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Creativity & Critical thinking

Defining Lateral thinking / Parallel thinking / Creativity & innovation
Clearing out the confusion, this article clearly explains the differences between parellel, lateral thinking as well as creativity and innovation.


How to think lateral?
To think laterally is to make an individual look at something from a different perspective Lateral thinking is an attitude of the mind to generating new ideas and solving problems, supported by unconventional thinking techniques.


8 Blocks to creative thinking
These are the main eight stumbling blocks that keep us from getting in touch with our innate creativity.


Problem solving & Decision Making
Problems are a natural part of our lives. They can of course be a challenge or an opportunity or a situation. In part we will demonstrate our effectiveness in our job role by our ability to solve problems or facilitate this process through our team.


Problem analysis : Fishbone/Cause and Effect diagrams - Ishikawa
This is a simple yet powerful method of visually recording possible causes and relating effect. These help detailed investigation of processes responsible for quality problems. They provide a convenient way of revealing relationships between causes and can help in defining the problem more closely.


Decision making: Force Field Analysis
Force-Field Analysis is a tool for studying a situation that you want to change. The method was first described by Kurt Lewin and is based on the observations that, in general, a situation can be described as a balance between two types of forces.


Solution Generation: Brainstorming and Revers brainstorming
Find out about both brainstorming and reverse brainstorming as creativity tools.


Brainstorming ground rules
For a brainstorming session to be successful, some ground rules should be set and followed by the group. This article lists some useful ground rules to have more successful brainstorming sessions.


SCAMMPERR - Creativity tool
Michael Michalko created a model to help people explore problems and potential solutions from different angles in order to establish the best solution.


De bono's 6 Thinking hats
Dr. Edward De Bono described that when people approach problem solving they do so from quite different perspectives. He associated this with people wearing different hats and identified the different approaches by using hats of different colours. This led to the development of his, now famous, six thinking hats theory.

Definitions

Problem: 'The gap between where you are and a more desirable position.'

Problems are a natural part of our lives. They can of course be a challenge or an opportunity (positive words) or a situation (neutral word). In part we will demonstrate our effectiveness in our job role by our ability to solve problems or facilitate this process through our team.

Decision: 'A choice from known options.'

Problem solving and decision-making are different activities but are closely linked. Problem-solving involves creating more options.  The greater the skill in problem solving, the easier the decision-making becomes.  Decision-making becomes difficult when none of the options is satisfactory. A good problem-solver will invent/create more options and/or improve existing options. Often one option will emerge as the clear leader, whereby decision-making becomes easier.

Crisis: 'Something which arises suddenly or which is unforeseen.' Or:
'Something which has serious consequences for the organisation or for individual(s).'

Important factors that help in being able to handle crises effectively:

• Thorough knowledge of all relevant organisational policies and procedures (eg fire/bomb procedures)
• Trust of team members
• Knowledge of back-up systems
• Emergency exits
• Knowledge of who to contact, and how
• First aid competence (self or know who is trained)

Steps a team leader can take in handling crises:

• Stop and think/plan/prepare
• Ask other people
• Check they have all the information they need
• Delegate/use all the people available
• Warn/advise other people who may be affected

The effects that crises can have on people:

• Suffer stress in crisis
• Start to do things without planning/preparing/thinking ahead
• Can panic
• Make mistakes
• Forget to follow basic rules or procedures
• Forget to consult other people or delegate

 Problem Solving/Decision Making :  Systematic Approach to Problem Solving

1.  Analyse the problem:

What is the problem? i.e. where are we now?
What is the desirable position/situation?
Why solve it?
Who will benefit?
Who will be adversely affected?
How will success/failure be measured?
Cost it: savings/increased expenditure.
Avoid jumping to conclusions.


2.  Gather facts:

Is it your decision alone? - clarify responsibility.
What are the limiting factors?, e.g. cash.
Is it a real or an apparent problem?
By when do we need to make a decision?
What information will help?  Go and get it.

 

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Use the '5 Whys' technique.

1. Why did the car lose control?
• Brake failure

2. Why did the breaks fail?
• Fluid loss

3. Why was there a fluid loss?
• Failed gasket

4. Why did the gasket fail?
• Incorrect installation

5. Why was it installed incorrectly?
• Lack of operator training


Draw on others' experiences.
Is there a better way?

What exactly is causing the problem? What is/are the root cause(s)?
Consider the '6 Ms':

 Manpower (your team members or other people)
 Methods (how you do things)
 Machinery (equipment, tools, vehicles, etc.)
 Materials (raw materials or supplies, products, goods, services)
 Mother Nature (temperature, humidity. etc)
 Measurement (accuracy, measuring the right things? etc)

cause-effect

Cause & Effect Program


Problem Solving/Decision Making

3.  Consult:

Would it help if a problem solving team were created?
If it affects others, ask them (especially your team).
Listen to them.
Check your ideas with them.
Has this issue cropped up previously?

4.  Generate solutions: 
 
Have you examined all options? Done your brainstorming?
Ask who, how, what, why, where, when, AND who else, how else? etc. 
Update your costings.
Remind yourself of what you want to achieve.

5.  Decide, communicate and implement the decision:

People prefer to work for decisive managers (avoid analysis paralysis).
Plan your approach for implementation. Draw up an Action Plan to help you.
Make sure you don’t forget to tell other parties who need to know.
Brief your team collectively (avoids heresay!)
Enthuse and persuade.
Explain why.
Confirm in writing - particularly if complex.

6.  Follow-up and Evaluate:

Monitor progress - quantify where possible.
Smooth out problems. Are improvements locked in?
Analyse success and failure by:
 Checking against set standards or criteria or predetermined targets or objectives.
 Carrying out a cost/benefit analysis.
Are further improvements necessary/possible?

 Why Use a Systematic Approach to Problem Solving?

• The final objectives are identified at the start 
• All relevant information is gathered
• Everything relevant is likely to have been considered
• Vital stages are not omitted
• We are more likely to select the best or optimum solution
• The solution is more likely to work
• Problems are less likely to reoccur
• We are less likely to jump to conclusions prematurely
• We focus on causes and not the symptoms
• We are less likely to adopt a blame culture

 
CONDITIONS These conditions must exist for team members to solve problems confidently:

• The team must understand fully the problem, its causes and the need to resolve it
• The team must know the limits that exist in resolving the problem
• Team must be allowed time and freedom from interruption to work on it.

 A Decision Making tool

 Force-Field Analysis is a tool for studying a situation that you want to change. The method was first described by Kurt Lewin and is based on the observations that, in general, a situation can be described as a balance between two types of forces.

First, the forces on both sides must be identified. Then they must be weighed in terms of the amount of force they exert. When we can see more clearly what these various forces are and how significant (or strong) they are, there is a better chance of bringing change in the direction we seek.
For example,look at the basic force field analysis below you decided to make for the new idea you have for improving service before you push your suggestion to your manager.

forcefieldanalysis2

Steps in Force Field Analysis
1. Identify problem - describe in writing the change desired.
2. Define problem in terms of:
a) Present situation
b) Situation you desire to see when problem is solved
3. List forces working for and against change.
4. Underline the most important forces/give a weighting.
5. For each restraining force list actions you could take to reduce/eliminate that force.
6. For each driving force list actions which would increase that force.
7. Determine most promising steps you could take in sequence.
8. Re-examine your steps for resources required and omit steps which do not help achieve your goal.

 

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Negotiating is a part of everyday life. We negotiate in our work, with our friends, and even our family members. In this two day class, participants will learn what negotiation is and how to get the most from their personal negotiations.

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Using Force Field Analysis as a means of conceptualising a change, highlights then, certain forces which are promoting change and others which are resisting it.  Changing the balance could involve:

• adding or strengthening driving forces
• removing or weakening restraining forces
• a combination of these

Example of Force Field Analysis

Present situation: Unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, gaining weight

Desired Situation: Fitter, more energy, long term health

DRIVING FORCES

RESTRAINING FORCES

Good example to children

Lack of time for self to exercise

Join in with kids activities 

Chocaholic/Puddingaholic

Improved self confidence/feel good factor 

Ready meals on the run/routine

More energy/less stressed 

Stress – comfort eating

Wardrobe of clothes that don’t really fit – economic benefit 

Lack of energy/motivation to get started – easy to put off

Long term health benefits for me 

 

Family history of strokes/heart attack

 

This is a simple yet powerful method of visually recording possible causes and relating effect. These help detailed investigation of processes responsible for quality problems.They provide a convenient way of revealing relationships between causes and can help in defining the problem more closely.
The diagram is created in three stages:

1. Establish what the problem or effect is, start the diagram by putting this in the box.
2. Identify the major causes. The typical headings are Material, Method, Manpower, and, Machinery. Put these in boxes on branches of the fishbone.
3. Brainstorm for sub divisions of the major causes.

 

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This high energy program focuses on the foundational communication skills: listening, asking insightful questions, and interpreting non-verbal communication (body language, voice tone).

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Use large diagrams, as others cannot participate in the process if they cannot see it clearly.  If the diagram becomes overloaded with causes, then the problem is not defined clearly and should be reviewed again. Focus discussion by circling the most likely causes and draw lines to indicate the relationships between them.

cause and effect diagram

Here is an example to try to analyse and find the cause of a simple problem like arriving to work on time. Notice how we put the "problem" in a box on the Effect side (Right side), then we list all categories and all factors we can think of in the Cause side (Left side) and examin each cause carefully. Its a fact that if you analyse the problem visually using diagrams and you have all possible causes right there infornt of you, the chances are you wiill be able to find out the real cause much easier than just keeping it all in your head.

fishbone diagram

banking fish bone diagram

Here is another example for a more complex problem where a bank's senior staff is loosing customers and the senior staff are trying to figure out why


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