#183 from R&D Innovator Volume 4, Number 10          October 1995

FORUMófrom our readers

The Best Creativity Resource

Iím vice president of R&D in a company thatís second place in our particular market.  The company president feels that if we can just increase our creativity, we'll be able to become market leader.

So far, we've had three creativity consultants work with us, not just in R&D, but in other areas (e.g. marketing, administration) as well.  The first consultant focused on tests to determine what kind of creativity strengths each individual had.  For instance, one person was judged to be better at implementing instructions; another better at devising strategies.  Supposedly, with this information, a manager can better allocate people to specific tasks.  Also, the consultant claimed that teams would become more effective with a mixture of people having different creativity strengths; thus the value of knowing the strength of each person.

I felt this was a waste of time.  Any manager worthy of managing should be able to determine--without these tests--who is best at strategy making or strategy following.  Or who is a better leader than follower.  Or who enjoys teamwork and who prefers working by himself.  In fact, I bet that these tests provide less information regarding abilities than mere experience of working with the individuals. 

The second consultant worked with us in groups to teach us certain "mind-bending" exercises.  She was humorous and the lessons were entertaining.  We were taught how to get lots of ideas from a group meeting.  However, the subjects targeted for idea generation were totally artificial--not at all involving the complexities and constraints that we normally have to deal with.

After she left, we tried her technique on an actual R&D problem.  Had a fun time, but didn't get anywhere towards a solution.  We never again used these exercises.

Consultant number three also focused on "mind bending."  But his games were different--and very time consuming.  They also didn't help us solve real work problems, just artificial games and puzzles he challenged us with.

I told the president that we, at least in R&D, didn't find value in these consultants.  He said that the other vice presidents seemed to have the same opinion. 

I agree that creativity is important, and that anything that will stimulate it could help us reach the goal of being the market leader.  Then I found out about R&D Innovator, and ordered a subscription.  I must say that R&D Innovator has been the best source to stimulate creativity.

One reason R&D Innovator is valuable is that it doesn't pursue the one "right" way to become more creative.  It also ties the creativity challenge with the challenge to be a better manager.  It has definitely improved my managerial skills.

Every two months, a different staff member selects an R&D Innovator article felt to be most relevant to our needs.  And we have a one-hour session discussing our situation in light to the author's views.

I look forward to these discussions, even it it's about a problem with the supervisor: me.  Many of the sessions focus on creativity.  And I believe my group has more of a realistic view of the topic than those three consultants, who only focused on their cute "creativity-enhancing" methods.

I forward my copy of R&D Innovator to the company president.  Perhaps that's why we havenít been encumbered with yet a fourth creativity expert.


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