Nurturing Your Creativity
By Lenny Deverill-West
A while back some colleagues and I were ask to come up with a team building exercise incorporating Belbin's Team Roles, and I think it fair to say we embraced the opportunity to put it together especially since we don't often get the chance to work so closely together on something. We quickly set about getting a meeting room to generate lots of ideas on how we were going to do this. However, excitement quickly turned to frustration and 2 hours later we had only managed to talk every good idea we had off the table and we all left the meeting pretty dejected!
And there were a few for reasons for this:
It's really difficult for ideas to flourish when the people are being creative, realistic and critical all at the same time. Which is one of the things Walt Disney worked out and as result set up 3 storyboarding rooms for his artists and writers the first being the Dreamer Room, where all ideas can flourish and no criticising is allowed, the Realist Room, how those ideas can be made possible again no criticising and the Critical Room where Walt himself would constructively criticise what had been created and they would move round all 3 of these rooms until a finished product was produced. This has also become know as the Disney Strategy (Dilts).
If you spend long enough, you can talk even the best ideas off the table. There was an Oscar nominated behind the scenes documentary released in 1993 called The War Room which was about the Bill Clinton for President campaign. There was one bit in the movie where all the spin doctors and Clinton himself would get together to discuss how they were going to run their campaign to get Clinton into the White House and then by the end of the meeting they would have rubbished every idea they came up with no matter how good. What they did to get around this was to have a rule, and that was if an idea was still on the table an hour into the meeting then just go with it. Knowing that sometimes the idea itself isn't that important because whatever the idea is you'll just find a way of making it work.
On the subject of being overly critical of good ideas I was reminded of some advice I was once given, sometimes it's better to ask for forgiveness instead of permission. I was talking to a Team Manager a few months ago who was telling me her frustration at manager meetings when she came up with what she thought were innovative and great ideas around improving her teams performance, only to be met with replies of 'that won't work', 'we tried that before and it didn't work' and 'that's not possible because of xyz'. Which would result people doing exactly what had been done before whist expecting the result to change, which was also Einstein's definition of insanity btw. My answer to this was unless you're like one wage slip away from the sack and it's not going to hurt anyone, then sometimes it's better to ask for forgiveness instead of permission because results trump permission any day of the week. Also, how would the meeting go if you said would you like me to show you how I improved my team's performance?
Put one of the following into practice:
Make your next creative project painless and productive by moving through the Dreamer, Realist and Critic roles individually until you have a finished product.
Implement one idea you have had but for some reason talked yourself into thinking it would never work, knowing that you'll just find away of making it work.
Instead of telling deaf ears how your great idea would work for them, think about how you could get them to want to find out how you are getting your great results