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Ideation - Creative Thinking Skills

Business Performance Improvement Requires Better Ideas

Business performance improvement is built on a healthy sequence of good decisions supported by the decision makers' organizations. Good decisions come from good thinking, the ability to solicit, consider, compare, and select good ideas. Thinking "out of the box" is all about generating the opportunity to have lots of good ideas to choose from. Good business is about turning good ideas into profitability.

Thinking is a Skill

We can consider that intelligence and thinking are different. Intelligence is our innate capability, what we're born with. Thinking, on the other hand, is how we learn to use our intelligence and, as such, is a skill. As a skill, like bowling, golfing, cooking, etc., it can be actively improved. In one comparison, intelligence is the race car and its finite mechanical capabilities, and thinking is the driver who can learn more and more about how to maximize the utility of the car.

Out of the Box, or Rather Across Paradigm Boundaries

Our brains are wonderful data storage and retrieval systems which prefer patterns and repetition. They recognize new ideas that are similar enough to recorded ideas so they "fit" into the preexisting collection. Truly new ideas often don't even register in this hierarchy of set patterns. It also seems that truly new ideas often come from the "accidental" crossing of paradigms, mixing new ideas that just don't logically belong together. The self-organizing capacity of our brains goes to work on this new, unique combination and tries tirelessly to "make sense" of the novel combination. "Lots of ideas" is the wonderful by-product; 90% will be thrown away, but 10% will often include ideas, never before conceived, which warrant further consideration.

Creativity Techniques

While there are many myths about creativity (creative people are always artists, or nerds, or not like you and me, etc.), a modern understanding of creativity recognizes techniques are available to assist anyone who knows how to use them. Effective creativity techniques deliberately mix up paradigms while addressing real problems and opportunities to proactively generate lots of new ideas. These techniques do not need to depend on a chance occurrence. These techniques can be used at will whenever individuals or teams recognize they need more ideas. "Creative people" learn to recognize they may have to use an illogical technique to generate what they will only later come to recognize and appreciate as a logical alternative. Go figure!

Ideation Session Example Agenda

  1. Introduction: Meeting overview. goals, introductions, assumptions, ground rules.
  2. Creative process introduction: Review purpose and strategy of deliberately creating new ideas.
  3. Consider the phenomena of creativity: How the brain likes to work creatively and how we can take advantage of this; pattern making, free association, role of techniques. Discuss the paradox of using logical and illogical thinking techniques to list and create logical useful ideas; function of "fixed point"
  4. Select topics which need new ideas: Plan to use techniques on a practical issues.
  5. Select the techniques: Problem Reformulation, Scoreboard, Knowledge Mapping, Classic Brainstorming, Brainwriting, Alternatives, Random Word, Imaginary Brainstorming, Analogies, Picture Associations, Biotechniques, TILMAG, and Morphological Box; how to use Creative Thinking Process and select techniques.
  6. Use techniques on practical challenges: Use the above techniques on your selected issue; small groups working on same or variety of issues.
  7. Select best alternatives: Use Scoreboard, Multivoting, and Decision Matrix to select best alternatives.
  8. Consider using techniques in your workplace: How techniques can be used effectively in a wide variety of business environments
  9. Other creativity techniques: Introduction and reference additional techniques.
  10. Next steps: Plan for your successful implementation of this new thinking.

Ideation Session Format:

This meeting most effective when intact work teams meet to address current, real problems. Students work at team tables practicing on company issues while learning to use skills presented in the meeting.

Next Step:

Contact Maset for developing your own New Product and Service Ideation Session.

MASET, LLC    P. O. Box 11663    Chandler, AZ 85248
Phone: 602-721-3680     Fax 480-802-4710

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