the edge of the eco-system and moving inwards:

  • Creators: They create new ideas. They cross borders. They love change.
  • Pioneers: They are open to change. They will take a new idea and test it to see if and how it can work. They can help you to create examples, which you need for the…
  • Followers: They wouldn’t necessarily like to change, but if they can see that the red monkey (new idea, change) is in their favour, they’ll do it.
  • Settlers: Don’t want to change. You need settlers in an eco-system to keep it safe and secure. But they don’t like doing things differently. I compare this to organisational functions like “financial controller” and “compliance”.  Without them, you have no stability. But they don’t like change. They have to be forced to change. Or, like the dinosaurs, they will die when everything around them eventually changes.

 

With these personalities in mind, you can imagine what happens if a Creator brings his red monkey to one of the other people:

  • C –> Creator: They enthusiastically brainstorm, creating lots of wonderful new ideas that may or may not work. When they are done brainstorming that idea, they will move on to others. Not the best people to actually get things implemented…
  • C –> Pioneer: The Creator has found an ally. The Pioneer has willingness, time and resources to check out the new idea. He will test it, shape it and if the idea is feasible, find good strong working examples of how it can benefit the organisation.
  • C –> Follower: If the idea is not proven, the Follower will not follow.
  • C+P –> Follower: If the Creator tests his ideas with the Pioneer first, now the Follower will accept. He can see how it is useful, he understands the benefits. Its proven, so he accepts.
  • C + P + F –> Settler: Overwhelmed by the force of Creators, Pioneers and Followers, the Settler will give in. Or be forced to change. Or move out. Or die.

Don’t forget: Drop your red monkey into the Settlers and they will kill it. They don’t like it, they don’t understand it, “it won’t work around here” or it’ll drown (it’s not fit for the environment yet). In my experience, the Settlers even sometimes try to kill the idea before it can be taken any further. They will lobby against it, either openly or behind the back of the Creators. In this way, the Settler can be the enemy of red monkeys.

 

With my online survey, I asked people to choose from 4 sets of phrases describing either Creators, Pioneers, Follower and Settlers. Which ones did they think best described them, their teams and their companies? You can see the results by following this link.

 

Follow me on Twitter

Visit www.infinitelearning.be

Leave a comment

 

Leadership resources from a recent Kluwer training

Having just completed delivery of a 4-day Leadership Training with @KluwerOpleiding (thanks @MiekWouters for the chance to have a small group :-)) I thought I’d share the email stream that built up from me to participants over the 4-days. Loads of references here…

 

References DAY 1

 

Homework / Preparation DAY 2

 

References from DAY 2

 

Homework in preparation for DAY 3

  • Think of a problem you have (professional or personal). This will be used in day 3. You will be asked to state your problem and ask for help…
  • Think of a difficult communication situation or difficult person you have had to deal with (personal or professional)

 

Here are the references from training DAY 3

 

Homework in preparation for DAY 4

  • Prepare a 1 minute presentation of yourself – anything is fine, we just need some data to use for a feedback exercise, so no stress!
  • Please think about additional topics to cover in group coaching session in the afternoon of Day 4

 

References DAY 4

 

Hope this was interesting

Leave a comment!

Follow me on Twitter

Visit www.infinitelearning.be