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Growth Leadership

Strategic Tools For Innovation, Creativity & Growth

The Five Pillars of Growth Leadership:


  • Challenging the status quo with positive innovation.

  • Inspiring a vision and set of goals that result in mutual commitment from all employees.

  • Building teams that are empowered and are interdependent upon one other to succeed.

  • Modeling the behaviors you espouse to others.

  • Encouraging the hearts of employees so that they work through difficult times, striving to achieve the mutual vision and goals set before them.

Four strategic growth tools:


  • System Thinking

  • Positive People Management

  • Creative Problem Solving

  • Continuous Process Improvement

             Readers Comments: "I Think, You Think, We All Think Differently"


Brent, CMP, Marketing Director - The book is bigger than any one of us. It helps people see not just generational differences, but also cultural differences, something that Millennials and Gen Z care about profoundly: sensitivity to identity! The book’s real-life examples and contexts are priceless, “context is power.”

Unlocking Employee Potential with Creative Problem Solving


Creative Problem Solving (CPS) has its roots in marketing and advertising.  Alex Osborn, the founder of the Creative Education Foundation, was an advertising executive and created creating thinking and brainstorming.  In the 1920s and ‘30s, he and three gentlemen owned the largest advertising agency in the United States, BBDO.  You might have heard of it, today it generates over $15 billion in revenue and goes by the name of the Omnicom Group of Companies.  CPS uses scientific research and behavioral psychology to create innovative ways to solve problems.  Brainstorming was just the first.  There are many augmentations and new strategies.  Some I’m sure you’ve heard of like SWOT analysis, SMART goal creation, Blue Ocean strategies, and Mind Mapping. 


A widely adopted method for high-performance team-building is the FourSight Creative method, which we mentioned earlier in Chapter Six on Transformation Leadership.  IBM, NASA, USBank, L'Oréal, Nike, and other mega organizations use this method to assign roles within workgroups in a way that bolsters creativity, innovation, and project success.  Its strategy identifies the way employees think and places them into four categories of thinker types; Clarifiers, Ideators, Developers, and Implementers.  Armed with this knowledge, leaders can intelligently assign roles within workgroups.  The FourSight Creative method is proving to be a game-changer in problem-solving and team performance management. Resources: (Omnicom Group, 2019), (FourSight, 2018)

System Thinking Drives Innovation


System thinking is a way of looking at how an organization or any complex entity works.  For instance, your body consists of many systems, such as pulmonary, nervous, digestive, and others.  If we listen to our doctors and fitness coaches’ advice, we will exercise our minds and bodies, eat healthily, and be mentally alert.  Our biological and mental systems work together to keep us running efficiently and effectively.  Another way to help understand systems thinking might be to go to YouTube and search for “3D Movie – How a car engine works.”  Did you watch the short video or one you like?  An engine has many parts; each part has a role; when all the pieces are performing their tasks, they form a functioning system that transforms energy into power.


System thinking looks at the whole system, its parts, transforming functions, and outcomes, i.e., holistically.  The system is the sum of its interconnected parts.  If the systems’ components are not maintained and updated, they become outdated, worn, and eventually irrelevant as technologies advance.  System thinking is the foundation for understanding how to create business value.  As a people leader, it is your role to understand the system and how those you lead fit into it and interact with each other.  System thinking empowers leaders to see the whole picture and make better decisions. 


There are two major types of organizational system thinking; open and closed.  Open-system thinkers are aware of what’s happening around them.  Their eyes are wide open to the changes that take place in the surrounding business environment and react to changes.  Closed-system thinkers are the opposite.  They function in bubbles, closed off from outside considerations and influences, and therefore see no need to change.

Open Versus Closed System Thinking


In his classic management book, “Images of Organizations,” Gareth Morgan, describes types of organizations through metaphors.  Several of the metaphors he uses include “corporate blindness, organizational psychic prisons, and instruments of domination.” (Morgan, 2006).  Corporate blindness and psychic (mental) prisons result when a company thinks of itself as a closed system.  Closed systems do not consider changes in the business environment around them.  We can see this effect in the manufacturing industry in America.  While other nations adopted TQM, Six Sigma, and customer-centric, continuous-improvement methodologies, many industries ignored the threat of global competition.  Closed systems do not welcome input from outside resources. 


Many closed-system thinkers develop a “we know it all” attitude, and therefore do not consult those who are “lower in the ranks” or external expert resources.  Closed systems produce a corporate culture and way of thinking that does not embrace the freedom of thought or novel ideas.  Phrases such as “we’ve always done it this way” and “don’t rock the boat” are typical of companies that have created psychic prisons.  Mental prisons result when leaders discourage employees from being creative and looking outside the status quo for ideas.  Workers and mid-level leaders become afraid to offer their opinions.  Management views creativity and new ideas as a challenge to their authority, resulting in employees feeling at risk when sharing suggestions for change.  When this happens, corporations and leaders can become as Morgan calls them “instruments of domination.” (Morgan, 2006). Open system thinking can help prevent corporate blindness, psychic prisons, and from becoming instruments of domination.

Implementing Automatic Growth Leadership


When leading a department, division, or organization, it is indispensable to tie the four tools together with a strategic focus on leadership agreement, interdependency, interactive and lateral communications, collaboration, and cooperation.  In doing so, leaders can structure functional and people systems to automatically encourage behaviors that drive their desired business outcomes.  Once the systems are running, less time and effort is needed to manage repeatable tasks, allowing more time to explore fresh, innovative ways to grow.


Innovative leaders use autopoietic systems to automate people and functional activities.  Building a reward system that includes interdependent goals, by design, permeates the organization’s culture with agreement and cooperation.  The interdependent goals tie people and business outcomes from multiple systems together.  By design, teaming and agreement with corporate directives are built into the system structures.  Everyone benefit’s when all people and systems are pulling in the same direction.  It is the fulfillment of the old saying, “one for all and all for one.”


Although I would like nothing more than to dive further into automated growth, it encompasses a deep understanding of meta-systems and complex adaptive systems, and that stretches far beyond the bounds of reading a book or gathering information from a website.  However, I hope to have the opportunity to discuss how to create autopoietic systems that perpetuate vitality and organizational growth with you in person.  I look forward to meeting you, whether on a leadership webinar, as a member in my private mentorship group, or at a sponsored leadership event by your organization.


References: (Omnicom Group, 2019), (FourSight, 2018)(Lucidchart, 2017),(Plenert, 2012),(Johnson & Johnson, 2013),(Seidi, 2004),(Morgan, 2006),(Livingston, 2014)

© 2016 - 2020 Gregory Buschman, Ph.D.(c) All rights reserved.