Sunday, July 31, 2011

What If Managers are Like Mr Bean?

What if we all have crazy managers who ask questions all the time even at the risk of sounding dumb? Nice, right? These are people, who like to challenge assumptions, may be the key to finding innovative and creative workplace solutions.

In fact, the United States celebrates “Ask A Stupid Question Day” on the last day of school in September. The tradition, which started in the 1980s, aims to encourage children to ask questions without fear of sounding stupid.

So why should managers be like Mr Bean? Perhaps by being as lovable and approachable as this British comic character, managers could create a fun work culture where employees are happy and thus more productive. Or, if staff can “reinvent” themselves, there will be no lack of exciting ideas from them.

Management gurus advocate the need for management and employees to question the usual ways of doing things, even if they sound foolish.

The onus is on management to build a corporate culture where employees dare to ask silly questions, argues award-winning author and consultant Alan Gregerman, known as the “Robin Williams of business consulting.”

“It might not be a bad idea to give awards for the stupidest questions of the year–the ones with answers that ended up making us a more effective and valued company or organization,” advises Mr Gregerman on his website.

To boost workplace creativity, ‘foolishness’ is needed, says business creativity expert Fredrik Härén, author of The Idea Book, which has sold over 200,000 copies worldwide. “If people feel it is okay to make a fool of [themselves], they tend to become braver [at being creative]…
‘Why are we doing this?’
That is a question that a lot of people should ask much more often.”

What are the consequences of not asking enough stupid questions? Just look at history, he adds. “The Titanic sank and killed almost all onboard and no one had asked why there were no life-vests. Actually, the one who is stupid is the one who doesn't ask stupid questions.”