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Creativity is the New Black

creative-thinkingEverybody’s talking about creativity and innovation. Leaders in organizations  wrestle with the questions: 1) how do we increase the propensity for creativity in our workforce, and 2) how do we build a culture of innovation? (The latter, of course, is where sustainability comes into play.) Creativity was even the focus of this morning’s SuperSoulSunday program.

If you are looking for a few ideas fun and simple ways to begin bringing more creativity to your team, I suggest starting with one of these:

Creative Insight Session

1. State the problem
2. Brainstorm
3. Reframe the question
4. Conduct a second round of brainstorming, using the newly reframed problem statement.
Here’s an example:
1. A few years ago a friend asked me to help her think about what kind of car she should buy. Her old car was on it’s last leg.
Problem Statement: I need a new car.
2. She had consulted several reputable sources for information on price, reliability, safety ratings, etc. Then I contributed a few probing questions that allowed us to Brainstorm:
  • How far do you drive on a daily basis? Weekly?
  • What are your parking accommodations, at home and at work?
  • Do you ever use alternative modes of transportation? If yes, when and how often?
3. My questions helped her to expand the way she was thinking about her initial problem statement and criteria. She realized that, actually, she drove seldom and found it difficult to park at work (a major University campus) so often resorted to taking the bus or riding her bicycle. Within just a few minutes she was easily able to Reframe the Problem Statement to: I need regular and reliable transportation.
4. We were then able to Conduct a Second Round of Brainstorming options for meeting her regular transportation needs including getting a bus pass, using Zip Cars, and riding her bicycle more often.

Excursion Technique

THE EXCURSION

  • The leader instructs participants to visualize an excursion into or through some physical location that has nothing to do with the problem at hand.  Ask participants to close their eyes and imagine a journey through some exotic location, real or imagined, (strange country, science museum, beach on a sunny day, jungle, balloon floating over France, space travel to Mars, etc.)  For example, a journey in a submarine to the bottom of the deepest part of the ocean.
  • Encourage participants to let go and let their imaginations roam.
  • ·Have participants write down everything they see.  It’s important to write detailed descriptions.  The excursion should take around five to ten minutes.

DRAWING ANALOGIES

  • Take ten minutes and ask participants to write analogies, relationships and thoughts between what they saw and the problem.  Participants determine what the relationships really mean in terms of the problem, that is, how understanding these relationships can be used to solve the problem.
  • Ask the participants to look for ways to use these analogies, relationship and thoughts to solve the problem.  Have them write down all ideas and suggestions.

EVALUATING

  • Discuss the experiences, ideas, understandings and solutions with the group.
  • Look for ways to piggyback on ideas and ways to combine ideas.

Prototyping

Prototyping is a great technique for creating or enhancing products or services based on what you learn by observing people in situations—what are they doing? How can we create solutions to their problems?  Check out this video to give you clearer sense of what this looks like in action, by the preeminent organization for prototyping, IDEO.
If you are interested in trying this technique in your organization, here’s a simple Prototyping Preparation document to get you started.
I hope you have fun experimenting with some of these creativity exercises. I encourage you, as always, to take a structured approach to exploring what might work for you and your organization. Even when it comes to play and new ways of approaching opportunities and problems, structured techniques are helpful to make sure that you’re fully engaging your team and that you maximize the learning from your efforts.
Please feel free to share additional techniques you use for encouraging creativity on your team.

DeEtta Jones

DeEtta Jones is an invited speaker, equity, diversity and inclusion strategy consultant and author with more than twenty years of experience working with people from around the world to on personal effectiveness and building workforce capacity.

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