All comments posted on this blog do not reflect the opinions of any organization that I am affiliated with. These are my personal perspectives only.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Kindergarten Creativity: How to break out of the box!

A group of concerned executives of a large firm gathered together to address a pressing issue that could literally destroy their company. They needed to collaborate.

"How many of you are, artists?" asked the facilitator

2 of the 30 put up their hands.

"If I had asked that same question to a group of Kindergarten kids, all of them would have raised their hands." responded the facilitator.

Over time, we incorrectly "grow out of" being artists and transform ourselves into professionals. As if these two things need to be separate. This chips away at our ability to be creative.

We learn from experience, how to get things done, and we validate it every time we apply a proven process to resolve a problem. We become experts in our fields of choice. The more success we have, the more confident we are in our capabilities and skills.

As creatures of habit, we apply mental shortcuts without even knowing it. We identify common patterns and resolve problems as we always have. We see what we want to see, and dismiss those things that don't fit into our paradigm. This is usually a good thing, since most of the problems we'll face are variations of problems we already solved so we are thinking efficiently without having to "re-invent the wheel" every time.

A challenge occurs though when we're suddenly faced with a problem that our mental shortcuts can't resolve. The rules, and logic we've built over time will not allow us to resolve the problem. We are unable to be "creative."

"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education." - Einstein

It's in these situations that we most need to gain new perspectives, some of them radically different then our own.

But how does one "change their thinking"?

One of the most effective ways is to concede that it will be extremely difficult for you to truly change your thinking. You are a product of your experiences. So instead of struggling, reach out to others who have different experiences and perspectives. Collaborate!

The Gold Corp story that Tapscott references, illustrates this. Through mass collaboration, radical ideas and concepts ultimately saved Gold Corp from bankruptcy. These solutions did not come from their expert geologists but from groups of people who may never have spent a day in the mining industry but were experts in all-together different disciplines with completely different ways of thinking.

It doesn't have to be mass collaboration either. In several situations, mass collaboration is completely in-appropriate. Collaboration in any size can produce creative breakthroughs. The challenge in any type of collaboration is how to ensure people are capable of understanding the perspectives of others, especially when they run counter to ones own paradigm.

A technique that's been used for several years is graphic facilitation. The use of images and graphics, often allows us overcome the limitations of language as we each try to articulate our concepts. You might be surprised by what happens when 2 people are arguing over a point and you ask them to draw their point. They often gain a completely different level of understanding and retention. Sometimes they realize they were actually arguing the same point.

As the 2.0 world grows, so does the opportunity to achieve creative breakthroughs as long as we're willing to accept that there are "multiple versions of the truth".

"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." - Einstein again...

Thanks to Lisa, Disa and Caroline for the inspiration for this post.

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