If you wish to engage in a fruitful workshop that leads to innovative ideas, you may wish to clarify some basic ground rules for creativity sessions. These ground rules have been adopted from the Creative Problem Solving toolbox by the International Center for Studies in Creativity (Buffalo State University of New York). And, they have been proven essential through many creativity sessions:
Evaluation of ideas is not part of a creativity session. This needs to wait to its proper stage. Constructive criticism becomes part of the refining stage. Comments we heard before like “This doesn’t work!” or “Nice idea. Just not practical” kill other good ideas. Participants will not bring up their out-of-the-box ideas – that often start with something that sounds even stupid – because they will be scared to receive this kind of feedback from their fellow-participants and lose face, especially in Asian cultures.
Remember, judgement is not just verbal expression. A facial expression or a gesture can say more than thousand words. The effect of a mimik of disapproval might be even worse than the spoken word. Hence, put your poker face on and, as a facilitator, try to control unhelpful emotions. Best is, keep participants for the whole session in a positive mood. Enforce your ground rules for creativity.
Go for Quantity
In any session we have seen, first the low-hanging fruits need to be collected. This is ok. And, this seems to be necessary. Only as participants are stretched in their efforts to generate ideas, original and breakthrough ideas will come up. This needs enough time. Giving up after the initial phase that delivers the in-the-box ideas means giving up on the quality of the ideas. Quantity turns into quality … after some time, some patience and some “work”.
Build on Each Others Ideas
Ideas generated by members of the group can be the stepping stone to a breakthrough idea, produced by another member. Creativity sessions are team events. Collecting ideas by sending out emails and waiting for the response will get you some responses but hardly some quality ideas that lead to innovation. Take time out for the team and you will get results.
Go for Wild Ideas
Ideas that are completely outside the paradigm could be either very promising or useless depending on the techniques to extract valuable insights and build on them. This process needs an experienced facilitator who is well-versed in the tools and can engage the audience. The team leader is not necessarily a good facilitator for a creativity session. This leader will be rather biased due to his experience with the matter at hand. The less the facilitator is involved in the daily work of the team he needs to facilitate the better.
It is not hard to abide to these ground rules for creativity after some practice. Creativity is not one session. Creativity is a process that needs to be trained and experienced. Only after some sessions, after all participants know, understand and accept the process, great results will be generated.
All these ground rules for creativity help to make your session more fruitful and certainly more fun.
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