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R & D Creativity & Innovation Handbook by Edward Glassman Ph.D.
Edward Glassman : If You Always Do What You Have Always Done...

If You Always Do What You Have Always Done, You Will Always Get What You Have Always Gotten

By Edward Glassman, PhD

Creative thinking fuels your ability to generate an unexpected "new and useful" idea. The more unexpected the idea, the more creative we perceive it. Now it can work even better. An important paradigm shift occurred.

The Quiet Revolution in Creative Thinking

For the past 75 years or so, a quiet revolution has taken place. No longer do we have to wait for someone's brain to slowly churn out a new and useful idea. Now we have hundreds of creative thinking techniques to help generate ideas to achieve high-quality solutions to problems.

"Hold on," you say. "Didn't the old techniques work for thousands of years to produce new and useful ideas? Didn't we construct our entire civilization using those old ways? Why a new way? If it ain't broke, why fix it?"

Of course the old ways still work. And we did construct our civilization waiting for new and useful ideas to slowly appear.

Nonetheless, the new ways heat up the process so we generate more new and useful ideas in a shorter time. And because we have more ideas to choose from, we turn out higher quality solutions. Quantity of ideas often leads to higher quality solutions, and avoids the quick fix.

R&D teams using brainstorming to generate ideas complain that they have trouble sorting and selecting so many ideas. How sweet to move from the old bottleneck of not having enough ideas to the problem of evaluating the myriad of ideas a simple brainstorming session produces.

And Osborn invented brainstorming over 80 years ago, a time when we used the Model-A Ford and the DC-3 airplane. Not a modern procedure at all. Indeed, using only brainstorming today mimics driving around in a Model-A Ford or a DC-3 airplane, ignoring computers, antibiotics, TV, the Internet, the iPad, and the thousands of modern inventions from which we benefit.

Most people do have a choice when solving problems. Unfortunately, while seeking the highest quality solution, they use old fashioned methods with a lower probability of success. They ignore modern creative thinking techniques.

Put another way, the old fashioned way of waiting for ideas mimics evaporating water by letting it sit in a large dish. Modern techniques add heat to the process, and some state-of-the-art techniques act like a blast furnace. Really, brainstorming is old fashioned today.

So move into the 'Age Of Modern Creative Thinking Techniques.' Start using the many dozens of creative thinking techniques now available to help you achieve quality solutions. I describe many throughout this book.

To Achieve Success, Reduce Resistance
to New Techniques

Today, many companies find that creative thinking contributes to a winning competitive edge. R&D teams and people who work alone use techniques to solve problems more creatively. Turn your complacent R&D team into a dynamic creative unit using advanced techniques.

Most people drop resistance once they accept some new ideas:

First, creative thinking in R&D involves an ordinary, daily activity.

Second, R&D people can learn creative thinking techniques. Using these techniques does not turn anyone into an Einstein, but they do help people find better solutions to problems.

Third, people can change the habits that spoil creative thinking and doom the creative climate. Finally, using techniques helps achieve quality solutions and leads to success.

Skeptical R&D people need to discover that many different ways of perceiving a work problem exists, that diverse solutions exist, and that using techniques works, a key change in attitude.

So, if you want to do better, if you want to move toward excellence, and if you want more profitable R&D products and services, start using advanced creative thinking techniques to improve your winning competitive edge. This book will show you how to do it more effectively.

Creative Thinking Techniques Do Help

Many R&D people underestimate the power that creative thinking techniques provide because they persist in retaining unrealistic ideas, especially if they believe creative thinking comes from an exceptional, inherited gift. You either have it or you don't.

Not so. Most of us have this ability and use it everyday. We don't recognize it as creative thinking or even see it as special. We call it tinkering, ingenuity, intuition, trial-and-error, imagination, making suggestions, inventing: anything but creative thinking. We think creative thinking an exceptional gift inherited by other people.

Not true. Most R&D people think creatively most of the time; it depends on what you spend your time creating that makes the difference. Best of all, creative thinking techniques helps solve problems more effectively in all areas of your organization.

Many levels of creative thinking exist, from low daily levels to hot, unexpected levels. Increase the probability you operate at a higher level by using advanced techniques to create a creative atmosphere in your mind and in R&D without pigeonholing yourself or other people.

A Myth About Creative Thinking in the Innovation Process

Some R&D people think that the innovation process only requires creative thinking during the generation of the big-bang idea. After that, its hard, dull work. Purely a myth. Creative thinking solves daily problems throughout the process of innovation. Usually we disguise what happens by calling it something else like tinkering or fooling around.

On-the-job creative thinking spurs the daily, ongoing process of transforming old ideas into new ideas to solve daily problems throughout the R&D innovation process.

A True Story: One Fortune-500 organization invited three people who worked for their best customer to attend one of my workshops on advanced creativity techniques. As they put it: "We wanted to solve our mutual problems creatively, but couldn't because they didn't know about creative thinking techniques."

Last I heard they were going to invite their main suppliers as well, so they could shift paradigms and solve mutual problems together up and down the line.

Excerpted from the R&D Creativity & Innovation Handbook, © 2011 by Edward Glassman. All rights reserved.

Edward Glassman, PhDEdward 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. More »