First Line Manager: Creativity, Never Get Stuck Again

As a little boy, I was taught, in Sunday school, humans are all created in the image of God. I never understood this as a boy. Now, I think I do. God is creative; so are humans. This creativity is what sets us apart from animals. As first line mangers, we have to use this creativity to continuously improve ourselves and our department.

Sometimes we get ideas about a change in a process or procedure. During the change process our thinking may become stuck. I am always resting my ideas, I do not call this getting stuck, just a stop and rest. Like taking recess in school. One idea I used to never get stuck again was to install a white board in my office.

When I moved into my new office I asked for a large white board. I have used this many times to define and analyze issues. There is something about writing and not typing on a computer that is less fixed. I find that my mind is free to think, choose words, erase words, and visualize solutions better. It is faster to scribble than to type.

The white board is part of my creativity as a front line manager. The thoughts on issues I am working on come from my subconscious mind; even though, the thought may seem conscious. I put these thoughts on the white board. I then go about my routine duties when the thoughts stop. I sometimes spin around in my chair to add to or review these thoughts. Creativity comes in spurts. I remember something I heard years ago said by Rev. Robert Schuler in explaining being creative. He said there were a number of phases the mind goes through in creating anything. I can’t remember all the phases; but, this one stuck in my mind; “The nesting phase.”

This nesting phase is why the white board is so important. I use if like a notepad. I can return to the idea as often as I want. When I have a burst of inspiration on a project I quickly write all I can on the board. Then, I go into the nesting phase. I just let it remain there on the board.

I can leave it you for days. Each time a new thought comes to mind I get up and add it to the board. I have found that I get a lot of inspiration at four in the morning, I get up, write this down. I add this idea to the board the next day. Also, when my team members come into my office they see on that board the project I am working on. They have become accustomed to how I work. Sometimes they volunteer their input. I think this adds to my openness as a manager, this is not hidden. I, most times, call in my boss and employees that the project will effect for input. It is easy to add their comments and ideas directly on the board. Once my team members got used to the process, they would actually come in a use my white board to write out a problem for us to work on.

Just because I am working on a problem it is not mine alone. Most times a process will involve multiple departments. I invite the effected person in that department to review my thoughts on the board.

I firmly believe details are important to any process or procedure. These details have to be well thought out to avoid unforeseen consequences.

Remember, there are no simple solutions to complicated problems. I hope my perspective will help you get unstuck; and, stay unstuck.

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About OJ

I am a retired first line manager with over 40 years of experience. In operations management, accounting management, and central operations management. It is my wish to convey some of the experiences I have learned form over the years in the articles on my site.
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