Creative challenge solving

Let me tell you a true story from my work experience.

I started working for a big company several years ago. A knew my manager from the university and I was sure that that will help me to succeed in my job. After only two weeks in the role she called me and my colleagues for an urgent meeting.

When we entered her office she started right away: You know – she said – I was talking this morning to a senior manager in our department and there was this huge challenge that came out for our team. I will explain it to you with several words.” And then she gave us a brief information about the “challenge”.

After this short briefing she explained us her plan to deal with the situation. In short it was like: It is now 09:30. We need to be very creative and come out with a solution until 12:30. I will lead the process because I am senior than you. Will need you to give all the decisions you came to until late 11:30 and after that I will choose the best one to present it further. 

You can imagine that  we didn’t came with  a reasonable decision and we had to meet again to  start the process from the beginning.

In January 2019 I was browsing through a website full of tips how to succeed in 21st century. In this website I found 12 different articles on what skills for the future you have to build today. Then I browsed on internet and found that there are more than 96 000 results (at least what I have found) on the future skills and the gap we are having on them now.

Then I have analyzed information collected and got my own point of view. There is no gap for skills needed for the future, but a mixture of old and new approaches who lead people in a dead end.
Why am I saying that.

The story in the beginning is unfortunately a real one  and shows how mixture of old (hierarchical  approach) and new(creativity and team based) approaches can lead to a dead end in every  solution.

After analyzing information from my experience and the internet I drеw a diagram (my favorite one is the Ishikawa diagram) trying to visualize the challenge and find what possible solution can I offer to the organization I am working in, and to people who consult me on how to change the status quo.

The best answer I got from all this was that if you want to change the current situation you will have to think in new terms, new ways and see the situations you are challenged from in a new perspective. And that is not leadership, not either complex business analysis. The thing that you need is widely explained in Ellis Torrance studies.

He has been named the father of the modern CREATIVITY THEORY. Torrance dedicated his life on studying the phenomena of the creative thinking in personal and professional life of several groups of people. He has left a legacy that will save you so much work on analyzing situations and challenges that you will be surprised.

And if you lead a team, Torrance method can help you build on the challenges by using your team potential.

Here are some tips on how to do this and stop worrying about skills of the future you can’t find at the moment.

  1. Set the ground – talk to your team to understand what really bothers them. YES, them, not you. You need to start  with  building trust about your intensions in others and there is no better way than to  help them before they help you.
  2. Analyze situations and challenges – you have to understand that doing that  alone won’t give you  much. To ensure commitment include all team members in the analysis phase.
  3. Define groups – based on the type of the challenges you have collected,  create groups with  similar challenges inside. To do that  use your team voice and expertise.
  4. Assign responsibility – Do not say to the people that you will lead the process because of your position in the hierarchy. Instead of that choose the person that is most concerned with a concrete challenge. That will build  on your image in front of them and you will ensure full commitment on challenge solving process.
  5. Get brainstorming in the game – What is not important for you is maybe crucial for  others. Ensure and support time for ideas generation for each challenge in the que.
  6. Analyze – I know it sounds boring, but to enhance productivity you have to be on the same wave with others. After each session go through the activities and discuss decisions made or answers generated. Show others in the group that  you understand and accept what  they  are talking about.
  7. Upgrade the process slowly – One mistake I often see is that people start too fast with the main challenge. Don’t make this mistake. Instead of pushing people for the biggest challenge, invest some time in solving small challenges. That will give you time to understand how everyone is contributing in the process and how you can use each member potential in the complex challenge solving.
  8. Plan time accordingly to your team level of creativity – Let’s be honest. Not every  person can come with  an unique solution or idea about a problem or challenge. Do not push  your team far beyond their level  of creativeness. You will get the opposite – people stubborn to the challenge and not willing to  participate.
  9. Recognize – that is often something we forget. Don’t do this mistake. Recognize everyone on the team by saying something positive about their participation in the creative challenge solving by pointing how that has helped the team during the process.

Remember: People often feel shame about something they have said. They  don’t want to look stupid and often that  feeling stops them to be creative. Using recognition will encourage them to share more information and ideas and will help you with the challenge solving.

10. Plan creativity for success – Do not expect everything to happen from the first time. Plan ahead and include in your and your team work schedule repetitive sessions to train creative challenge solving. Use a democratic tool (like voting) to set themes for each session and set clear rule that  the one that  needs the answer will be the one that  will  have to lead that  session. That will help people to take responsibility in their hands and learn how to organize others for results.

Bonus Tip: Do not forget to give enough time to people to prepare for the creative challenge solving session. Preparation is the ground for success. Let’s be creative now approach won’t lead you anywhere.

IN CONCLUSION:

Creative challenge solving is a complex multilevel process. If you want to succeed in it you have to understand that  in this process others go far away in front of you. Your success in the process happens only  if you  make other participants feel accepted and their ability  to  deliver creative ideas/solutions recognized. If you feel  ready to try the process implement in the way : THINK BIG, ACT SMALL. That approach will guarantee you success and sustainable results. Your solutions of the challenges you face are waiting there to be found

So… Are you ready to try???….

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