Lessons Learned At The Water Cooler
by Maryann Brennan
Business News Briefs
What Creativity Can Lead To
Imagination + inventiveness = creativity. And sometimes, creativity comes from the most unexpected places.
At Tennessee Valley Authority(a federal agency with a mission of regional development throughout the Valley region)Tracy Schmidt, senior quality analyst, and Gary Vansuch, manager of total quality and innovation, have designed a set of tools to uncover creativity. Interestingly enough, their tool is an acronym which connotes a warmly felt Italian greeting and farewell and underscores their approach to creativity. The acronym is CIAO!: Creativity and Innovation Applications for Organizations to unleash the creativity in their workforce.
Creatively, Vansuch and Schmidt see CIAO! (hello- when the problem first presents itself and the problem solving creative process begins and goodbye- when, after the application of creativity and innovative tools, the issue is solved and the problem is history) as forming the letters for the tools that set the stage for both the hello and the goodbye of the creative process.
Everybody is intrinsically creative, Vansuch says. It's unlocking the power of our imagination and seeing the possibilities that result, that gets the creative juices flowing and can lead to remarkable innovation in organizations.
Too Much of a Good Thing?
Creativity: Dead or Alive?
Many of us are trained and rewarded to look for flaws and
holes when presented with new information. These talents are useful in evaluating
and selecting among ideas. However, unconsciously we often use these same
talents for target practice of new ideas, or whats known as the Yes,
but approach. This results in severely limiting our thinking when
we need to generate options that go beyond the obvious.
In typical business relationships, no time is allowed to play with an idea that at first glance seems absurd or impossible. An idea, when given further consideration, might become a source of great innovation. A team or individual could have the greatest idea in the world, but in order to move to the next level, support is a must. And infectious enthusiasm on the part of the creative person will do much to muster that support. It has been said that enthusiasm is the greatest asset in the world. It beats money, power and influence.
Risk Taking a Necessary Ingredient
Another pitfall of the creative process is offering a solution before the problem is correctly defined. When the presenter must correctly and succinctly define the problem to a person in authority, they are instilling faith that this project will be completed in a timely and creative manner.
When the problem has been correctly outlined and a presentation of a specific creative approach to the problem is made, that presentation should end with one obvious thing: a very specific request for action.
Types of Creative Thinking
A project team in the Midwest wrestled with the problem of keeping pole lines free of snow. During a frustrating creative sessionwhere imagination and inventiveness tended to be lackingthere came a quiet voice with an off the wall suggestion: "If we could just get a bear to shake the poles, we'd be rid of the snow!" Rather than ridicule the suggestion, the group took the thought and ran with it.
The inventiveness that followed went something like this: If we put honey on the top of the poles, the bear will shake them trying to get the honey and the snow to come off. But how would we put the honey on the poles? Maybe a helicopter? Wait a minute.....Who needs a bear? Let's get a helicopter, have it fly by and its backwash will free the lines of the snow!
The bear/honey/snow poles project team moved through both types of thinking without getting bogged down in either the initial creative process or the highly creative solution.
Promoting Divergent Thinking
Visualization helps to punch up the idea. You may have been developing your creative idea over a considerable period of time but for others, who may only have a brief exposure to the idea, use of fluency tools can be a significant factor in generating an enthusiastic response to the idea.
Excursion tools push your mind to grope for illumination,
coming up with ideas you might not have come up with if you had only used
brainstorming. And solicit input from others as part of this process. Use
not only all the brains you have, but also all you can borrow!
Shake-up tools use humor or group fantasies (There once was a bear from ) to introduce some relaxation into the process. The beginning is almost always the most important part of the work, so it is important to lighten-up early on in the creative process, so that there is no bogging down in the ever-present tendency for negativism. The ability to use humor and create a climate where off-the-wall thinking is encouraged can greatly accelerate and enhance the success of ideas.
Spotting the Creative Ones
Who says you can't tell by looking? It depends on what you're looking fora sense of humor, adventurousness, spontaneity, persistence, curiosity and, quite often, those who have trouble following the rules!
It's important to focus creative efforts on goals that are important to each of the organizations in the business relationship. To look for opportunities within so-called problems and to spend time formulating the problem before solving it. Consider a wide range of alternatives before selecting a specific one and be comfortable with making mistakes before getting it right.
When it comes to the creative process, it is definitely OK to make mistakes.
When used properly, thoughtfully and enthusiastically,these elements can help immeasurably in creatively solving the workplace problems that all organizations face. The creative process is indeed, one of the most exciting and ultimately rewarding adventures the workplace has to offer.Creativity and Innovation Applications for Organizations. So CIAO provides a warm welcome in any language to new ideas in your organization.
And we won't even have to buy any honey!