I have to say, I never thought I’d see the day when aiming to get yourself (or someone else) fired would be on my To Do List, but you know – I have learned in the last two days, sometimes that’s just what it takes to get your ideas from mild to WILD.
The “get fired” strategy and roughly 42 other items are on a list of gems I will take away and implement after the last two days of Creative Thinking: Innovative Solutions to Complex Challenges with Susan Robertson and Anne Manning.
It was a fantastic course, there were 31 of us representing 9 countries and 22 industries.
They say there is strength in diversity and this course certainly was a great melting pot of the minds. There were military personnel, CEO’s, creative directors, educators, famous authors, quiet achievers, global giants, start-ups – and possibly even up-starts (or as we say in this day and age, disruptors)!
The facilitators were fantastic and imparted so much knowledge in such a short timeframe, but everyone bought something to the table and openly shared their own business practices, it added incredible value to the experience.
A good handful of us are also doing the Design Thinking course beginning tomorrow, it will be awesome to continue the working relationships that have formed.
By this point you are possibly drumming your fingers on the table impatiently and saying “but Sarah, c’mon – what’s with this getting fired malarky?”. Allow me to elaborate.
Many of the strategies that I have learned over the last two days were techniques to enhance brainstorming quality and quantity for clarification and ideation. A great way to get people to really push past their cognitive biases and leave their comfort zone (a space that requires some pretty hard thinking), is to give them license.
If you say to someone “come up with 5 ideas about _______ that would get you fired” it tells them that they can suggest supposedly ridiculous ideas without fear of consequences, and encourages them to really think outside of the square. They reach into the unknown, probably into a world of crazy.
They will no doubt come up with a bunch of ideas that are completely impractical or unachievable in their entirety, but that crazy will likely also contain glimmers of brilliance, idea shards that can be fleshed out to produce the kind of ideas that innovative products, services and solutions are made of.
But it’s just one way of getting people to push past the discomfort of stretching their thinking muscles (let’s just pretend thinking muscles exist).
Other ways to encourage people to make uninhibited contributions in group brainstorming situations included:
- Using ideation statement starters such as – “I wish…”, “wouldn’t it be great if…”, “we might” or “what if…”;
- Stick ‘Em Up – shouting out something you’ve written on a Post-It note in front of a group before sticking it on the board, it is a form of a stimulus and also creates a healthy sense of competition;
- Assumption Busters – writing down all the assumptions about a concept (you know they are assumptions when they start with statements like “this always….” or “we never….” or “everyone knows…”), then choosing one assumption and pretending it doesn’t exist, and reimagining the possibilities;
- The rule of 3 – using three rounds of brainstorming to push past system 1 thinking to system 2 brain use, methods such as silent Brainwriting were great ways to do this.
Then there were exercises like Fast-Talking in a pivoting stream of consciousness, the “change 5 more things” challenge, every project has a marshmallow, “have we had enough?” shuffling, “yes and…” party planning, a Jaws Scenario Board and much, much more.
The big take aways from the course for me were a better understanding of the necessity and timing of both divergent and convergent thinking; the fact that framing is a collective cognitive bias that limits our thinking, but that some limits are useful and framing (or reframing) are actually tools we can use as a strategy for stimulating creative thinking; the GPS problem solving method; and discovering which Foresight types were my best collaborating partners.
It’s been a pretty intense, but thoroughly motivating couple of days and I can’t wait to begin integrating what I’ve learned with the Champions Academy team!