#96 from R&D
Innovator Volume 3, Number 5
Ms. Robinson is a human resource development consultant in Austin, Texas, who developed the concept of, and helps organizations implement creativity through, CREA-Teams.
What if you could
find a guaranteed way to:
build a well-functioning team
teach that team to do consistent creative thinking
lower that team's work stress
improve its productivity
increase its members enjoyment of work
help it fit in with its local and global counterparts
use it to spread these benefits throughout your
would have gained an organizational treasure, a manager's dream.
This goal may seem out of reach, pie-in-the-sky, but my
experience says you can realize that kind of treasure by forming
and training creativity teams.
must start with real support from top executives in the
many executives give eager lip service to the need for creative
thinking by their people, few are willing to back their words (or
By backing, I
mean encouragement, resources, and time:
to stimulate interest in improving creativity;
collect literature on creativity
furnish a spacious, comfortable, private meeting place for
supply necessary audio-visual equipment
supply flip charts, white board space, and walls which can
accommodate masking tape, pins or white plastic;
for this training process and for the person who serves as
essential is regular time set aside in the work week for
consistent practice of the skills learned by team members.
A creativity team
is a group of six to twelve people, formed from one or several
levels of an organization. The
purpose of a creativity team is this: for
each member to learn to use and lead creative thinking skills.
Many authorities in the field say creative thinking is not
a rare ability bestowed on the chosen few.
It is, for the most part, a
set of definite skills which can be taught, can be learned, and
must be consistently practiced.
The formation and instruction of creativity teams furnishes
the opportunity for members of an organization to be taught, to
learn, and to practice these skills.
of the Team
Creativity is a
complex subject, and if you want to increase it, obviously your
first step will be to gain a better understanding of it.
Thus the team should start by discussing the nature of
creativitywho has it; what are its varieties, what encourages
and discourages creativity, how it relates to the use of the
senses, and so forth. Other topics that should be considered include how creativity
contributes to organizational success; how the use of creative
thinking relieves over-stress (or distress); how it provides
individual and group stimulation and increases productivity; how
it relates to Total Quality Management, continuous improvement and
increased customer satisfaction.
of the team is to learn and practice ways to get ideas.
These methods can include such things as:
getting clues from pictures
returning to origins
clustering of disparate thoughts
contribution to the team can be training in "The Five I's of
intuition, incubation, illumination and implementation.
The team should discuss these ways to encourage innovation.
Imagery - free use of the five senses:
seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling
Intuition - bringing into conscious focus the subconscious
mind's combination of logic, memory, experience, and the
contributions from other sources which the conscious mind can't
explore on its own
Incubation - the "Aha!" time, moments of insight
Implementation - the essential step of action and
accomplishment, of organizational approval and movement
useful topic is accelerated learning: proven ways of mastering the vast amount of information which
currently pours into every level of every organization.
Effective uses of breathing, relaxation, music,
expectation, constructive play, and repetition without boredom
increase team members' abilities to learn more quickly, remember
longer, and recall more easily.
A team should get
some exposure to training for anticipating the future, combining:
experience - without being limited by the past
expectation - without putting too much faith in surveys and
prognostications based on current data
expansion - based on new, more globally-conscious ways of
Throughout the Organization
Each member of a
CREA-Team is taught to use
and lead the various
creative-thinking skills. Therefore
each member can be the "core" of another team.
New teams form naturally.
After a team has spent adequate time on the
learn-and-consistently-practice process, the team can be disbanded
and members scattered to other teams.
Then creative abilities increase even further as
participants, originally from different teams, relay their
experiences with the various methods.
after passage of considerable time, I've seen teams come back
together and work fruitfully again.
They work especially harmoniously and productively because
they have been similarly trained.
individually and collectively empowered.
The skills they learn become an integral part of their
abilities. So their
sense of self-worth increases as their value to the R&D effort
enhance people's abilities to do various jobs. Inherent in the learning of creative-thinking skills is the
acquisition of interpersonal skills.
This, in turn, leads to increased harmony in the team as
well as improved relationships throughout the work force.
There are many
permutations of the creativity team process. You have to find out which best suits your needs.
You can make great inroads by working on the process
without external help. For
instance, just by setting aside scheduled times to discuss
creativity will begin sensitizing you to the process.
Or you can assign members to read and report on various
published methods, or bring in creativity experts to help you
determine what knowledge and exercises are best for your