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Creative Problem Solving 101: Idea Generation

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  • Creative Problem Solving 101: Idea Generation

    Some tips for getting really good ideas within a small discussion group: based on 140 cumulative years (my grandfather, my father and I) of creative problem-solving. Grandfather started a business that is now a worldwide company (Synectics, Inc); Dad went private and used to get about $1000 per day working with Fortune 500s. I help people for free! :madsmile:

    In a small-group Creative Problem-Solving Session, there is the Client, the Facilitator, and the Resource Group. The Client states the problem, gives some background, and outlines the confines/criteria within which the final solution must fit. The Facilitator guides only in the Session's process, not the content. Content is provided by the Resource Group and Client. The Client and RG do not take any part in guiding the process.

    The best creative collaboration begins when ideas are not evaluated within the idea-generating phase, but rather ideas are used as "springboards" to make leaps to new ideas built off some aspect of the original.

    It is important during this phase to use language that facilitates creativity and connection-making. Using the words "I wish" "What if" and "How to" to phrase a comment or idea facilitates idea generation.

    Such phrases as, "That wouldn't work because", "We can't because", "That's impossible" and "That's not realistic" impedes creativity. There is no exit from those statements; they don't allow creativity to do it's thing. This is why many "brainstorming" sessions end up rehashing the same problem with the same solutions and the same reasons it cannot be solved using those solutions.

    First of all, think of problems as concerns. If there is a concern or challenge within an idea, use the phrase "How to" to frame your concern:

    "How can we achieve the same effect within the confines of our current programming language?"
    "We can't do that, the programming code doesn't have a term for that action."

    Pay attention to the implicit, rather than explicit, idea--the "idea behind the idea". e.g. "I wish all my CDs fit on one disk" = I want to listen to any of my CDs wherever I want, without carrying a whole bunch of junk.

    It's very hard to suspend judgment of an idea's merits, but the evaluation phase should come later, once a good "crop" of ideas with varied approaches and concepts is produced. In a RL consult, this phase would be guided by the Client and the hired Facilitator.

    I'm willing to answer questions and expand on using synectics in creative problem-solving here.

    Once you start using these methods, stick to it. If it didn't work, it would not have made client companies like Nike, Mattel, Apple, IBM, DuPont and Starbucks millions and millions of dollars.

    Living proof that "Teamplay ensmartens the idiotest of us!"


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