114 Provoke Ideas

by | May 4, 2012 | Facilitate meetings, Innovate

 The Creative Gorilla #114 Use a range of idea generation approaches to avoid stale thinking…  “The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.” Linus Pauling, American Scientist What approaches do you have for idea generation? Reflecting on  televised political leadership debates, the thought struck me, “What if the management teams of companies were elected?” No, not the Board; for most private companies the shareholders elect them. I mean staff voting for the management team. Imagine the CEO having to debate with rivals for his job in front of the staff… This idea sneaked in to my head as I lay in bed and is an example of idea generation that we might call “Individual Spontaneity.” It relies on our existing knowledge and making “connections” between pieces of knowledge in our brain, sometimes prompted by an external stimulus. The advantage is that it is free and the ideas can be brilliant; Eureka moments! The issues include that it is ad hoc and unreliable. The same can be said for “Group Spontaneity”, where ideas arise when you are chatting with friends or colleagues. For an organisation to rely on Spontaneity for new ideas is a little haphazard, even if your organisation encourages people to socialise and talk about work. Therefore, it will require some kind of structured approach to produce ideas more consistently. I consider there are three structured approaches to generate ideas, which I term: Structured Unprovoked Structured Provoked Structured Unlearning Let’s review them. As usual I would appreciate your feedback to broaden my perspective. Structured unprovoked Common in the workplace, someone gets a...

113 Build a Creative Climate…

The Creative Gorilla #113 It is important to build the appropriate climate for your innovation needs… “Companies must have capacity for radical change to survive long term, whilst having the ability to innovate in day to day operations.” Summarised from Goran Ekvall, in Creativity and Innovation Management How good is the climate in your organisation?   Imagine you are driving a right hand drive car along a busy German autobahn. There are roadworks and the road has only two narrow lanes. To your left is a low concrete barrier to protect the road workers. You cannot see it well and if you drive in the left lane you worry you will hit it. In the right lane are many huge lorries (trucks) that drive close together. Driving between two of them feels very uncomfortable. I experienced this recently, en route to Wolfsburg, Germany, for a football match with my family. It was stressful and I think it fair to say if you had asked me for a creative idea at that time, you were unlikely to get more than a grunt. We returned on the Friday and the next day I was reminded of this experience whilst facilitating a study day for MBA students, with my friend, Elvin Box. We touched on the theme of creative climate in organisations and I thought what a great metaphor the autobahn situation was for a poor creative climate. Compare that to a brisk walk along a sunny beach, having a lively discussion with a friend whilst a cool breeze fans your face; or choose your own metaphor for a creative climate. So...

112 Map for Creativity …

The Creative Gorilla #112 Use Mind Mapping to help you find solutions… “Creativity is the development of original ideas, concepts and solutions using imagination and association – this is the premise of the mind map.” Tony Buzan, with Chris Griffiths, in Mind Maps for Business   Would you like to enhance your solution finding?   Next week, we are taking our children to Germany, to see our football team Fulham play Wolfsburg in the quarterfinals of the Europa League. This is our first ever match abroad and yesterday we went on line to a route planning web site to find out how to drive there. I looked at the detailed list of instructions, which didn’t help much to get an overview. Next I viewed the interactive map but after a minute or so of fiddling, I confess I borrowed my son’s atlas and in a few seconds was able to use my imagination to visualise the route and association to work out the rough distance to three nearby towns for potential hotels. Having obtained a sense of relief at confirming our travel details, I was delighted too that this atlas, with its very clear visualisation and structure, gave me a useful introduction to this article, imagination and association being at the core of how Mind Maps work. I recently attended a course led by Tony Buzan and others, to become a licensed Buzan Mind Mapping instructor and thought I would share how we can use Mind Maps for, amongst many other things, creativity.  Many of you will know the concept of left and right brain, the left side of...

111 Facilitate a Creative Away Day …

The Creative Gorilla #111 With the right factors in place you can make your workshops outstanding… “In the closing session, participants described it as the best away day they had ever experienced.” Manager, Government department Would you like to make your next team away day really creative? As you may know, I really love to see examples of people putting creativity in to action. This article describes an away day facilitated by a student (and fellow Gorilla) who attended the Open University Creativity and Innovation residential workshop and joined my group of Creative Gorillas. She based the day on what she learned from our group, from her course material and from her own experience and creativity. She wrote the article for her in-house intranet site and I asked her if we could share it with other Gorillas.  This is a great example of how someone with limited experience of facilitation and creativity can produce a terrific outcome, using simple principles and relevant tools. Away days generate mixed expectations. Some people want to address the nuts and bolts of delivery; others are focused on team cohesion; a few just welcome a change of scene. When I undertook to plan the away day for our department, I felt it should be possible to address all of these, with some creativity and fun thrown in for good measure. With help from my Open University course on Creativity, Innovation and Change, and thanks to the energetic participation of my colleagues, we exceeded expectations.  So how did we do it? Three simple rules stand out: 1) Build a Creative Climate Being creative involves taking...

110 Ensure People Understand the Situation…

YES! AND… Collaborate. Innovate. Transform – Creative Gorilla #110 You must ensure everybody involved in tackling a situation understands it. This is essential if you wish to find a long lasting solution… “It was some relief for Morse to recognise the fair countenance of reason once more, and she greeted him serenely when he woke, clear headed, on Monday morning and told him that it would be no bad idea to have a quiet look at the problem itself before galloping off towards a solution.” Colin Dexter, author in “Service of all the Dead” Chapter 12 Are you tackling the right problem? In an Internet chat room recently I noticed an elderly lady had posted a problem she wanted help with.  Essentially, she wondered what she could do next in her life to give it some more challenge. (Which I agree is more of an opportunity than a problem). Very soon, up popped a response from a contributor advising her to take up painting “because that’s what my grandmother did”. All credit to this respondent for contributing and I am sure they had a positive intent but… already someone had come up with a solution and we knew little about the situation, other than the lady was elderly. Yes, it may well have been exactly the right answer, but equally it may have been completely wrong. This reminded me so much of what often happens in organisations, “Here are some symptoms of a problem;” “Aha, here’s a solution we used before on a similar issue”; put it in to action and voila! The problem reappears a few weeks later...