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Writers have the details at their fingertips

From E-Learning V

Fig.1 Moon phases in May 1917

Studying with the OU for the last four years it soon become natural to conduct online niche searches for books and papers related to course work. You learn also how to tag, store and gather the information and ideas that you find: this is one answer to that, a blog that serves several purposes, not least as a learning journal and e-portfolio.

Searching for the obscure, that essential detail that forms such a vital part of the sensory palette used by the writer, is as easy to find and just as necessary. This morning I stepped out one May evening in 1917 and wanted some hint of what I’d see, hear and feel: a few searches and I can see a waxing moon at 10.00pm on a cooling evening as the temperature dips below 12 degree C, and the noise, in this instance of thousands of men in Nissen huts around a camp soon giving way to a robin trilling and burbling in the trees and the sound of the sea washing against the Channel Coast.

These details are far more than accessories that overlay character and plot; they are what gives it credibility. Writing on and as the Great War rages requires significant care. The wrong detail will throw a reader, worse I’ll end up in a conversation about my claims. Posting a piece of fiction some years ago an irate reader told me what I’d said was rot and went on to correct me – I had been writing fiction. I’d said that a character called Gustav Hemmel changed his name to George Hepple and fakes his own death – the reality is that he went missing over the English Channel in his plane.

THREE HOURS working on writing fiction, five days a week, is the goal . The OU will have me for TWO hours a day (averaged with longer stints at the weekend). That’s the plan.

Creative Problem Solving: Selling your ideas

B822 Techniques Library ‘Factors in ‘Selling’ ideas


  • Timing
  • Audience
  • Idea champion


Use simple language

Use a clear statement of the need for the idea. Describe the problem your idea will solve and explain why it needs to be solved.

  • Present both pros and cons
  • Provide evidence
  • Stress key points
  • Anticipate questions
  • Be persistent

Based on: VanGundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, 2nd ed., Van Norstrand Reinhold. Technique p. 285

Creative Problem Solving Technique Library ‘Implementation Checklists’

Implementation Checklists (VanGundy, 1988)

  • Resources
  • Motivation
  • Resistance
  • Procedures
  • Structures
  • Policies
  • Risk
  • Power
  • Clashes
  • Climate

Implementation Checklist (Isaksen et al., 1994)

  1. Relative advantage
  2. Compatibility
  3. Complexity
  4. Trialability
  5. Observability

This I can use

Implementation checklist (Isaksen et al., 1994)


  • a. Does your plan demonstrably improve on what’s currently done?
  • b. What advantages/benefits might there be to accepting it?
  • c. Who may gain from it?
  • d. How will adopting it reward others or me?
  • e. How to emphasise its benefits to all?


  • a. Does it show consistency with current practice/thinking?
  • b. Can it be shown to meet a particular group’s needs?
  • c. What group(s) would endorse it, its goals and actions?
  • d. Can it be named/packaged more favourably?


  • a. Is it easy to understand?
  • b. Can it be explained clearly to different people?
  • c. Does it take long to communicate to others?
  • d. How might it be clarified, made simple, easier to understand?
  • e. Can I demonstrate the new/object’s ease of use?


  • a. How to reduce uncertainty concerning its new elements?
  • b. How can the adopted try out sections before deciding to use it all?
  • c. How to encourage adopters to try part of it?
  • d. If it needs full adoption, but they insist on partial trials, what then?
  • e. How to change it to make it more easily tried?


  • a. How easy is it for an adopter to find/obtain it? Is it visible?
  • b. Can it be made more visible? How?
  • c. How to make it easier to understand?
  • d. How to best communicate it?
  • e. Are there reasons for not making it visible now?


  • a. What other resources could help? How best to use them?
  • b. What important obstacle are there? How to overcome them?
  • c. How to deal with challenges/opportunities it creates?
  • d. What might initiate action? And the next steps?
  • e. How to build feedback into it to allow future improvements?


Isaksen, S.G., Dorval, K.B . and Treffinger, D.J. (1994) Creative Approaches to Problem Solving, Dubuque, Iowa, Kendall/Hunt p.305-9

VanGundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, 2nd. ef., Van Nostrand Reinhold, pp. 255-6

Organisational conditions and levels of creativity: notes on Ekvall

QQ1 Do some organisational characteristics promote lower, more adaptive, creative acts but impede more radical creativity?

QQ2 Do some conditions that stimulate the radical block block the adaptive kind of creative acts?

ANS: Yes, but both have their place, as competitors or as contributors in in a production process. Ekvall did his research in an unnamed chemical business with four different factories and was able to compare two with similar activities but differing management processes. I liken it to the ICI Dulux plant (my imagineering), where the successful ‘adaptive’ factory produces White Paints, while the factory where ‘free creatives’ are at ‘play’ this is where buttermilk with pixie dust is made and has found a market.

Edited extract from Creativity and Innovation Management 6 (4), 195-205 (1997)

‘As risk taking and anxiety are ingredients of creative acts, culture elements that make risk taking and failure less threatening and dangerous are promoting of creative behaviour, whereas on situations where creative Initiatives are met with suspicion, defensiveness and aggression, the fear of failure, becomes strong and holds creativity back.’

However, having worked for a period in a highly ‘creative’ environment, there can be too much play, variety and thinking. There has to be an interplay, especially where clients, including stakeholders along the supply chain, are serviced. Advertising agencies have structures that contain the ‘creatives’ in the creative department, their revolutionary and disruptive antics kept well away from ‘planing’ or ‘account handling’, with the accountants potentially well clear in a different building or city.

‘A rational systematic, achievement-orientated culture, an administrative functioning style, that stresses systems, procedures, goals’.

This sounds like an adaptive organisation. It is worthy. Yet, catching a TV piece on MacLaren cars , I was struct how by the impression of a Renaissance studio putting out a series of similar masterpieces. There was creativity, of course, but also a system. The transition to far greater production volumes with vastly tighter turnaround times at each stage and station could be it’s undoing. What happens when the painters in the studio go from working on a masterpiece with a sense of ownership of each one, to ‘painting by numbers’ in order to fill order books?


Using the ‘creative climate questionnaire’ CCQ
Ekvall, 1991 and 1996

Conflicts are negative to creativity, debates positive.

Ekvall postulates (p141) if an organisation working with incremental and adaptive creativity stresses risk taking and freedom? Highly creative people (if there are any at all) with an ’innovative style’ Kirton (1987) will be stimulated and respond by presenting more radical ideas and problem solutions than before’. The ’adoptors’, will be uneasy and lose energy and motivation to solve problems.

High scores may block the radical creativity and innovation but promote the adaptive. P141

The study at the chemical company provides an indication that strict and clear structures, policies and rules are hindrances to higher level, innovative creativity and that more loose, vague and variable structures are prerequisites for such radical creative acts to be prevalent in the organisation.

All para from p141 to p142


Kirton (1987) the innovator is the person who challenges rules, dislikes routine work and takes control in unstructured situations.


For more read chapter 10 ‘Organizational Conditions and Levels of Creativity’ (1997) by Goran Ekvall pp135-145 in Henry, (2006) Creative Management and Development (3rd Ed.)

Ekvall, G. (1997) Edited extract from ‘Creativity and Innovation Management’, 6(4), 195-205

Kirton , M,J (1987) ’Adaptors and Innovators. Cognitive Style and Personality’. IN S.G. Isaksen (Ed.), Frontiers of Creativity Research, Buffalo: Bearly Ltd.

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