Tuesday, March 24, 2015
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Why Creative Problem Solving?
“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” –Elinor Smith
Train Your People in the Basics of the Creative Process
When Etienne Veber, former president of Nutrasweet Company was racing to bring a product to market with a potential payoff of close to $1 billion dollars, he sponsored a year-long creativity and innovation intervention. In order to optimize working relationships and work output, he trained his team in the fundamentals of the creative process and secured ongoing coaching and facilitation services throughout the year. Looking back on the results he says, “The creativity and innovation training has made a world of difference to our team. It showed us how we could do things differently so we could be much faster to market and much more creative -- the results have been amazing.”
Deliberate Creativity isn’t just about new products or breakthroughs
Last year, after Pernod Ricard Winemakers adopted a new vision of “Leading Wine Innovation”, they launched a creative leadership program called Th!nk that is based on creative problem solving. Paulina Larocca, Creativity and Concept director says, “in order to live into our new vision, we wanted to empower our people to be individually creative, to enable them to use deliberate creative tools and techniques not only for big challenges but also for everyday interactions.” 6 months after the training, Russ Schoen did follow up interviews with the 20 participants. In addition to several real business challenges being solved, participants reported the biggest impact they saw was how they approached everyday situations with more creativity. Tony, a participant from New Zealand in operations said, “Now my meetings and everyday conversations are more effective because I am using the principles of deferred judgment and generous listening.” Anne Marie, a participant from the finance group said – I use one of the key tools – phrasing problems as questions almost daily in conversations with co-workers to get unstuck. And Marie from Marketing said, “the whole understanding of Foursight Preferences, that people have difference energy for different parts of the Creative Problem Solving process, has changed how I approach everyday meetings – I am now able to adapt and actively manage them much better.”
People embracing deliberate creative thinking tools gives an organization the ability to tap people’s natural creative abilities as soon as they are faced with a pressing business challenge. According to Paulina, “It starts with a recognition that everyone is creative. We just need to empower people with the right tools and the right mindset, so they can start having more creative conversations and interactions everyday.”
Take the first step
In the 1950’s, Alex Osborn, an advertising executive, discovered Creative Problem Solving by observing highly creative people, groups and teams and documenting the stages they went through to solve challenges. Osborn realized that problem solving was a natural process and that by making the problem solving process explicit rather than strictly intuitive, people would be able to significantly improve their problem solving abilities. He was right! Hundreds of research studies have proven its effectiveness; Creative Problem Solving (CPS) provides a common language and framework for individuals and groups to understand complex challenges, generate innovative solutions and create deliberate plans of action.
The result: a process designed to deliver breakthrough results on real challenges utilizing people’s native abilities and gifts.
So whether you want to have more creative meetings, better creative conversations, launch new products, or fuel creative leadership growth, Creative Problem Solving may just be the right engine. Who knows? You may even find yourself on with some stellar new ideas!
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Creative problem solving for career success!
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
So much talk around about how important it is to be innovative. How will organisations progress or keep up with the rapid pace of change if there is not a culture of innovation? In the IBM Global CEO survey, innovation emerges as a critical skill that leaders need to display - see http://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/en/c-suite/ceostudy2012/.
So - it seems as though innovation should be top of mind when it comes to establishing a training program for an organisation. You would think that there would be a substantial focus on providing people with the right tools and techniques to be more creative, to use the full extent of their creativity so that they do in fact deliver new ideas that can be readily implemented.
Reality seems to dictate otherwise! Very little budget appears to be allocated to learning programs, formal and informal workshops or any experiences that lead to thinking in a more creative way. And creativity is a skill that can be learnt - we are not born with some mysterious powers that enable us to think in way that leads to creative outputs.
Are we afraid of creating this climate of innovation because of what could happen and we in fact prefer to stick to the same old way of doing things? Are we afraid of what might emerge when people come up with better ways of doing things and we might not have the will or the budget to take these ideas forward? Are we determined to buck the innovation trend and remain happily ensconced in the 20th Century?
Help! I just cannot figure it out.
There is just so much disruption happening in so many industries - no one can afford to be complacent.
Ideal world would be for all team members to be able to follow a process of generating ideas in a structured way so that there are bucket loads of ideas from which practical, useful and amazing actions emerge that make a real difference to the organisation. When it comes to allocating budget, creative thinking techniques should not be placed as a low priority item that we can get to at some distant point in time. I would hope that these tools would be part and parcel of any training delivery program or process.
Enough with simply talking about innovation - take practical steps to make it happen by providing the entire company with the ability to creatively problem solve:
1. Start off meetings in unusual ways to convey the message that all can contribute and no ideas will be blocked. Gather an endless supply of ways of initiating meetings.
2. Be trained as a facilitator who knows the difference between divergence and convergence - follow the YES AND principle and make others in the room look good. Watch how quickly people build on other people's ideas and what emerges from the conversations when 100% of the people in the room are included.
3. Be formally trained as a creative problem solving facilitator so that you can apply the principles of this world renowned process in your own meetings. Ideate more strongly and then select the best ideas by moving towards consensus in a logical way. See how many new ideas emerge that would otherwise have been discarded too quickly - and how much easier it is when there is buy-in to the new way of doing things.
4. Form teams that include a range of participants and leaders with different styles of creative thinking. Do you have people on the team who are clarifiers, idea generators, developers, and implementers? Do you know what the preferred styles are in terms of creativity and have you identified these styles in the team? Undertake a survey to determine who is who in the team - and watch the huge difference this makes.
5. Emphasise the importance of innovation to your learning and development and HR teams - they might not see training in this area as being a top priority agenda item. And it is so easy to integrate innovation techniques in to just about any learning experience whether on-line or face to face.
The best news of all - none of this comes with a huge price tag. Small investment that leads to a huge return. But only if you are not afraid of innovation....