Tag: ideas

Creativity On A Shoestring – Get Yourself A Cheap Whiteboard!

Creativit on a shoestringThis article came about as part of a project to create some ideas around ‘Creativity On A Shoestring’. I thought about a) keeping things simple (one of the major requisites for both Creative Thinking and Innovation) and b) keeping things relatively low cost.

Top of my list was a whiteboard. These can be useful for a number of things including capturing ideas when they leap into your head, logging issues and problems and for people to contribute to solving such issues. In fact, you can use a whiteboard for just about anything. The main thing that guarantees effectiveness is its location.

First of all, let’s talk about cost. You can buy a cheap one but it is likely to be small. But what is a whiteboard? It is just a shiny white non-porous white surface so you could use any white gloss painted surface. So you could make your own from a large offcut of wood or (as I did) use one side of a white door. You can even paint part of a wall if you feel so inclined. If you have a home office you might find your spouse or partner complaining about this. Please use the right side of the door.

So where should your whiteboard be located? I am assuming that you have the luxury of choosing a location where everybody in your business, office or team has access. No one person should be seen to be the guardian of this precious resource.

You might be suspicious of staff or colleagues but they have to be trusted at some point. Locate the whiteboard where it can be accessed by the maximum number of people. This could be near the watercooler or coffee machine in a small office e.g. a solicitor or financial adviser. For larger offices, use your common sense (or imagination).

The only major things that you must do are to give people an idea of why this whiteboard has appeared and what it might be used for. It is also important to acknowledge all contributions and suggestions.

Happy whiteboarding!

 

 

Newsletter – Why brainstorming does not work!

Dear Reader,

If you are reading this because a friend or colleague was kind enough to forward it to you, then you might like to sign up for your very own copy by clicking here.

As we are now heading towards the holiday season many readers will be winding down. Hopefully, I can provide a little entertainment and some useful titbits in this rather odd period of the year.


#justthinking

At this time of year retailers are all desperate for our business. Keep an eye open for good examples of customer service, and good ideas generally that you could adopt. I saw some excellent examples of how to treat a customer at a high end candle shop and also a jewellers. At the opposite end of the scale, I noticed some very poor examples at a large chain store. Definitely no Magic & Sparkle there!


#justsaying

Would you like to achieve more with less effort? Yes really. Well a spot of fluffy thinking is what you need. Get in touch to find out how a spot of alternative thinking could help you and your organisation.


How many of you saw the subject of this email and thought ‘What is he on about, of course it works!’. Well for dramatic effect I did leave out ‘a lot of the time’.

Have you had this experience?

How many times has somebody summoned you to a meeting room using the words ‘ let’s go and brainstorm the solution to this problem?’ And how many time has it not worked very well or maybe not at all? And when it did not work did you put it down to the facilitator, or perhaps the problem was too hard, or maybe you just did not give it long enough?

Well, there is a reason for this, you were most likely using the wrong technique! Often we think we know what the problem is when in fact all we know is the situation in which the problem occurs. So, we have to determine the problem or possibly identify a range of potential problems. Next, we must pick THE problem or the most critical.

Picking the right technique

Having done this there might be a range of possible solutions out of which we must pick one to work with right now. Do you see a pattern emerging here? I have briefly outlined four stages which have the format diverge/converge/diverge/converge.

You will not be surprised to learn that one of the ways of classifying creative thinking techniques is as divergent or convergent. Other classifications can be group/solo working, exploring, reframing etc.

Anyway, if you use a technique incorrectly in the wrong phase it is likely not to work very well (or at all).

Let’s return to Brainstorming. This is a divergent technique as it is intended to generate a number of ideas or solutions. It will therefore not work when you are trying to converge i.e. focus on one specific issue.

So when you are summoned to a meeting room to generate solutions to a problem you will generate something but it is likely that you will not have identified what the problem actually is so the solutions will not fit very well.

I have a little black book with around 144 of these techniques, so if you would like to give this sort of thinking a try, please get in touch and I will find something tailored to your needs.

Please do get in touch or provide feedback by replying to this newsletter, or using any of the contact methods listed on the website derekcheshire.com.

Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year to all readers everywhere,

Derek Cheshire

Can I help you to find the difference that makes the difference?

Derek is a Fellow of the RSA, a speaker, facilitator, award-winning radio presenter and Adjunct Professor at VIT University, Chennai. He has been working in the field of Business Creativity and Innovation since 2002.

Does It Have To Be Like This?

Alternative thinkingDoes It Have To Be Like This?

Let’s face it. There is a lot going on right now both here in the UK and in the wider world. It would be very easy to be dissatisfied with everything and say that the Government, Rescue Services etc could be doing better. Why is our internet not faster, why is there not a bus when I want one?

There might be things wrong with these aspects of life but why are things as they are, and could things be improved? The snow got me thinking this morning. How do people drive long distances to get medical help in very snowy places? The answer is, they often don’t. The key word here is drive.

The issue is getting medical attention. If we focus on driving then we come up with suggestions like 4 wheel drive ambulances which would be very expensive when you have a system such as we do in the UK.

If you are setting up a system from scratch then why drive long distances to a patient and then a long distance to a hospital. We could have some 4 wheel drive vehicles together with emergency/trauma doctors that are based nearer to patients and could get there quicker to stabilise a seriously ill patient. What if they need to get to a hospital? Well, let’s have more air ambulances and less road based ones.

You can see where this is going! Focus on the problem and find a good solution, don’t simply take what is there and fudge it. This might work for a while but is not likely to work for the remainder of our lifetime.

As well as applying this type of thinking to social issues we can also use a different approach to many business issues. A good example of this is the use of telephones in Africa. Many countries did not have a large number of telephones because of the cost and the need for wires and telegraph poles.

But much of Africa is flat and the signal from a mobile phone mast can travel a long way. If the cost structure is right then mobile phones become affordable even in the most remote of communities. Charging is also simple due to solar power.

Imagine if this had been a business. Your helpful business adviser could have suggested that you wait for the cost of installing telephone lines to fall and then install a system at that point. But your competitors have gone mobile (high speed, data, the whole shebang), they have leapfrogged you, left you behind.

So have a think about what your issues really are and if there are better ways to solve them. Look for the difference that makes the difference.

Could Creative Swiping Provide Your Eureka Moment This Year?

combining ideasYou may very well be asking ‘What is Creative Swiping and how could it help me?’. Think of it as taking ideas from elsewhere and using them or reusing them. The elsewhere could be from within your own life or business or from outside. Be careful that you don’t infringe copyrights or other rights but do keep a look out for the things that others are making or doing and also look out for the ‘how’.

Apart from advances in medicine or advanced materials, most ideas that can be generated are already in existence in some way. The successful people are just combining them in new ways.

To make the most of this way of thinking try keeping the following in mind when observing the world, not just colleagues or competitors:

  • What else is like this or who else works like this?
  • Does this suggest anything else to me?
  • Has this been done before (even if badly)?
  • What has prevented others from doing this previously, have costs come down?
  • What could I copy (legitimately)?
  • Can I combine this with some of my own ideas or technology?
  • Can this be modified to work in another niche or sector?
  • What experiments have failed in one context but might work in another?

As an example, I was taking  seminar in which I was talking about using springboard ideas and using a list of modifications to make to existing products or services. A gentleman attending had created a pop up book for children on gardening. He left with an idea for a ‘scratch and sniff’ book on gardening for children.

Don’t forget to keep an eye on nature also. As more of the natural world is revealed it provides both new materials, medicines and ideas.

Geniuses such as Thomas Edison spent there lifetime doing just this. Just think what they could have done with all of the things that we can play with and combine now.

Remember, originality is not mandatory but adaptability is key.

Wise Crowding – Have You Tried It Yet?

What do you mean no! I must admit that Wise Crowding is a term that I have only just started to use. Basically it means using the power and wisdom of a crowd (group of people) to help solve issues or maybe create new ideas.

Wise crowding works on the basis that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

So who can use this? Well anybody really. You can run public events where people who don’t know each other come together or within organisations where people might already know one another.

The aim is to find out what skills are available and use them to either solve issues if they can be solved quickly or find a way forward with something that might take a bit more effort or time. You can even use such an event for prototyping a product or service.

So why talk about Wisdom? Well if you collect data it is just that, data. If you organise it then it can become information. Add context and the information becomes knowledge.

Wisdom is the next step up the ‘ladder of usefulness’ where we take knowledge in conjunction with experience and actually apply it to real world problems like the ones you have in your business or organisation.

To find out exactly how this works please do get in touch.

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