Monthly Archives: May 2013

Build Teams of Problem Solvers

Does your organization value teams that work nicely together, have few personality conflicts and easily reach a consensus? If so, you may be promoting ‘group-think’ and robbing yourself of real solutions, real creativity and real innovation.

At Basadur Applied Creativity, we’ve researched team building and determined how to create business teams that do more than just complete a project or solve a problem. They consistently deliver results that meet and exceed business objectives.

Our research has demonstrated that teams comprised of different problem-solving styles are generally more productive and innovative. Each member brings a unique perspective to the problem, greatly reducing the risk of an isolated or ‘silo’d’ view. Such teams provide a more balanced approach with their own, built-in checks and balances. A properly constructed team will also regulate itself, challenging concepts and ideas.

The key to determining your team members’ creative problem-solving styles is the Basadur Creative Problem Solving Profile. Complete the Basadur Profile questionnaire today.

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Filed under Business, human resources, innovation, Problem Solving

Lots of Ideas Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Lots of Innovation

Innovation has been innovated.

As the concept and topic of innovation has increased in popularity over the last decade, the world has seen many novel and imaginative new ideas emerge about how to create, harness, encourage and source innovation. Having spent my professional life researching, investigating and practicing creative problem solving techniques, it’s a development I find deeply encouraging.

Linus Pauling once said, “The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas,” and I think the field of innovation has benefitted from our collective insights and visions. One of the most interesting developments has been the concept of crowdsourcing, which is based on that very concept of maximizing the brainpower focused on solving a problem.

The concept has been successfully commercialized, with organizations like Innocentive setting themselves up to link people with problems to people with the ideas that might be potential solutions. And so far as crowdsourcing generates a large number of interesting, creative ideas, I’m a big fan.

But we also need to recognize that generating a long list of neat ideas is not innovation. It is not creative problem solving. It’s just a long list of neat ideas. And while I certainly agree with Pauling that good ideas are more likely to be buried in a long list than a short one, the list is really only the first step to providing an innovative solution to a real problem. Like many of the other ‘innovation tools’ that have been generated in recent years, crowdsourcing has some interesting uses, but also some serious limitations.

The most successful creative problem solving arises from a proactive, ongoing, change-making, innovation process. The process begins with discovering problems and ends with action, leading into another round of discovering problems. Generating that long list of neat ideas is only one step in the process.

Equally important to the concept of innovative is that the process be used as a daily behavior by people with the necessary skills, tools and understanding to make it work. It isn’t enough to be creative when it’s problem solving time. Innovation comes about when people have adopted creative problem solving behaviors that are integrated into their daily lives and part of their regular habits, routines and activities.

It’s wonderful that we’re all talking about innovation. But my research has found that talking alone doesn’t cut it. The real key is a continuous process of problem finding, solving and implementing, supported by essential attitudinal, behavioral and cognitive skills.

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Filed under Business, innovation, Problem Solving

10 Great Questions to Launch an Innovation

It’s tempting to believe that innovation will arrive in the form of a lightning bolt flash of inspiration. And maybe for Ben Franklin it did happen that way. But waiting for the perfect storm is a slow route to change. If storm clouds aren’t gathering on your horizon, try a more sure-fire route to innovation. Ask yourself – and everyone around you – some problem-finding questions.Benjamin_Franklin_001

Finding an innovative solution starts with recognizing a good problem to solve. Here are 10 of our favorite questions for problem finding.

  1. Where are the bottlenecks?
  2. What red tape could be eliminated?
  3. What goals do we never meet?
  4. What is the most likely problem we will face three years from now?
  5. What is the most likely problem our customers will face three years from now?
  6. What minor problem could grow into a bigger one?
  7. What would make us happy?
  8. What turf wars are hindering progress?
  9. What will be our biggest opportunity three years from now?
  10. What will be the biggest opportunity for our customers three years from now?

Do you have a great problem finding question? I’d love to hear it.

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Filed under innovation, Uncategorized

Overcoming the Allure of the Status Quo: Five Ways to Build Support for Transformative Ideas

It doesn’t matter how much people hate the way things are working now; introduce a new idea and enthusiasm for the status quo is guaranteed to skyrocket. Suddenly, all the old problems with the old way of doing things will be solvable. But the new problems with a new way of doing things will be painted as insurmountable.

Acceptance of new ideas is often the most important predictor for their ultimate success or failure, so building acceptance needs to be a key component of any change strategy. Here are five ways to overcome discomfort with new ideas.

  1. Share control, credit and ownership. Provide plenty of opportunities for fleshing out the details, offering suggestions or improvements, and recognizing those who build on the idea. Ask for opinions. Everyone is more accepting of ideas they’ve helped generate than those imposed on them.
  2. Be enthusiastic – and honest. Allow your excitement and enthusiasm for the idea to be contagious. But acknowledge your own misgivings, as well. Admitting the imperfection of your idea makes it easier for others to focus on the positive rather than the negative. It may also trigger suggestions for overcoming potential future problems.
  3. Present your idea at a good time. Gauge the mood and dynamics of your group, and find a time when people are feeling positive, relaxed and engaged. Don’t make it easy for people to say no by introducing a new idea when people are upset, angry or about to end a meeting.
  4. Ask your listeners to do, not just to listen. Taking action – even if it is only information gathering – gets people engaged and begins building ownership. It also ensures the idea moves forward to another meeting, rather than being shelved and potentially forgotten.
  5. Make it pretty. Fair or not, attractive sells. Eye-catching visual aids and elements that appeal to all five senses may help your idea gain support, or at least attention.

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Filed under Business, human resources, innovation, leadership