An article in the New York Times last year suggested that creativity is the new cure for mid-life crises. By taking up a creative activity, it stated that we often get in touch with a passion we may have forgotten about or not had the time to fully explore. In doing this, we can find a new meaning to life in a way which buying a new car could not achieve.
Recently I have facilitated three creative workshops, 2 which were focused on creative problem solving and one which was a process of personal development. The common denominator in each was not just that they were creative but that I used drawing, images and collage as tools in the process. The results underline the value in using image based work in problem solving and change. Continue reading “Why image based creative tools are better than words”
It may be helpful firstly to define being creative.
One definition from the Collins English dictionary offers ‘ having the ability to create, characterized by originality of thought; having or showing imagination, characterized by sophisticated bending of the rules or conventions ‘
Everyone has the capacity to be creative, although not all in the same way. I have written before about ways in which you develop your creativity and you can see these here . Everyone expresses creativity in their own way and so it is important to look for ways in which you can or do display your creativity.
What I want to do here is to offer some reasons why you would want to do this.
Re-ignite your passion. There are many ways in which you can develop creativity and by picking one of these and pursuing it you can enter into a new universe and find a new passion. For example I have never written a book and am now following a course on creative writing which is leading to me writing every day and starting to develop a short story or two!
Be creative in problem solving and you will find that your skill at solving problems develops immensely. Creative problem solving enables and encourages you to see the big picture and not to go down the same road each time you encounter a problem.
Open yourself up to new opportunities by developing your creativity. You will start to see the world from different perspectives which will open you up to all sorts of different opportunities
Do things differently.You will start to live your life differently, and enjoying doing things differently will impact on your whole life and create change.
Become more productive and effective at work as you challenge the old order in which you did things and search out new and better ways of doing them.
Creativity leads to innovation and this can open up many possibilities for you if your follow this course.
Finally being more creative will be less boring and you will have fun!
I am sure there are more reasons, what would you add to this list?
Barbara is an executive coach, change and creativity facilitator. She offers facilitated workshops in creative problem solving. She has recently co-authored a book on creative problem solving with Tracy Stanley, called Creativity Cycling. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Creativity-Cycling-complex-problems-creative/dp/0648189244/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1541428054&sr=8-1&keywords=creativity+cycling
Sitting here staring at my keyboard and wondering what to write in this weeks blog led me to a favourite topic of mine : brainstorming.
Now we all know how to brainstorm don’t we? Well actually we don’t.
There is far more to the topic than most of us acknowledge. For example one of the best reference books I have come across on brainstorming, Techniques of Structured Problem Solving by Van Grundy, has a 120 page section on generating ideas, of which many fall into the brainstorming kind.
Brainstorming is used in most organisations and teams at some stage and for most of the time is is completely ineffective. So why is this?
Let me list some of the issues that are blocks to effective brainstorming.
1. Brainstorming usually takes place in a boardroom or seated around a table.
Well actually this is the worst space in which to brainstorm. It tends to lead to a complacency of thought and only logical rational ideas being generated.
Throw out the table, stand not sit, or even better walk outside, and see how ideas flow better!
2. Brainstorming is done by getting people to shout out loud their ideas.
This can of course work, however it favours the extrovert and leaves the introvert out of the picture.
Try a period of silent brainstorming, or brainwriting as it is often called. In this everyone has a set of post-its or cards and writes one idea on each. They then get pinned up and sorted later.
3. Brainstorming is done in 10 minutes or less.
This is not enough time to allow the unconscious to get to work.
Try for periods of around 30 minutes or have intervals of different activities intertwined with brainstorming and change the format of the brainstorming.
4. Brainstorming is about a ‘free for all’.
Well yes and no. Ideas need to be allowed to be expressed freely, however a set of rules is required for the climate to be conducive to effective brainstorming:
- Criticism is ruled out
- Freewheeling is welcomed
- Quantity of ideas is sought, the more the better
- Combining ideas and building on others is good also.
5. Brainstorming is about coming up with words to represent ideas.
However it can be stimulated by images, metaphor, sculpture, etc. The idea here is that a whole variety of stimuli can be used to seek out further ideas around the topic.
Here I have tried to offer some ways of improving brainstorming and have also introduced some different formats to aid brainstorming.
What are your favourite approaches to generating ideas through brainstorming?
Barbara is an executive coach, change and creativity facilitator and is launching RenewYou Personal Development workshops for women in France. These programmes are enabling and confidence boosting. For more information contact barbara here
I have been working with creative problem solving since the early 90 ties and have facilitated very many groups using creative problem solving and have used some of the techniques in other ways, with people one to one and as part of a facilitated workshop on change. The reason I am passionate about this approach is that it works!
OK, so not everyone ‘gets it’ and not every problem needs it. However if you are working with an issue that could be described as complex, messy, involves people and emotions then creative problem solving (CPS) can be very effective.
I have written before about various aspects of creative problem solving but not clarified what it is.
Creative problem solving is an approach that makes use of cycles of divergent and convergent techniques so that there is challenge at each stage of the process to open up to new ways of seeing/thinking. The 3 stage approach which is based upon the work of Osborne and Parne starts by exploring the problem, then looking for solutions and finally working on implementation.
There are certain fundamental requirements for this form of problem solving to be effective and I list some of them here, Please note that this list is my overview and I am sure that it can be extended considerably.
- CPS requires an open, positive approach. We all make assumptions and build up mind sets based upon these. It is important in seeing things differently that these assumptions are challenged. Negativity in this process can be harmful and can shut ideas down. Yes and… is a useful phrase here rather than yes, but.
- CPS works best when more time is spent on the early stages of exploring the problem. What we assume to be the problem may not be at all. It may be possible to re-frame the problem and by doing so, change the nature of the problem, or even see it disappear!
- CPS works best when people are being playful, and experimenting with new ideas. This, for me means taking it out of the boardroom, away from desks and chairs!
- CPS works best with a group of people from diverse backgrounds as this can be very helpful in creating the challenging atmosphere that CPS needs.
- CPS takes time, however I would argue that we often address problems by assuming we understand them and then immediately looking for solutions. This means that we spend endless time on solutions that don’t work and trying to solve the wrong problem.
From your experience what would you add to this list?