Growing me, Growing you, aha

We explored the GROW model a while back in this blog, especially the issue of getting clients focused on goal and checking where they are in respect of this.  In this blog I want to focus on the ‘options’ part of the model.  In other words, the creative / expansive thinking stage of the process, where new ideas are considered for their own value without initial concern for their practicality.

What we most need in such circumstances are a series of ‘better brainstorming’ tools to help your client escape from habitual thought patterns and genuinely consider novel strategies to achieving their goals.  Having taught on the flagship MBA programme Creativity, Innovation and Change for 12 years, I have been exposed to just about every creative thinking tool on the planet.  When we are coaching, we need a small subset of these that can be done on a 1:1 basis and which are mainly verbal-linguistic in nature, as we are usually doing coaching in this mode.  Here’s two of my favourites which work when a client is stuck or when they need more radical ideas than are currently being considered:


In situations where people find it hard to produce ideas, the technique of reversal can be used to overcome the blockage.  Typically, reversal produces wilder ideas than conventional brainstorming.  Once you are fixed on a goal, ask your client to find ways NOT to achieve the goal. For example, if the goal were ‘In how many ways may we improve the image of the department in the eyes of key customers?’, one reversal would be ‘In how many ways might we seriously damage our reputation with key customers that would lead to a long term memory of the department as worst in class?’  Once you have generated some wild reversals, examine them to see if they can be re-reversed to produce new ideas for the goal.  This does not mean adding the word ‘not’, but a creative reversal of the idea.  Continue to do this until ideas that are both novel and practical emerge.


The technique requires you to adopt the persona of a superhero.  In this context this could be someone with ‘relevant’ qualities e.g. an expert problem solver or creative genius, or just any old hero, e.g. a superstar, fictional hero, or icon of some sort.  It matters not who you pick apart from the fact that you will be comfortable ‘being them for a few minutes’.  In the superhero role, ask your client to generate a number of ideas without concern for their practical value from the mind of their chosen hero.  You may have to ‘scale them back’ in a second phase to ensure the exaggerations become more practical etc.

There are many more techniques to improve the efficiency of brainstorming, some of which are outlined in our books ‘Best Practice Creativity’,  ‘Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll’ and in our latest publication ‘Punk Rock People Management’, which is available for FREE – just mail us with PUNK in the title.

Sex, Leadership and Rock'n'Roll - business excellence plus music! - Click on the picture to find the book on Amazon - acclaimed by Tom Peters

We deliver 1:1 and group coaching sessions as part of the work he does to move clients from innovative thought to profitable action on a worldwide basis.  If you would like fuller explanations of the techniques mentioned in this article or to talk to him directly about applications of creative thinking in business, please contact Peter directly at and he will provide you with the full ‘recipes’.

Women, money, devil worship and bohemia

An unusual request came in recently from the Local Government Information Unit – they have asked us to run an event for Chief Executives on how to save money without costing the earth.  I have done a few jobs for Public Services over the years but never been asked to help civil servants do uncivilised things to themselves, such as making cuts.  Clearly, we will not be using guitars for this one and it is the realm of our serious day job at Human Dynamics.  I am aware from personal experience that Public Services can sometimes find it hard to make the joined up cuts that actually help them deliver services more effectively, preferring to make ‘easier’ cuts that look good on paper, but which damage efficiency and effectiveness overall.  One Council I know has recently sacked a load of receptionists.  Seems OK?  Unfortunately, it now takes people 15 minutes to get into the building with the huge impact on wasted time etc.

Anyway, on a less serious note, I have been asked to launch The Business Women’s Network in a few locations in the coming months.  Somewhat strangely, they have asked me to speak on ‘Sex, Love, Relationships and Rock’n’Roll’.  I would have thought that they would be much more clued up on business relationships than us men.  Anyway, we’ll see.

Finally, I had a day in the studio with Bernie Torme the other day – Bernie is a lovely chap with a fantastic high end studio in a beautiful location in Kent.  He has played with Ozzy Osbourne, the prince of darkness and Ian Gillan of Deep Purple.  Bernie is available as part of our Musical Experiences portfolio and we shared many interesting stories about the bizarre business of Rock’n’Roll.

And finally, showcasing a great young talent – The amazing Sam Laming, who plays a range of medieval instruments and famously offers a rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody on the Ukelele.  We will be incorporating Sam in our Musical Experience events in castles, dungeons and Holiday Inns around the world in the coming months.