Can the owner of the problem participate in workshops?

IMG_0696YES – the owner is your key person. The owner knows more about the problem than anybody else. If you don’t have an owner don’t do the session. It all revolves around the owner – all we’re trying to do is help. This person(s) knows everything and a good owner is one who is going to be very forthcoming –  he/she will not only answer questions, they often give even more information that nobody asked for, so the owner is critical. The only thing the owner can’t do – lead the session.  An owner cannot lead the session – these two roles must be separate.

One of the biggest problems people deal with are bad meetings. When we ask people how many of them have been in a meeting which was total waste of time, all hands go up.   When we start asking why – what are some of the things that go wrong? Usually the answer is there was no accountability – nobody in that group was accountable. Why in the world would you have a meeting without someone totally accountable? The only reason for having a meeting is to solve a problem that is verbatim – solve a problem, get from A to B.  There is no other reason for wasting people’s time. You have to have an owner involved – someone who’s willing to do something – where the whole subject and the objective of the meeting comes. As participants, our job is to help our owner get into action going all the way to step 8 – action.

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How do you really leverage the Basadur profile in ideation sessions?

Basasur-quadrant-2012 OUTLINES PMS (2)

First of all there are two big things – one – it is fun – people love to find out something about themselves and find out that their way of solving problems is just as good as anybody else’s way. Nobody’s a genius when it comes to creativity and we all need each other.

Second, it helps to quickly introduce this crazy thing called a process. Most people in the world are not at all process oriented they are content oriented. They are all over on the implementation side so the idea that you could use a process to help you navigate your way through a complex thing like developing a new product or solving a problem makes it easy. That’s a brand new idea for most people. They are most used to thinking it’s a bolt from the blue or whatever and so now they understand there is a process – it gives you the navigator carte blanche to lead them through the process so if they’re jumping from here to there and everywhere it’s perfect for you to say are we jumping from “one-to-eight” here or “one-to-seven”. Knowing where we are in the process, using visual tools in each step, allows people to buy-in and stay the course. This becomes a language of innovation – they can ask each other “wait a second now are we optimizing” or “I thought we were still fact-finding”. “We can talk about that and we have one of our colleagues who is a great facilitator.” The idea is just because you are, let’s say, a quadrant 2 (conceptualizer), doesn’t mean that you can’t do quadrant 4 (implementer) work and vice versa – these are temporary states and they can move fluidly. We have a good colleague who gets his participants to all chant “states not traits, states not traits, states not traits” knowing that people will flow through, stay patient, buy-in to each step because they know there is a process to go through.

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Avoiding bogging down

Min BasadurWhenever a good group suddenly lapses into “going round in circles” or adversarial discussions (however unintended or disguised ), a simple process intervention called “debriefing” always works. In debriefing, a group pauses to self-correct by getting out of content and examining its process to intercept further slippage.
MinSight: Next time it happens, try asking the questions “What are we saying or doing that is helping our process?  What are we saying or doing that is hindering our process?” and “ What have we learned about our process?’

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Sometimes you don’t have to know much to be right on target

In gaining acceptance, matching what you are offering to what the listener is looking for is a fool-proof way to success.

This may be difficult because we have all been taught to provide solutions. It requires a mind wrenching shift from trying to provide the right solution to trying to define the right problem.

But how do you know what the listener is really looking for? Especially if they themselves may not know…and are looking for you to lead them.

It is so much easier if you let the listener lead you to where you should go before attempting to push them onto some idea or solution you are “selling”.

This means asking the right questions. If you ask your customer “what do you want?”, you will likely receive answers limited only to solutions they believe you already can do.

Instead, try switching to questions that probe for the underlying problems that might be lurking in behind the request. By asking “Why might you want to?” and “What’s stopping you from…?” frequently to further clarify objectives and hold backs (which may be hidden beneath the surface). These revelations can open much more room for creativity, many new ideas and options. By practicing, “reversing your field”, this will improve your skills in problem defining and framing and let the solutions fall into place.

Minsight : Next chance you get, try engaging your customer in conversation about the challenges they are facing in their work. We call this fact finding . Listen carefully, clarifying as you go, and begin working together to agree on some interesting “How might we .?“ challenges . Only then let the conversation flow toward some optional ways forward you might be able to help with. Let us know how well it worked.

For more on this topic For other related research articles,

To register for our next free webinar on June 16, 2015.

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Evaluating ideas requires a lot of creativity!

Why do so many new ideas fail? Or don’t even get tried? One big reason is that people don’t take the time to evaluate properly. They love ideating, but they take idea evaluation for granted and don’t take the time to do it properly. They think they are finished and either just vote, or worse, jump into action right away. Usually these ideas fail to deliver good results or don’t even get tried, left to accumulate on the “back burner” (also known as “idea purgatory”).

Now field research* backs up hands on experience showing how skilful evaluation can contribute much more to the creative process than merely making judgments among ideas. High quality open-minded conversation is the key. When people listen carefully, holding their judgment, while others explain their initial idea selections, full group understanding increases and (1) significantly improves the quality of the ideas being evaluated while they are being evaluated, (2) ignites new and different ideas to emerge, and (3) results in group consensus and joint ownership of superior final selections. Above all they avoid voting, which leads to winners and losers and low commitment to implement.

This Week’s MinSight:

Next chance you get, lead your group to:

• View differences in perception as constructive.
• Listen carefully to what others say.
• Explain exactly what their words mean to them.
• Don’t argue. Evolve words that bridge small differences.
• Give unusual options a good hearing.
• Not let higher status or more vocal people swing the group.

* To obtain a full copy of the article, please email us. Click on the link for the abstract.

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Does deferring judgment REALLY impact creativity? Or does immediate judgment save a lot of time and provide the hard-nosed focus that real-world innovation demands?

In a field experiment, 112 managers in a large international consumer goods corporation learned to apply a process of creative problem solving to their on the job problems. It was discovered that deliberately avoiding premature evaluation was the key to igniting big improvements in both idea creation and evaluation. This research now supports years of real world experience of the practical value of this simple skill in innovative thinking and decision making.

Deferral of judgment simply means avoiding the tendency to think up a possibility then find something wrong with it almost immediately. When we respond “that’s a good idea but…” to someone else’s idea we bring our productivity to a halt and waste time. Would anyone drive a car with one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake at the same time? Of course not. Nothing would happen except a lot of noise.

Yet that’s exactly what happens in most organizations. We let rational logic take over and evaluate each item of information the moment it comes up. We stop and start, over and over.

Team members go around in circles continually uttering “yes, but”. The team gets nowhere fast and frustration grows. People fear saying what is on their minds. Mediocrity results and implementation never happens. It seems we don’t know any better.

Creativity demands both divergent and convergent thinking but not at the same time. When thoughts can be expressed without criticism, and given credit, fledgling ideas can be mutually built efficiently and quickly. When it’s time to move forward, this behavior carries forward permitting honest evaluation without negativity with mutual ownership. As a bonus, during the evaluation conversation, ideas usually become further strengthened and sometimes brand new ideas emerge.

This week’s MinSight: Deferring judgment doesn’t have to be so hard to do! You can get good at this leadership skill with practice. At the next meeting, why not try coaching the group members to try the “fifty-fifty” rule? That is, devote half the meeting time to sharing thoughts and possibilities then the other half to discussing, building, evaluating and deciding. They just might find themselves in a relaxed, enjoyable session with progress and consensus to take a next step.

1. Basadur, M.S., Runco, M.A. and Vega, L.A. (2000). Understanding how creative thinking skills, attitudes and behaviors work together: A causal process model. Journal of Creative Behavior, Vol. 34, (2), 77-100.

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If you build it, the solutions will come!

16456_wpm_lowresInterdisciplinary teams often get stuck arguing endlessly for and against solutions that would sub-optimize individual members’ own department’s goals. By stepping back to agree on the few key facts which are blocking them, they can free themselves up to define create a unifying and energizing “How might we?” problem to solve.

Here is a real example. For several months an inter-functional team had not been able to make progress. Stepping back, they finally agreed on two competing facts : (1)Manufacturing says that if we lay the potato chip bags flat in the carton instead of stacking them vertically, manual labor can be eliminated for huge savings; and (2) Sales says flat bags will take the grocer much too long to count the number inside before he will pay. Using some imagination, the team ended up with consensus on the right problem: “How might we lay the bags flat yet still enable the grocer to quickly confirm how many are inside?”

This week’s Minsight: Could a nation who helped put a man on the moon figure out ways in which we might lay the bags flat yet still enable the grocer to quickly confirm how many are inside? I’ll bet you have already thought of at least two ideas that would work right away.

Hint: If you are on such a team, try suggesting agreeing on a few key facts and then using them to building a positive, exciting “ how might we?” challenge together.

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