Challenge Creative Thinking Tools [Yes! And Blog 15]

“…there were actually three different Walts: the dreamer, the realist, and the spoiler. You never knew which one was coming into your meeting.” Associate of Walt Disney Must you adhere strictly to creative techniques? Imagine this. It is 1.30 a.m. Your son has woken you by kicking something off his bed, you are wide awake with a mind full of ideas and you’re cursing that ba…rista in the coffee bar because you’re convinced she didn’t give you decaff cappuccino. Worse, you know you’re to blame because it tasted burnt and you still drank it because it was so d****d expensive. What are you going to do? It is now 2.19 a.m. and I have crept to my office downstairs to write this article.  Hopefully my wife won’t think I’m a burglar and apply Government guidelines on tackling burglars (you can hit them with a weapon in self defence). Whilst lying awake, I had been running an idea through my head and using the Disney technique to evaluate it. The Disney technique helps clarify your thinking by having you take the perspective of three characters – the “Dreamer” (“we could do THIS and it would be terrific”), the “Critic” or “Spoiler” (“THIS will never work because of….”) and the “Realist” (“Maybe we could replace THIS with THAT and develop a plan”). Robert Dilts described in an article that Walt Disney adopted the different perspectives throughout his career to aid his creativity, albeit he never appeared to have regarded it as a technique. As I lay in bed using the technique I noticed that another “character” was lurking very close and I decided to...

An Opportunity for Better Ideas [Yes! And Blog 181]

“Know what the opportunity really is, before generating ideas”   Opportunity. Solution. Two words that  have a chasm of difference in meaning when you want to innovate. In a workshop in Bahrain, I asked teams to identify an opportunity to work on. One of the teams wrote as their opportunity, “Train staff better in our sales outlets.” I questioned what problem the customers have, as you have an opportunity when someone has a difficulty of some kind, a problem. “They have to queue too long in store to pay bills or buy our products,” was the response. So, a question for you: is “train staff better in our sales outlets” an opportunity or a solution? Training staff is one solution to excessive queuing in store. But what is the problem the client has? Is it not being able to pay a bill quickly in store? Or do they find stores an inconvenient way to pay? Or is it that they want to buy an expensive product but have to queue behind people paying bills? Or… the list could be long and the customer could have many problems. [Please refer to Yes! And blog 147 for a tool to map problems]. Equally, there could be many valid solutions from “stagger the billing date” to “introduce new channels for bill payment”, to…we don’t really know until we have explored and clarified the opportunity. One way to state this team’s initial opportunity is to say simply, “We have a lot of people queuing in stores, especially at certain times in the week and month. This causes customer complaints, lost sales…etc.” Why is...

Inspire Through Quotations [Yes! And. Blog 186]

“Inspiring quotations are often seen but not heard.” John Brooker How might you use inspiring quotations? I use inspiring quotations in my articles, I post inspiring quotations on workshop walls and on Pinterest. I’ve even developed some of my own. Advertisers use them, e.g. “Good things come to those who wait”, which certainly inspired a lot of people to drink Guinness. However, I notice that many people treat them like “wallpaper”; and if they see them I sometimes wonder if they “hear” them and understand what they mean. Or perhaps overuse has left them uninspired How might you encourage people to “hear” inspirational quotations so that they are inspired, and how can you use them in a practical way to get the best impact from them? Here are four ideas: In workshops, if the energy slips, you might have people review the inspirational quotations on the wall (or floor). Each person chooses their favourite one, then I form pairs or threes and have them chat about why their chosen quotation is their favourite. This is a good way for people to reveal something about themselves without asking a direct question. For example, my favourite quotation: “There is no truth, only points of view.” (You will see it written in different ways and accredited to Roman generals, French authors and English poets) It reveals that; a) I am willing to listen to many viewpoints before making up my mind and b) I think it essential that if we are to be innovative and make meaningful change, people must listen to the ideas of other people. What might your favourite quotation...

How to Facilitate Operations to Innovate [Yes! And. Blog 185]

How might you facilitate Operations to innovate? When I inquired further on this, he explained that he could not understand why the Operations people in his area seemed to have an attitude of blocking innovation or at best, ignoring it. It was clearly very frustrating for him, as I know it is for other innovation teams. The innovation team leader had invited to the workshop one of the Operations leaders who was very supportive of innovation. Over a cup of tea, he explained to me that many people did not appreciate that the Operations managers were totally focussed on achieving their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). He had spent a year turning round an underperforming team and while he was supportive of innovation and had encouraged it on his unit, unless the innovation initiative helped him improve his operation and did not divert resources, why would he support it? So here are three actions you might take: Focus on their pain Entrepreneurs look for where people have pain and develop (create) and implement (innovate) solutions to eradicate that pain (at a price). So look for where the Operations manager is having pain and focus on the challenge that provides the opportunity to create innovative solutions. This makes innovation real, not abstract, not “the fad of the month”. Once there is some payback on initial innovation, people become more willing to take risks. Make sure everybody knows about the innovation too. Success breeds. Make it simple. Make it real. I worked in the payment industry and one thing I learned is that if you make the product simple enough for the user, they will use it (and vice versa). My son...
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