"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Our mutual friend in the United States, Dr Robert Alan Black, who often travels around the world [that's why he loves to call himself 'Wandering Alan'] to run creativity workshops, & also to meet up - as well as to exchange ideas/share insights - with old friends, has recently consented to allow one of his Cre8ng articles to be reproduced in this weblog.

He actually wrote it during the early 90's, but I reckon his point is still very relevant today, as you can judge for yourself.

"For too many years people have been treated as expense items instead of highly valuable resources.

The highly successful organizations from small shops to corporations and government agencies in the United States look upon people as resources of creativeness. They make their workplaces creative environments. They encourage creativeness. They reward creativeness, extrinsically and intrinsically.

In the September 1985 issue of Business Week the cover story was devoted to how companies were training and developing the creativeness and creative thinking skills of employees. Yet still today, ten and a half years later, companies and agencies continue to overlook this excellent resource.

Research has shown continuously over the past fifty years that people can be taught, encouraged and coached or counseled to be more creative. Four basic creative strengths and skills can be easily taught:

- Flexibility;
- Fluency;
- Elaboration;
- Originality;

You as a team leader, supervisor or P&R Director can help develop creativeness through setting the right climate that will tell people that creativeness is accepted and encouraged in your department.

First, start asking for many more suggestions when you are discussing a problem with anyone in your department or company: Director to clean up crew or volunteer summer help.

Second, keep track of their suggestions and tell them how you are using them. If their ideas are being worked on, keep them aware of the current status of their ideas. If their ideas have been shelved (temporarily) make sure they understand why.

Knowing why an idea is shelved might spark additional thoughts on how to improve or modify an idea to make it more immediately useful.

From now on NEVER KILL AN IDEA: use it, improve it or temporarily shelve it with a specific date to reconsider it again.

Third, allow failure or non- success to happen. Encourage people to learn from their un-successes or non-failures. Fearing failure is one of the biggest causes for lack of progress in the U.S. today.

Fourth, celebrate creativeness. Give out rewards, awards, trophies, plaques, print announcements in your local news-paper or your parks or recreation department newsletter.

Hold celebrations. Have Fun being creative and encourage it! It is a proven fact that creative people given the chance to be more creative are happier and more effectively productive.

Fifth, teach, coach and counsel for creativeness in your department by developing four expandable skills:

- Fluency-ability to produce many ideas;

- Flexibility-ability to produce a varied mix of ideas;

- Elaboration-ability to add detail, depth, mixtures of viewpoints or perspectives;

- Originality-uniqueness, novelty, newness, creativeness (new) or informativeness (improvement of existing);

Practise Fluency during staff meetings by holding fun creative thinking sessions: Brainstorm for 100 different uses for everyday objects (sponge, toothpick, eraser, brick, paper clip, etc.).

After you reach 100 with a few everyday objects begin working on work-related objects just for fun first until you can reach 100 easily then begin applying your knew fluency to every day work situations or problems.

Practise Flexibility during meetings once a week or month by listing 50 totally different kinds of uses for everyday objects. Then move on to work related challenges.

Practise Elaboration by taking turns describing something with a minimum of 75 separate details using all the physical senses (hobby, TV show, tree, cat, an athletic event, etc.).

Practise Originality by picking one household item or something you could find in any convenience or hardware store and list 25 to 50 uses for it you have never heard of before (spoon, toothbrush, napkin).

The key to developing creative thinking abilities is practise, practise, practise, and practise still more, while working at helping yourself and the people in your department to become more creative every day!

If you encourage people to spend simply 10% of their week (4 hours, 240 minutes/48 minutes a day) focusing on developing and being creative you will see fantastic growth and expansion in your department and will experience a worthwhile side benefit: increased morale and dedication.

Creativeness is one ability that knows no limit. Good luck in continuously improving your creativeness from now on!"

Many thanks, Alan, for sharing!

[Dr Robert Alan Black or 'Wandering Alan', runs his own workplace creativity consulting outfit. He is also the author of 'Broken Crayons: Break Your Crayons & Draw Outside the Lines'. The book is available from Amazon.

By the way, here's also a link to many of his other interesting Cre8ng articles.]

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