Team Creativity At Work-II: Brainstorming Isn't Enough Anymore

By Edward Glassman, PhD

In the early 1990's, the author wrote a weekly column on "Creativity at Work" for the Chapel Hill Newspaper plus many guest columns on "Business Creativity" for the Triangle Business News, a weekly published in Raleigh, NC. These newspaper columns form the core of this book. Edited slightly to fit space requirements (one page), they reflect what he originally wanted them to say. These columns are organized around nine themes: (1) creativity meetings (2) creative thinking (3) creative problem solving (4) team meetings (5) creative climate (6) managing for creativity (7) creative businesses (8) creative people (9) creative community. This book comes at a great time. Everyone wants and needs to achieve high quality solutions to problems at work. Success depends on it. Yet relatively few people have access to creative thinking procedures that lead to the highest-level solutions.

These procedures focus people on the real issues within a problem and on its quality solution. In this book, you will learn procedures to help solve problems creatively. These include: - creative thinking procedures to shift paradigms and produce unexpected new ideas - procedures to change the creative climate so new ideas flourish - procedures to stop pigeonholing people, including yourself, and thereby stop stifling creative thinking.

All three types of procedures are described in the columns in this book. Here's what else you will find. You will discover advanced procedures to solve problems more creatively at work. You will learn how to conduct creative problem-solving meetings at work. You will discover procedures to manage and motivate people to boost creative thinking at work. You will discover habits that spoil creative thinking, and the procedures to deal with them. And, if you are a leader, you will learn procedures to adjust your leadership style to help creative thinking at work.

Identifying New Products in a Creativity Meeting
©2010 by Edward Glassman. Ph.D.

Taken from his book:
“Team Creativity At Work II: Creative Problem Solving At Its Best.”

Creativity Meetings can solve important company problems and, at the same time, teach advanced creativity procedures. I have led many creativity meetings for large and small companies to solve diverse problems, including identifying new products, improving quality at work; increasing chemical yield during a complex process; reducing industrial waste; designing an environmentally safe chemical plant; lowering costs and increasing effectiveness of environmental cleanup for a chemical company; developing a new technology for manufacturing; and handling manufacturing waste for an automobile parts manufacturer.

I consider problem-solving creativity meetings the most effective way to learn creative thinking and to solve important problems creatively at work. They produce hundreds of ideas, which participants screen to produce excellent proposals. The high quality and creativeness of the solutions amaze and delight.

I led a 3 day creativity meeting for 42 people in a moderate sized corporation in Ann Arbor, MI, to identify new products. The meeting was arranged by the Marketing Vice President. Present were the CEO, its President, its vice-presidents and managers of sales, marketing, manufacturing, engineering, and finance, and the directors of personnel and quality. The rest of the 42 people present were key professionals in sales, marketing, customer relations, industrial design, manufacturing, engineering, and finance.

The 42 people formed 6 creativity teams of 7 people each, Each person read sections of my creativity book before the meeting.

The goal was to generate novel and unexpected ideas for new products, and to select new product concepts for further development in a way that upgraded the current approach and raised future creativity levels, showed how to use creativity principles for problem solving, enhanced synergy in the company and built team participation.

The company CEO started the meeting with a discussion of these goals. This was followed by introductions and agenda, the importance of a creative atmosphere, using trigger-ideas to spark better ideas, and generating ideas for new products using creativity procedures.

The second session helped the participants to use advanced creativity procedures to boost creative thinking when solving problems.

The third session consisted of using special advanced creativity procedures to generate new product ideas. About 750 ideas for new products were displayed in the meeting room.

During the fourth session, each participant looked over the ideas, selected and combined those that were of potential use into a one page proposal for a new product.

During the fifth session, these proposals were shared with their creativity team for improvement. The one page proposals were revised and handed in for later consideration. Each creativity team then developed its own blockbuster idea for a new product either by using ideas of its members, or a different idea.

During the last session, each creativity team presented its blockbuster idea on flip chart paper to the participants in the creativity meeting, and received ideas for improvement from everyone. It was an exciting, constructive time.
The evaluations of this creativity meeting were very positive. Top management received many ideas for new products, among them real gems. In addition, the company received 42 one page written proposals for new products, one from each participant, many of them unexpected. And each creativity team had produced one blockbuster idea for a new product. The executives thought the time and money well spent.

I was later told that two proposals were accepted for commercial development.
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