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An MBA exam on ‘Creativity, Innovation & Change’

As a postgraduate student of the Masters in Open & Distance Education I should reflect on the value and purpose of the end of module written exam; unlike my undergraduate course this doesn’t count for everything, there have already been three marked assignments. I scrape a pass here of 40% and I come out with an overall score of 66%.

Whilst ‘business’ has never been my forte as a subject or manager in a large organisation I think I can get a mark in the 60s.

During the revision process I have written nine essays all will be written up, embellished and posted. I know that the necessary process of addressing a theme, developing six or so points and providing the requisite introduction and conclusion will make these more focused than my usual stream of consciousness or notes, perhaps making them more readable and valuable pieces.

For sure I have rediscovered the value of shutting myself away for three hours at a time with nothing but pen and paper.

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John Cleese on how to be creative (seriously)

This works for me and plays directly into B822 ‘Creativity, Innovation & Change’.

Listen then act.

John Cleese on Creativity

I’m going create the space and make the time! And play.

  1. Space
  2. Time
  3. Time
  4. Humour

John Cleese on Creativity

… and the importance of the unconscious.

  • Sleeping on it.
  • Writing it out a second time having lost the original.
  • The danger of interruption
  • We do not get our ideas from our laptops.
  • Create boundaries of space (to avoid interruptions)
  • Create time

FURTHER READING

Amabile, T. M. & Sensabaugh, S. J. (1985).  Some factors affecting organizational creativity:  A brief report.  A paper presented at the Creativity Innovation & Entrepreneurship Symposium at the George Washington University, Washington, D. C.

Ekvall, G. & Arvonen, J. (1983). Creative organizational climate:  Construction and validation of a measuring instrument.  Stockholm, Sweden:  The Swedish Council for Management and Organizational Behavior.

Gryskiewicz, S. S. (1982).  Creative leadership development and the Kirton adaption-innovation inventory.  An invited paper delivered at the 1982 Occupational Psychology Conference of the British Psychological Society meeting on “Breaking Set:  New Directions in Occupational Psychology” at Sussex University, Brighton, England.

MacKinnon, D. W. (1961). Creativity in architects. In D. W.

MacKinnon (Ed.), The creative person (pp. 237–251). Berkeley: University of California, Institute of Personality Assessment Research.

MacKinnon, D. W. (1978). In search of human effectiveness: Identifying and develop

MacKinnon, D. W.  (1978). In search of human effectiveness:  Identifying and developing creativity.  Buffalo, New York:  Bearly Limited.

Creative Problem Solving and the Buffalo in the room

A week away from an end of module exam completing the Open University Business School Module ‘Creativity, Innovation & Change’ (B822) explains my unusual absence from the blogosphere (or at least this part of it). I am re-learning how to write long hand. The last time I sat an exam I used a fountain pen, this time round I am resolved to using biros. As a sports coach I should understand that I am about to put my hand through a marathon and that lack of the right kind of training means I will get cramp.

When will it be possible to sit an exam and type up a response?

Meanwhile I stumbled upon this. It is timely for anyone faced with an exam on 24th April for B822 ‘Creativity, Innovation and Change’, so much so I am going to transcribe this, analyse and learn its lessons as going through old exam papers this short video, in a fun and engaging way, answers to questions precisely.

This is why I chose to study B822 as an elective within the Masters in Open & Distance Education.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFYLeT9q8tk

Is labelling people with results from inventories such as ‘Kirton Adaptor Innovator’ or ‘Myers Briggs Type Indicator’ (KAI/MBTI) such an excellent way to ‘reduce the range of their possible behaviours’?

Discuss, asks an exam question from B822 ‘Creativity, Innovation & Change’

This one got my goat, which may be a good thing as I’d probably execute the thing in a state of quiet anger, adrenalin pumping and doing a brain extraction at speed and with passion.

I have an issue with ‘labelling’ anyone as restrictive. In any case, Kirton himself talks of people ‘reverting to type’ under stress as if being stressed is the modus operandi. Kirton puts me well into the innovator camp, however under stress I become an autocratic, process focused adaptor. (I like to find others to take the stress, which in advertising/agency work is the account handler, and when I had one as a writer/director, an agent or publisher to handle the opportunities and the c/r/a/p)

Whilst KAI mostly and MBTI in part, with a nod to Belbin Team roles (however much decried) it is vital to balance the benefits and problems with inventories, so mention:

  • fallibility
  • reliability
  • acceptance
  • interpretation
  • cost
  • universal/updated
  • as well as the context, time and their use.

I would query the use of the word ‘excellent’ in the question too, as dependant on context and application; it is a subjective, value judgment.

I question ‘reducing’ range of favours as wrong-headed, that it is better to manage like a sports coach, to identify, enhance and develop traits that are beneficial rather than in any way draw attention to behaviours that are ‘undesirable’ or at most ‘not required’. (I’m a professional swim coach so may draw on some theory and experience in the largest Swimming Club in the South of England).

Using one’s own Myers Briggs indicator seems inevitable here. I came out as:

  • ‘ENFP’. How does this inform my response to the question?
  • ‘does things differently’ so in theory am useful at times of change.
  • ‘challenges and reframe’ so add value through innovation
  • ‘offers many solutions’ and am ‘inclined to indiscipline’ both which may therefore relate to the question and a need to ‘reduce the range of behaviours’ ?
  • takes risks which in the right context may be either highly desirable or undesirable.
  • something of an idealist, again context matters as I respond to visionary leadership and wilt where it is lacking.

My NEO-FIVE was revealing too, and once again, may help me answer this question (if of course I have understood the question) as taming or ameliorating behaviours.

I’d need to list:

  1. Openness
  2. Conscientiousness
  3. Extrovert
  4. Agreeableness
  5. Sensitivity

and whether I can recall the score or not at least recall that in relation to the mean I am significantly diverged from the mean in relation to ‘Openness’ (I am open to the degree of exposure and making myself vulnerable and may do the same for a project or organisation); I am hugely diverged from ‘conscientiousness’ (I am very much so) and ‘Sensitivity’ (ditto).

See, I’m prone to excessive ‘openness’.

‘Reduce the range or behaviours’ in this case if I reduce myself to an ‘example’ or ‘case study’ requires compensatory actions.

Specifically in the creative industries there are stories of highly creative types whose ‘sensitivity’ is legend, in my experience (not me!) a v. successful creative now the Creative Head of one of the largest agencies on the planet, back in the late 1980s threw a video recorder out of the agency window when he disagreed with the producer of his TV commercial. Did this person need what Goleman (1998) calls ’emotional maturity’? Letting a ‘creative’ be so is the way to get the best from them, and in less extreme or pressured circumstances those who come up with ideas and innovate, whether products, processes or services require careful handling. The opera sometimes needs a prima donna? Are athletes and sports people ‘creative’ some would say so?

So, pluralism and acceptance, not reducing behaviours favourable to creativity, indeed nurturing creative ‘types’ and playing to their strengths is going to be the best approach. Respect difference and deal with the reality.

Is that Goleman too?

Motivation (and nurturing) is key: climate, customer, mentality, procedure, communication (Brown, 1988)

Once again, a twisting though ultimately conclusive response? Or have I gone off on a tangent.

Creative Problem Solving (CPS) Workshop

I had a Swim Plan; the idea worked on several levels.

As a professional swimming coach (squads to Regional & National Standard) I am used to planning many hours or ‘activity’ that in some cases operate within tolerances of PB+/- 5 seconds. i.e. within 5 seconds of their ‘Personal Best Time’. With this exercise I built-in +/- 5 minutes with a set of exercises where none lasted longer than 15 minutes.

For the fun of it the group were shown how to scull in a couple of minutes at the start, then how to flutter kick at the end.

I doubt this used up more than 90 seconds in total of a 90 minute CPS workshop.

There were several formal CPS techniques, two quite physical the others more cerebral.

  1. Samurai, Mother-in-law, Tiger
  2. Human Sculpture
  3. Problem Definition
  4. Help/Hinder (See Above)
  5. Problem Review
  6. Time Line
  7. Advantages, Limites & Unique Qualities

There diverge/converge pattern was followed, though I am glad I came across the idea of ‘clustering’ as this better represented an intermediary phase that occurred more than once.

I am looking at where to go next with these as being someone who clearly likes being on their feet, directing and coaching (I have directed well over 150 training & information videos in my career, often with actors or large teams) I rather took to the unscripted, guided improvisation that is the lot of the facilitator.

 I was a Wembley Arena on Saturday for the induction of some 10,000 of us ‘Games makers’.

Now that would be a group to facilitate!

Are you in Kirton Adaptor-Innovation terms an ‘adaptor’ or an ‘innovator?’

Adaption-Innovation

There are two styles of decision making. (Kirton, 1976, 1977, 1980)

  • Adaptors ’stretch’ existing agreed definitions. They proceed within the established mores. Dominates management.
  • Innovators ’reconstruct’ the problem, they separate it, emerging with much less expected and probably less acceptable solutions.

‘They are less concerned with ‘doing things better’ than with ‘doing things differently’.

Across a population, Kirton and others have tens of thousands of people to go on from completed inventories to go on, there is a Normal curve of distribution (Kirton, 1977)

I am an innovator and somewhat out on the far edge of the scale. Does this render me and people I have met who are ’innovators’ unemployable? With certain teams, in certain organisations we are incompatible unless you want us there to act as a catalyst, consultant or communicator.

Any problem goes through a series of stages:

  • Perception of the problem
  • Analysis of the problem
  • Analysis of the solution
  • Agreement to change
  • Delegation
  • Implementation for most was two/three years after the problem became apparent, whilst a few were tackled with the bare minimum of analysis. Objections were often only overcome (then collectively forgotten) as a result of some crisis. Rejection was often based on WHO was putting the idea forward.

Cf. P111

Disregard of convention when in pursuit of their own ideas has the effect of isolating innovators in a similar way to Roger’s (1957) creative loners.

32-item inventory, theoretical range of 32-160 and a mean of 96.
Cultural innovativeness see Indian Women p114
Solutions sought within the structure by adaptors so nothing changes.

‘Tolerance of the innovator is thinnest when adaptors feel under pressure from the need for imminent radical change.’ Kirton (2011:115)

It is unlikely (as well as undesirable), that any organization is so monolithic in its structure and in the ’demands’ on its personnel that it produces a total conformity of personality types. P115

How an innovator or adaptor can be an agent of change where all around have a cognitive style alien to his own. Kirton (2011:117)

Reference

Kirton. M.J. (1984) Long Range Planning 17, 2, 137-43 in Henry.J. Creative Management & Development 3rd ed. pp109 (2011) Ch8 Adaptors and Innovators: why new initiatives get blocked. M.J.Kirton
Kirton.M.J.(1977) Manual of the Kirton Adaption-Innovation Inventory.
Rogers.C.R. (1957) Towards a theory of creativity. In H.H, Andersen. Creativity and its cultivation. Harper.

Creative Problem Solving Techniques

 

Rob’s group 2nd day pm Thursday 12th January 2012

X8 Techniques tried

Mice out of a box

Rabbit out of a hat

David HQ to Europe business and separate businesses with undercutting control from US Gunter in Fool’s hat (distinctly uncomfortable and soon removed it) persona – not for profit

B822 Superheroes

People don’t play unless they dress up.

Exception the drunk Irish.

Finger puppets – story of senior engineer at BAE who didn’t want to give up his puppet.

Finger painting – kinaesthetic and visual

Swim coach and 80 swimmers

List and triangulate

IMAGE getting stuff out on the table in open ways.

ONLINE B822 Techniques Library : Drawing

INSERT IMAGE (pool with swimmers and one coach)

Finger painting

Needed to let go more before hand to conjure up an abstract image of the problem. Became too left brain by explaining rather than simply expressing. I should have suspended judgement more. Could have associated with words. There are other ways to use images to prompt comments. Could have created a rich picture (even hired a cartoonist or artist to do this).

IMAGE

‘For many of us drawing a picture is closer to how our thoughts grow naturally’.

REFERENCE

Adapted from: Miller, W.C. (1987) The Creative Edge: Fostering Innovation Where You Work, Reading, MA, Addison-Wesley, pp. 91-5

SEPARATE FILE B822 Techniques Library : Role storming (other group) Griggs (1985) idea generation as someone else. Easier to be silly in character (see Superheroes)

1) start with conventional brainstorming to sift ideas.

2) individual or joint role play to develop it further.

REFERENCE

Griggs, R.E. (1985) ‘A Storm of Ideas’, reported in Training, 22, 66 (November) Based on: VanGundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, 2nd ed., Van Nostrand. Technique 4.48, p. 163

PRECEPTS CHECK

  • Know what you really want
  • Involve others
  • Value play
  • Adopt a set to break sets
  • Explore the givens
  • Broad picture local detail
  • Build up, don’t knock down
  • Live with looseness
  • It is there already
  • Connect and be receptive
  • Cycle often and close late
  • Manage the process

This need to be expressed as a table and all the ideas we used then placed on it and cross-referenced.

RELAXATION PROCESS

INSERT

IMAGE OF HOUSE Off the Military Road on the way to Mowden.

We did a relaxation technique that had me fall asleep.

10mins to sleep Tense and relax body Leave x to country A river A bridge A house A spa And I fell asleep.

STOP TECHNIQUE

Three breaths Out the toes Why? MASSAGE TECHNIQUE Appropriateness of a neck massage Five of us did. What technique? (see final day) —

VALIDATION

Size Too many/few Context May need incremental approach with ‘s’ types.

Belbin types and too many plant types

Resources Time required Permission or contract with everyone if it may become personal. Have to think it through Trained to do it. (do you want the Line Manager there? not if they may unbalance it) Embarrassment (how do you take them there) E.g taster sessions to start with

I now understand why people say the course changes lives, because it teaches you problem solving techniques that can be applied to all manner of issues. Most potentially life changing for me to see a problem resolved, to visualise it then working back from this til it is all joined up and works. This can be applied to fiction; everyone had a good idea for a story, the trick is to know its ending and work back from this finding away to create steps to the beginning and then to write this up as a treatment without deviation. With very risk averse people go with a list. Or ask them how much risk? Expectation to behave in a crazy way. Being outcome focussed may permit people to go along with it.

VALIDATION

This proved to be a fascinating and engaging exercise where we saw the fruits of our efforts beginning to deliver results. lots of ideas Scoreboard of: Resources Cost Time Voting Use a pen Or 3-5 dots A nominal group technique (if there are many ideas) VS a group decision. Validation Panel consensus Why use one and not another. Filter Q- sort

INSERT IMAGES

Criteria VS options Weight % Criteria across the top Options vertical Option high low Can indicate all options and show choices. A, b, c, d

INSERT IMAGES

Two relate, constraining factors Restraints y axis Drivers x axis Developed an idea with David Gunter developed a further idea with David (akin to Comparison Tables) Gunter was always looking for ways to measure. I presented a filter process using either dots or weighted marking with the reserved ideas going to the next level of expertise and authority, using army and legal analogies: associate to partner, partner to barrister, barrister to judge. Private to middle ranking to senior officer. ‘Progressive hurdles’ suggests setting specific sieves such as cost. Ratings to can offer a blunt ‘yes – no’. Ending with full cost business and Market analysis.

REFERENCE

Derived from: Hamilton, H.R. (1974) ‘Screening business development opportunities’ Business Horizons, August, pp. 13-24 Based on VanGundy, A.B (1988) Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, 2nd ed., Van Norstrand Reinhold. technique 5.02. pp. 213-17

B822 Techniques Library : Comparison Tables A widely used approach, from the B822 Course Team.

SEE IMAGE

Another that Gunter adapted was: B822 Techniques Library : Force-Field Analysis Derived on Gestalt techniques of Kurt Lewin. Identify the driving and restraining factors SEE IMAGE (I might slant restraining forces to the left, driving forces pushing to the right) Blend of techniques. Then in relation to precepts? Wanting something that is achievable with the resources. Not play, but exploring the givens.

ONLINE B822 Techniques Library : Bunches of Bananas Bringing out the bananas is one approach, otherwise it could be a well placed joke or image. Lateral thinking techniques are often as much about reducing excessive left-brain attention. 1) Are there signs of stuckness? 2) Bring out the ‘bunches of bananas’ or some such to help unstick. 3) N.B. just as with a comedian it is just as much about delivery.

REFERENCE

Adapted from: Richards, T. (1998) Creativity at Work, Aldershot, Gower, pp. 80-2 ONLINE

B822 Techniques Library : Random Stimuli of Various Kinds 1) Identify what it is you want ideas for. 2) Grab an idea from a paper, from looking out of the window, or by throwing dice. 3) Connect this idea back to the issue, if necessary using Free Association or Excursion. 4) If it doesn’t work try something else. Could pick a fixed or specific element of the problem and do the same. * Select grammatically appropriate stimuli: noun+verb, adjective+noun, but make bizarre combinations (which is how David Bowie often wrote song lyrics). * Deliberately do something different, or speak to someone new or travel home in a different way. * Allow the idea to incubate while going about your normal day.

REFERENCE

Whiting (1958), Taylor (1962), de Bono (1970), Rickards (1974) and VanGundy (1988).

B822 Techniques Library : Excursion As part of synectics developed by Gordon and Prince (1972).

An attempt to use metaphor as an aid to creativity in a systematic way.

1) Problem statement

2) Select trigger object (smiling lobster)

3) Examination of this trigger

4) Force fit back to the problem + role into several other techniques: examples, analogies, career excursion, representation in other media, random stimuli, street excursion, essential paradox.

REFERENCE

Prince,G.M. (1970) The Practice of Creativity, New York, Collier MacMillan, Chapter 5. Nolan, V. (1989) The Innovator’s Handbook

Next Post

Griggs (1985) idea generation as someone else.

Easier to be silly in character (see Superheroes)

1) start with conventional brainstorming to sift ideas.

2) individual or joint role play to develop it further.

Our subgroup we busy having a go with finger paints while our fellow participants went off with balloons and masks. One of this number then spent much of the afternoon, even after the session, with two balloons stuffed up the front of his jumper. (We’re an all male group).

The night before someone had played another participant’s wife in a ‘Human Sculpture’. You get used to the idea of this, yet another person had been ‘The Army, or MOD’ while yet another had been an ‘ego’ as distinct from the person.

This is the point of role play. Feels very Ibsenesque. Or Brecht. Theatre of the absurd.

REFERENCE

Griggs, R.E. (1985) ‘A Storm of Ideas’, reported in Training, 22, 66 (November)

Based on: VanGundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, 2nd ed., Van Nostrand. Technique 4.48, p. 163

The School of Communication Arts

As a 1987 exercise to promote the School of Communication Arts, Designer/Art Director Jan Moscowitz and I came up with this. The Dean didn’t run with the idea, though I have used it successfully as a marketing tool more than once. I’d like to do this as a video, with student heads popped up through a board and a Willy Wonker Dean wielding a hose pipe.

Four hours with students at my alma mater The School of Communications Arts where I listen to six teams out of eight share their thinking on current and past creative briefs on everything from Vogel’s Bread and Nespresso by way of Sodastream and Thames tap water. Great that the OU MBA module B822 ‘Creativity, Innovation & Change’ had something to contribute when I was asked what to do if you get ‘blocked’. I quoted some of the creative problem solving techniques I have used or observed from role playing and human sculpture, to dream working, visualization and mind mapping.

Then a walk from Jonathan Street, Vauxhall to Tower Road, Covent Garden via Westminster and Trafalgar Square to network at a Skillset sponsored event where I met Raj, Natasha and Lesley (as well as a producer freshly returned from Ravensbourne course on 3d).

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