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Creativity & Innovation Meetings

Creativity Techniques

Achieve the highest quality solutions to a problem.

By Edward Glassman, PhD | Updated July 20, 2018

I list here the steps and techniques of creative thinking described in my book in a sequence to achieve the highest quality solutions to the problem. Your creative thinking will soar as you use them on a regular basis. The following 8-step sequence creates focus and clarity:

STEP 1: Define Problems Creatively, the 1st Key Creative Step.

  • List dozens of "How to" Problem statements
  • Analogies And Metaphors
  • The Problem's Essence
  • Analogies And Metaphors Using The Problem's Essence
  • Like-Improve Analysis
  • Reversal-Dereversal
  • Reverse Assumptions
  • Guided Fresh Eye Approach
  • Word Substitution
  • Why, Who, What, Where, When, Why
  • Needs, Obstacles, And Constraints
  • Weaknesses Of Quick-Fix Solutions

STEP 2: Identify the Criteria to Select Your Problem Statement.

STEP 3: Choose the Final Problem Statement(s).

STEP 4: Generate Ideas Abundantly, the 2nd Key Creative Step.

  • Brainstorming
  • Non-Evaluative Listing
  • Buzz Group
  • Idea Gallery
  • Idea Card
  • Clustering
  • Brainwriting Circle
  • Forced Combinations and Trigger-Ideas
  • Analogies as trigger-ideas
  • Metaphors as trigger-ideas
  • Pictures as trigger-ideas
  • Random word as trigger-ideas
  • Quotations as trigger-ideas
  • Idea Grid
  • Improve Bizarre Trigger-Ideas Game
  • Weird To The Workable Idea
  • Free Word Association Imagery
  • Combining-Ideas Team
  • Future Fantasy
  • Future Pretend Year
  • Idea Improvement
  • Like-Improve
  • Improve Your Idea Creatively
  • Idea Improvement Checklist

STEP 5: Combine Ideas Into Trigger-Proposals Innovatively, the 3rd key creative step.

  • Forced Withdrawal
  • Trigger-Proposals

STEP 6: Identify the Criteria to Choose Ideas.

STEP 7: Develop Sensible Workable Solutions.

  • Return To Reality
  • Idea Board

STEP 8: Make Action Plans.

A special sequence to generate ideas in a creativity and innovation meeting.

One idea-generating sequence I like to use during a Creativity & Innovation Meeting consists of non-evaluative listing (brainstorming) => => improving bizarre trigger-ideas game => => from the weird to the workable idea => => idea gallery => => idea card.

This sequence starts with the walls covered with flip chart paper on which we have non-evaluatively listed over 150 "How-to" problem statements.

I ask the people in the meeting to walk around the room and check five to ten problem statements which they deem important.

I then ask each team to choose the three problem statements that they want to solve. Note, we do not kill any problem statements, we merely leave them behind.

Non-Evaluative Listing
I start with non-evaluative listing (brainstorming) because it allows people to record their pet ideas. Also, it flushes out obvious ideas, so the more advanced techniques work even better. Still, it only provides a nice warm-up procedure, at best.

I ask each team to choose a recorder and non-evaluatively list (brainstorm) ideas on flip chart paper to solve one of the how-to problem statements. I occasionally ask for bizarre ideas.

Improve Bizarre Trigger-Ideas Game
I now suggest that they do not understand what I mean by a bizarre idea, and ask them to play the improve bizarre trigger-ideas game.

I want to get each person to stretch their imagination and express bizarre ideas beyond previous levels. In addition, it shows the team how to develop an idea no matter how bizarre, and strengthen it so it becomes useful. Paradigms shift constantly.

The game has simple rules. Each creative thinking team has four minutes to generate the most bizarre idea to solve the problem. They pass the idea to another team.

That other team has four minutes to use this idea as a trigger to spark a better idea. If it does so, it gets one point. If it does not, the other team gets one point.

I repeat this game two or three times. It amazes me how bizarre the ideas can get and how ingeniously people use them to trigger useful ideas. I often pass out folded blank flip chart papers as the bizarre idea. Even a folded blank sheet sparks new ideas.

Weird to Workable Idea
I now ask the recorder of each team to divide a large flip chart paper into four quadrants with a marker. Each creative thinking team writes a very "weird" idea to solve their problem statement in the first quadrant. They generate an exotic, absurd, and bizarre idea. They pass the flip chart paper to another team.

This team uses the weird idea to trigger a "better" idea, and writes it in the second quadrant of the flip chart paper. They pass the flip chart paper to another team.

This team uses the better idea to trigger a "practical" idea, and writes it in the third quadrant. They pass the flip chart paper to another team.

This team uses the practical idea to trigger a "workable" idea, and writes it in the fourth quadrant of the flip chart paper. They turn the idea into a sensible, practical solution. In general, the more bizarre and weird the first idea, the more likely the final workable idea shifts a paradigm and creates an original, unexpected outcome.

Idea Gallery
Earlier, I noted the six to ten problem statements that people checked the most. I write these problem statements at the top of flip chart paper, one problem statement per sheet, and attach them to the wall for idea gallery.

People walk around and write ideas and solutions directly on the papers. The ideas on the paper frequently trigger ideas in other people as they wander around. Such movement often helps creative thinking.

Idea Card
People sit quietly for about 30 to 40 minutes and privately write one idea per card on 5" x 8" colored index cards with a dark marker. I ask them to write non-evaluatively. I suggest they use the Zen-like automatic writing principles (see Chapter 9 in my book).

Occasionally I encourage them to write an absurd, bizarre, exotic idea to trigger other ideas. After a while, I suggest they exchange cards in order to relax and allow someone else's ideas to spark new ideas. I encourage them to write down the first idea that comes to mind when looking at each new card. I call a five-minute break after 20 minutes.

As another variation, I ask them to write an absurd, bizarre, exotic idea on an index card and pass the idea card to the person on their right. I suggest they use that idea as a trigger-idea to spark a better idea and write down the first idea that comes to mind.

Idea card gives each person a chance to sit quietly and thoughtfully reflect on the problem, mull over new paradigms they discovered, and to privately generate new ideas to solve the problem. Many new ideas emerge.

This sequence of idea-generating techniques teaches people, in turn...

  • to stay non-evaluative, get rid of pet ideas, and open their minds to fresh ideas (non-evaluative listing);
  • to use bizarre ideas to trigger better ideas (improve bizarre ideas game and weird idea to workable idea);
  • to generate bizarre ideas and force combinations between them and the problem (free word association imagery);
  • to quietly record ideas alone (idea gallery and idea card).
  • And best of all, as all this learning takes place, many paradigms shift, and people create hundreds of ideas to produce a high-quality solution.

Next: Climb the Problem-Solving Ladder

©2011 Edward Glassman. All rights reserved.

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Edward GlassmanEdward Glassman, PhD was the President of the Creativity College®, a division of Leadership Consulting Services, Inc., and Professor Emeritus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he headed the Program For Team Effectiveness And Creativity ...

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