How Style Affects How You Innovate [Yes! And Blog #141]

How using different styles effectively can  enhance innovation… One of the activities I use at the start of innovation workshops or team workshops, is the cane activity (or “Get Caned” as I call it). This involves having two equal size teams either side of a long cane (I use a foldable tent pole) with the cane resting on each person’s index fingers. They must lower the cane to the floor from waist height, keeping their fingers on the cane at all times. This sounds very easy; if I say that groups usually take “five minutes plus” on their first run and are often standing on tip toes at times, you can sense it might not be. I give teams three attempts at it and usually they can reduce the time to less than a minute (the record being 25 seconds in my classes). Apart from being a useful team building exercise, I use it to bring out lessons about creativity and innovation. In the debriefing, one key lesson that emerges is about the different styles people have to tackle the challenge. Some are obvious; those who focus completely on the outcome and go for it, immediately shouting instructions seeking to use their intuition to work it out. Others want to break the rules “just drop it!” Some people are more experimental, “Let’s try this… that didn’t work, try this…” The rest observe how others do it and replicate what works. There is often frustration and the biggest lesson is that people tackle challenges in different ways (their style) and the team must listen and collaborate if they going to achieve the required...

How to Enhance Your Creative Thinking [Yes! And. Blog # 140]

If you want to enhance your creativity you need to interrupt your trains of thought …    “I have coined the term “bisociation” to make a distinction between the routine skills of thinking on a single plane, and the creative act which always operates on more than one plane.   Arthur Koestler, Philosopher How might you enhance creative thinking? I was on holiday in Spain last week and with glorious weather and time to think I began playing with a concept that I last wrote about in Yes! And Blog 80.  This was the idea of using a railway metaphor for how people think and create ideas, leading to how you can stimulate your creative thinking. As I pondered on it, the whole concept became a lot clearer for me so I thought I would build on that last article. In this telling of the metaphor, the track is your life path. All of your learning, skills and experience sit in carriages (or coaches). The carriages at the back contain all of the information from your childhood, one each for pre-school, primary school and secondary school, perhaps one for childhood outside school (chunk the carriages how you like). This is your own “train of thought” (sorry for the pun!). Information was poured in to the carriage(s) from the world outside, either actively introduced through interaction with people, by personal experience or passively absorbed. These carriages now contain memories. You can access the carriages and the memories but logically cannot add anything as you move on to a new piece of track (another period of your life). The memories are your...

Listen to Create [Yes! And. Blog 3]

““When people talk listen completely. Don’t be thinking what you’re going to say. Most people never listen.” Ernest Hemingway in Across the River and Into the Trees Do you listen well? Really listen? Or do you spend the time whilst others are talking, thinking of what you will say next? How much more creative might you be if you listened well and built on the ideas of others? I was in a café in a garden centre on a recent Monday, waiting at the counter for my coffee. Two ladies walked up beside me, chattering away to each other very animatedly. As I waited, my ears attuned to their conversation and I realised they were not talking to each other but at each other. One was talking about her garden and the other was talking about her mother. It was surreal and a bit sad, like a Woody Allen movie. By chance I had just attended an Improvisation Comedy course that weekend. Improvisation puts great emphasis on listening to the other performers. That’s “listening” not “hearing”. Taking the time to consider what is said and so perhaps finding a deeper meaning to the words. If we listen in Improvisation, we can build more on the creative ideas of others and we can prevent our own preconceived ideas ruining a scene with an insensible response. It also provides the other players with the confidence to develop the scene further, as Menninger says, “it makes us unfold and expand”. In short, by listening we can make the work more creative and humorous. When you speak in innovation workshops, you only hear one idea. When...