Who do you “report to” when you are the boss? How do you deal with those unmotivated periods, or those days when you feel overwhelmed by the work ahead?
Well, the truly successful have had a method of dealing with these pressures for a long time. In the early 1900s Napoleon Hill studied the most successful people of the day and discovered their secret – a network of other success-oriented people who kept them focused and on track.
A Creative Intelligence Alliance is a group of people who meet regularly for the purpose of combining their experience and perspectives to generate truly creative solutions to challenges they identify. In business, this can be a critical resource.
Your ideal CI Alliance might be a Mastermind, a Success Group, an Advisory Board, or even a Referral Network, but you will find that it will help you grow your business by providing advice, accountability, and support.
Most CI Alliances have a maximum number of members (usually between eight and twelve) and often they have specific types of members that they are looking for. For example, one groups may be limited to people in the insurance field.
What is a ‘Creative Intelligence’ Alliance?
A ‘Creative Intelligence’ Alliance is a group of like-minded people who meet on a regular basis for the purpose of combining their perspectives and experience to generate truly creative ways to reach a specific goal, whether that is business success, a charitable project, or to solve a specific problem. In business, this can be a vital resource.
The most well-known form of ‘Creative Intelligence’ Alliance is the ‘Master Mind’ as described by Napoleon Hill in his 1937 book Think and Grow Rich. In researching this book, Hill spent many years studying the great business leaders of the day to see what they had in common. (At the request of Andrew Carnegie, he helped define a systematic way for people to pursue and attain their goals and dreams.)
In setting up (or joining) a ‘Creative Intelligence’ Alliance of your own, you will discover that one of the preliminary steps is to define the purpose of the Alliance – and that is more than the specific goals of the individual members. When choosing a group, you need to ensure that the group goals are in harmony with yours, and that the personalities involved are “in sync” with your own.
You may opt to attend a meeting or two to discern whether or not this particular group is a good match for you. Do not feel guilty if it is not a good fit; the goals, format, and style of the group needs to be right for you to be able to get the maximum benefit.
There are many types of ‘Creative Intelligence’ Alliances; one may be right for you.
A ‘Creative Intelligence’ Alliance is not limited to the concept of a ‘Master Mind’.
There are: Accountability Partners, Success Networks, Referral Groups, Brainstorm groups, Think Tanks, and the list goes on. Each has a different purpose and a different format, and even when they use the same name, they may differ widely as a result of being applied differently, by different people.
What do you get out of a ‘Creative Intelligence’ Alliance?
Having a group of trusted advisors and peers can help you discover innovative ways to achieve your goals. Depending on the focus of the group you choose, you may be expecting to receive some or all of the following benefits.
Some of the benefits include:
- A trusted group of advisors
- A team of people promoting your business and referring business to you
- A sounding board and brainstorming team
- A sense of accountability to achieve your stated session goals
- Best practices and tips for dealing with business situations you may be undergoing
- Emotional support
- Access to their contacts
What is required of you?
There may be rules specific to the group, but there are two things that you need to agree to up front for any ‘Creative Intelligence’ Alliance to be of real use to you:
- Commitment to attend the group meetings
- Willingness to be open and to participate
Starting your own ‘Creative Intelligence’ Alliance
Your Creative Intelligence Alliance is an advisory team that will be around for a long time – many years – and you need to build it with that goal in mind. You need to choose people who will inspire and support you, and who will evolve with you as your business grows.
Members need to remember they are free to “test drive” individual groups to see if they are a good fit for the personalities and business types involved. A potential member may come to a session to discover if the group is a good fit, and it should not be taken as an insult if they decide that it is not exactly what they are looking for.
All ‘Creative Intelligence’ Alliance are founded on one thing: trust. Without trust, members will not speak up and share their thoughts, nor will they listen to the advice of other people. The other key elements are: respect, cooperation, commitment, openness, and genuine caring. The absence of any of these elements will spell the end of the Alliance.
During the first meeting, there are certain decisions that should be made, including what is the goal of the group as a whole. Is it strictly business-focused? Is there a time set aside for socializing as well?
- What is the group name?
- What ‘Creative Intelligence’ Alliance format will it follow, or will it be free-form?
- What is the group mission? (The goals will be a part of this, but it should be worded in such a way that you can tell if the group is meeting its mission.)
- What geographical area will the members come from?
- What are the individual members goals?
- What do the individual members what to get from the meetings?
- How many members you would like to see in the group ideally?
- How often will the group meet? At what time?
- What is the meeting subject matter?
- What specific rules must be adhered to for continued participation? E.g. how many meetings can a member miss (per year) before they are replaced?
- What is the structure of the meetings? For example, some meetings will begin (or end) with each member stating how they have done with their goal for the past week, and setting a new one, thus instilling a sense of accountability for achievement.
- Are you planning to limit the group to compatible business owners in a particular sector, leave it wide open based on personalities, or to have only one business type?
Best Practices for a ‘Creative Intelligence’ Alliance
It is worth stating once again that potential members should be free to attend one meeting with no expectations or obligation to join. Every Alliance will develop its own personality separate from those of the members. Each member of a CI Alliance has to feel that the group is a ‘fit’ with their goals and ideals, and it should not be taken as a personal slight if a visitor decides that the group is not a match for them.
- Understand that trust is the foundation on which a successful CI Alliance is built. Give the group a reasonable amount of time to build the trust that is required to feel free to share ideas and open up to each other. In the trust building phase, it may be useful to work through a book that has specific exercises to help members get to know each other. You can find some suggested books in our bookstore in the ‘Creative Intelligence’ Alliance section.
- Only bring in members who will contribute positively to the group. There is no point in adding new members for the sake of having seats filled. A Creative Intelligence Alliance is about quality, not quantity.
- Be sure to include a variety of opinions, perspectives, and cultures (be they corporate cultures or ethnicities).
- New members should only be added to a group with the approval of all existing members.
- Establish a mailing list for the group – one address to send information to all current members.
- Periodically evaluate whether the group is working for the individual members, and whether the established “format” should be altered or if it needs to get back on track with the original stated goals.
- Brainstorming and collaborating is not about being “right”. Members who feel they have all the answers all the time are detrimental to the group. Other problematic personality types: “attention hogs”, those who take the personal information and share with people outside the group, and the otherwise thoughtless.
- If an individual member is not working out for any reason, the rest of the group has to be prepared to ask them to leave. If the member is allowed to continue in the Alliance, it may damage the interaction to the point where the group will cease to function.
- Resolve conflicts immediately. Do not let hard feelings fester and destroy the trust underlying your ‘Creative Intelligence’ Alliance.