Now Go Create https://nowgocreate.co.uk Creativity Training & Problem Solving Wed, 31 Jan 2024 17:31:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.4.3 https://nowgocreate.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/cropped-Icon-32x32.jpg Now Go Create https://nowgocreate.co.uk 32 32 The Zen of One Word: Unlock Creativity with Simplicity https://nowgocreate.co.uk/blog/the-zen-of-one-word-unlock-creativity-with-simplicity/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-zen-of-one-word-unlock-creativity-with-simplicity Wed, 31 Jan 2024 17:15:29 +0000 https://nowgocreate.co.uk/?p=258129 Ever feel like the problem you’re tackling is a big old, tangled ball of yarn, impossible to unravel? I’ve worked with and interviewed 100’s of creatives and one of the recurring themes is simplicity and the art of distilling your problem down to its essence. It’s easier said than done, but there is a tool […]

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Ever feel like the problem you’re tackling is a big old, tangled ball of yarn, impossible to unravel? I’ve worked with and interviewed 100’s of creatives and one of the recurring themes is simplicity and the art of distilling your problem down to its essence.

It’s easier said than done, but there is a tool that I use with every creative brief I work on.

It’s the one-word technique; a deceptively simple tool from one of my favourite and best-thumbed books on creativity – Michael Michalko’s “Thinkertoys” and it’s a great starting point to help you to unravel ‘mess’ and ignite creative ideas.

Think of it as another tool in your creative strategy arsenal. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: start with a simple sentence

Grab your pen and paper. Start by distilling your problem into a single, as-concise-as-you-can sentence. This is your starting point. 

For example, instead of “our marketing campaign isn’t resonating with the target audience,” try “there’s a disconnect” or in plainer English, perhaps “the message is not hitting the mark” or “people are ignoring the campaign” or from the customer’s point of view “it’s not for me”.

Step 2: one word 

Now, review your sentence and ask yourself, “What single word captures the heart of this problem?” Is it “confusion”? “blandness”? “misalignment”? Choose the one that feels like the bullseye.

Step 3: make the thesaurus your creative buddy

Now dive into the thesaurus, exploring synonyms and near-synonyms. This opens up new perspectives and unlocks hidden connections. “Misalignment” might lead you to “dissonance,” “discrepancy,” or even “friction.”

Step 4: dig deeper

What does your chosen word truly mean to you? Write down your personal definition, weaving in your lived experience and understanding. This imbues the word with depth and emotional resonance. “Friction,” for you, might signify a rough, bumpy experience, while someone else might envision sparks flying.

Step 5: dictionary detour 

Consult the dictionary definition of your chosen word. Does it add another layer of meaning? Does it contradict your personal definition? Embrace the dissonance! This friction can spark new ideas and challenge your initial assumptions.

Step 6: the word evolves

Within the dictionary definition, lurks another possibility. Is there a sub-word, a hidden gem that better captures the essence of your problem? Repeat the process, diving deeper. “Friction” might lead you to “abrasion,” or “imbalance.”

Step 7: collective clarity 

Don’t go it alone! Share your one-word journey with your colleagues, team, or even your boss. See what words resonate with them, creating a diverse vocabulary of the problem or opportunity. This collaborative approach fosters a richer understanding of the issue and gives you options.

Step 8: sanity check 

Step back and evaluate it with your team/client/boss/colleagues. The idea is that this pause, this interrogation of the challenge, should offer room for different perspectives and to banish jargony, bland, corporate speak. 

It should also offer different jump off points for problem solving or creative ideas.

Does it ring true? 

Does it accurately reflect the problem without oversimplification? Be willing to pivot and refine, ensuring your one-word compass points towards a solution.

Studies by the University of Chicago found that focusing on a single word improved cognitive flexibility and problem-solving accuracy by 25%. It’s like zooming in on a satellite image, sharpening the blurry edges and revealing the hidden patterns.

Distillation isn’t just a solo act.

It’s a collaborative superpower. A 2020 study by MIT showed that teams that used distillation techniques to identify shared priorities before brainstorming outperformed teams that jumped straight into idea generation. Distilling fosters a sense of shared understanding, a common ground from which creative solutions can blossom.

The one-word technique is a helpful gateway to creative thinking. By focusing on the essence, finding unexpected connections, and embracing collaboration, you can find fresh and interesting creative territories.

P.S. Want to dive deeper? Check out these resources:

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Come vision board with me! https://nowgocreate.co.uk/blog/come-vision-board-with-me/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=come-vision-board-with-me Wed, 31 Jan 2024 16:29:54 +0000 https://nowgocreate.co.uk/?p=258123 A vision board is a powerful tool for visualising your goals and attracting them into your life. It’s like a roadmap for your dreams, filled with images, words, and symbols that inspire and motivate you. Yes it’s nearly the end of January but there’s still time to plan out your creative year! Here’s how to […]

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A vision board is a powerful tool for visualising your goals and attracting them into your life. It’s like a roadmap for your dreams, filled with images, words, and symbols that inspire and motivate you.

Yes it’s nearly the end of January but there’s still time to plan out your creative year! Here’s how to create your own masterpiece:

  1. Dream Big:
    Take some quiet time to reflect on your deepest desires. What do you truly want to achieve in different areas of your life? Career, relationships, health, travel, anything goes! Write down your goals and aspirations without holding back.
  2. Gather Inspiration:
    Browse magazines, Pinterest boards, websites, or even your own photos for visuals that resonate with your goals. Images of dream destinations, motivational quotes, inspiring individuals, or anything that sparks joy and excitement are fair game.
  3. Get Creative: ✂️
    This is where the fun begins! Cut out your chosen images and quotes, or print them if needed. Use colorful markers, paint, glitter, or any other embellishments to personalize your board and make it truly your own.
  4. Arrange with Intention: ✨
    Think about the different areas of your life you’re focusing on and arrange your elements accordingly. You can create sections for career, relationships, personal growth, etc. Don’t overthink it – let your intuition guide you!
  5. Find a Special Spot Where You Can See Your Board:
    Place your vision board somewhere you’ll see it often – your bedroom wall, your desk, or even your fridge! The constant visual reminder will keep your goals top of mind and fuel your motivation.
  6. Bonus Tip: ✨ Infuse your vision board with positive affirmations! Write down short, powerful statements that embody your desires and beliefs. For example, “I am achieving my dream career” or “I will achieve my creative ambitions this year.”
  7. Remember, creating a vision board is a personal journey. There are no right or wrong ways to do it. Embrace your creativity and have fun! Revisit your board whenever you feel you need to refocus.
  8. Watch the video below as Claire Bridges, Founder of Now Go Create talks you through it!

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Powerful coaching questions to get you from stuck to unstuck fast https://nowgocreate.co.uk/blog/powerful-coaching-questions-to-get-you-from-stuck-to-unstuck-fast/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=powerful-coaching-questions-to-get-you-from-stuck-to-unstuck-fast Fri, 19 Jan 2024 13:55:54 +0000 https://nowgocreate.co.uk/?p=258107 Stuck in a rut? Facing a creative challenge that seems insurmountable? Don’t despair! Here are 11 of my favourite coaching questions that can help you unlock problems, shift perspective and drive progress in your professional life. Get a fresh perspective 1. What if the opposite were true?  2. What is the simplest thing that could […]

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Stuck in a rut? Facing a creative challenge that seems insurmountable? Don’t despair! Here are 11 of my favourite coaching questions that can help you unlock problems, shift perspective and drive progress in your professional life.

Get a fresh perspective

1. What if the opposite were true? 

  • This question flips the script, forcing you to consider alternative perspectives and expose hidden assumptions. Source: “Thinkertoys” by Michael Michalko)

2. What is the simplest thing that could possibly work? 

  • This question cuts through complexity and focuses on the core essence of the problem (Source: “Simplify” by Joshua Cooper Ramo)

3. What would happen if there were no rules? 

  • By removing constraints, this question encourages radical thinking and leads to innovative solutions. List the rules you ‘think’ are in place – what are they and how could you break them , change them or workaround them? (Source: “Thinkertoys” by Michael Michalko)

4. What would a [role model/expert/unexpected source] do in this situation?

  • This question leverages the wisdom of others and opens up new possibilities. You’re struggling to manage your time effectively? Asking “What productivity hacks does [your favourite CEO] use?” might inspire new strategies for your own workflow. Or go further an step into the shoes of a historical figure, celebrity, politician, activist and so on. You can read more about this process here.

Personal inquiry questions

5. What haven’t I considered yet? 

  • This introspective question prompts you to revisit your assumptions and explore uncharted territory. You’re trying to improve your public speaking skills? Asking “What hidden factors might be affecting my audience’s engagement?” might lead to unexpected adjustments in your delivery.

6. How can I make this a win-win situation for everyone involved? 

  • This question shifts the focus from individual gain to mutual benefit, fostering collaboration and building trust. You’re facing a disagreement with a colleague? Asking “How can we find a solution that works for both of us?” might lead to a more sustainable and satisfying outcome. (Source: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey)

7. The Dr Pepper question. What’s the worst that could happen if I try this? 

  • This question confronts fear and encourages calculated risk-taking. You’re hesitant to launch your new product? Asking “What is the potential downside of trying this, and how can I mitigate it?” might help you overcome your hesitation. A pre-mortem can be a great way to do this in more depth (Source: Dr Pepper ads, lol)

8. What is the most important thing I can learn from this situation? 

  • No-one likes to fall short but if you lose, don’t lose the lesson as someone wise once said. When you’ve got over the initial shock/pain/impact of what has happened this question can help to reframe ‘failure’ as a learning opportunity, fostering resilience and growth. (Source: “Mindset” by Carol Dweck, one of my favourite authors on this topic).

9. Can I break this problem down into smaller, more manageable pieces? 

  • The classic ‘you can’t eat an elephant but you can eat a lot of elephant burgers’ approach. This question tackles overwhelming challenges by dividing them into bite-sized steps. You’re feeling overwhelmed by a large project? Asking “What are the 3 key tasks I can complete today to make progress?” might reduce anxiety and increase momentum. I also like the tip to do the thing you’re most dreading as your first task of the day so you don’t procrastinate and feel better about yourself!

10. What am I grateful for in this situation? 

  • Another questions that might need a bit of distance from the initial event. This question shifts focus from the problem to the positive aspects, fostering optimism and resilience. You’re facing a personal setback? Asking “What am I learning about myself through this experience?” might help you maintain a positive outlook and find strength to move forward. Resilience is not something you have, it’s something you do too.

11. What is the conversation you’re NOT having?

  • My personal new favourite coaching question. Susan Scott is author of a book called Fierce Conversations who says: “Never be afraid of the conversations you are having. Be afraid of the conversations you are not having.” That sounds like a great prompt to help you get unblocked and tackle deeper challenges. (Source: “Fierce Conversations” by Susan Scott.)

The best questions are those that spark curiosity, challenge assumptions, and open doors to new possibilities. So, experiment, ask boldly, and watch your problems transform into opportunities for growth and innovation. My own book In Your Creative Element also features over 100 creative coaching questions to help you move forward.

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How to supercharge your creativity in 2024 with a vision board https://nowgocreate.co.uk/blog/how-to-supercharge-your-creativity-in-2024-with-a-vision-board/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-to-supercharge-your-creativity-in-2024-with-a-vision-board Fri, 05 Jan 2024 13:28:07 +0000 https://nowgocreate.co.uk/?p=258094 Vision boarding has been unfairly maligned. It can get lumped in with the ‘law’ of attraction as an exercise in idle fantasy, a way for the warm waters of what might be to tempt you away from doing anything about what actually is.  At Now Go Create, we don’t pretend to understand all the mysteries […]

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Vision boarding has been unfairly maligned. It can get lumped in with the ‘law’ of attraction as an exercise in idle fantasy, a way for the warm waters of what might be to tempt you away from doing anything about what actually is. 

At Now Go Create, we don’t pretend to understand all the mysteries of the cosmos. But rather than waiting around for the universe to deliver our desires, we reckon we’re better off reclaiming a vision board from the just-think-positive-thoughts posse and using the power of dreams to inspire an itch for action.

But there is a disclaimer: just creating a vision board is not going to make your dreams a reality. You will actually have to plan and take action. But by making one you are setting your goals for the future in a visual way. By having it somewhere you can see it every day you’re keeping your goals in sight 😉

Vision boarding can provide a unique way for us to step outside the immediacy of our deadline-driven work worlds and engage ourselves with the important stuff.

“What do we really want for our lives and where should we put our energies in order to achieve it?”

These are big questions, and it makes sense to use a big part of our intelligence to enagage with them. Half our brains are devoted directly or indirectly to vision and we’re hard-wired to process the world visually. Communications expert Professor Brad Bushman says that “that our brain is mainly an image processor (much of our sensory cortex is devoted to vision), not a word processor. In fact, the part of the brain used to process words is quite small in comparison to the part that processes visual images.”

The occipital lobe is the part of the brain that processes visual information and using images is one of the strongest ways to help material enter the brain and stay there.

As visual creatures, a vision boarding session can be rooted in using the same neural pathways to influence something much more important: how we spend our attention and time.

“Attention and time are two of the engines of action.”

But first we need to get an idea of where we might like to go. And this is where vision boarding comes into its own.

Here are three observations from doing my own vision board for anyone seeking to make their own a success:

1. Make your inner critic work for you, not against you

When we begin any creative endeavour, we go up against our inner critic. This judge that hovers over our shoulder constantly asking, “is this any good?” has the power to shut so many of our early experiments down. First steps aren’t supposed to be good, though our inner critic doesn’t always appreciate that. The thing with the inner critic though is that it’s part of who we are. Our judgements on the things we think are good – and those we don’t – are part of our individual identities. Rather than attempting to shut this voice out, vision boarding begins by harnessing its power. It’s integral to the exploration, the sifting through images, postcards, fabric samples, cuttings, quotes. Your judgement will guide you on the journey of no, no,no,maybe, no, hmm, yes, no, hold on… YES. Your board must first speak to you.

2: Think with your fingers. 

One of my favourite German words is “fingerspitzengefuhl’. It means ‘fingertip feeling’ and usually denotes a wide-ranging intuition, but I like to (mis) translate it as ‘thinking with your fingers.’ This is how each board seems to emerge from the intersection between individual creative preference and available materials.

Unlike most computer-based work, there is a physicality to vision boarding: the sifting and tearing of paper, the fine control of scissors, the satisfaction of fitting images together. At times it feels almost as if our fingers are making the decisions without having to consult with the brain. 

When I watch other people doing this it’s a kind of mental relaxation, a collective expression of engagement from the group once they began doing this. As one creator, deep in the flow of it, said:

“Why can’t we do this every day?”

3: Share your story

Using your judgement and thinking with your fingers to create a tangible vision board is the first step. The next is sharing your story with others if you want to. There can be a particular power in the act of making your dreams known. It feels like speaking up for yourself, breathing life into something which otherwise might have stayed deep inside your thoughts. The whole point of these sessions is to help get the dreams and goals out of our heads and into the real world where we can do something about them. Because it’s doing that gives dreaming its power.

How to do it

Creating a vision board is as simple as it sounds. Think about what you want in your creative nirvana. What will you be able to do, achieve, create – in the next 6-12 months?

Perhaps deliver an amazing customer experience on your website or design new stand-out packaging. Maybe you want to push for a promotion. Or start that side-hustle you keep putting off.

  • All you need is a piece of stiff board (personally I go for A3 or bigger so that you can really go to town) and of course scissors and glue or spray mount. I also use those rubber alphabet stamps and inkpads so I can print quotes and words onto the boards.
  • Then all you need is some time to yourself, a space where you can relax and your stash of inspiration. Grab a stack of magazines and flick through, cutting out any images or quotes that seem to fit. You can add personal or aspirational photos, postcards, and anything else that inspires you.

I used visual journaling, including making vision boards and collaging, extensively as part of my thesis when I was studying creativity and innovation a few years ago. I found it a powerful way to help you go beyond your rational, conscious mind and access other ways of knowing.

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Goal-Getter or Goal-Forgetter? How to set your 2024 Creative Goals https://nowgocreate.co.uk/blog/your-guide-to-setting-and-achieving-creative-success-in-2024/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=your-guide-to-setting-and-achieving-creative-success-in-2024 Tue, 02 Jan 2024 12:37:37 +0000 https://nowgocreate.co.uk/?p=257698 Here’s a slightly awkward confession: my New Year’s resolutions for 2023 if was going to make then would bear a striking resemblance to those of 2022, 2021, and, well, every other year before that. I always kick off with enthusiasm but the weather, the effort, the pull of the fridge, doom-scrolling, the sheer pressure of […]

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Here’s a slightly awkward confession: my New Year’s resolutions for 2023 if was going to make then would bear a striking resemblance to those of 2022, 2021, and, well, every other year before that.

I always kick off with enthusiasm but the weather, the effort, the pull of the fridge, doom-scrolling, the sheer pressure of it all defeats me within days. It’s not a great way to kick start the new year and your creative success.

As the calendar flips, millions of us will pledge to reinvent ourselves. Whether on scraps of paper, crumpled napkins, or in new fancy notebooks, the annual ritual involves listing the ways we’ll be better this year. Yet, statistics suggest that up to 80% of people abandon their resolutions by February, with only 8% staying committed all year. So how can we try to adopt changes that last longer than a few weeks?

I have given up setting myself a long list of should-dos. It just feels so depressing to feel like you’re failing 2 weeks into a new year! But I always try to set some shape to the year and intentions before tackling the to-do list this week.

Setting meaningful goals and making real change requires more than list making just because everyone else is doing it. It takes motivation, time and effort. But of course a new year does mean a fresh start, an empty calendar and a full 12 months to make your “dent in the universe” to quote Steve Jobs. So what can you do if you want to achieve your creative ambitions this year?

 “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.’

Japanese proverb

So starting today, and over the next few weeks, I thought I’d share some of the ideas and exercises that I use personally – these combine the vision-setting and the practical actions to help you make 2024 your best creative year yet.

Michael Bungay Stanier is author of Do More Great Work’, a book that had a big impact on how I approach the start of each year professionally.

It’s a simple idea really. Stanier suggests that we can all be preoccupied every single day doing what he calls ‘busy’ or ‘bad work’ – that might be being in meetings we don’t need to be in, answering emails or writing endless reports.

‘Good work’ is better, but it’s treading water, maintaining the status quo and working on projects that never really move the needle or drive the organisation ahead. Stanier suggests instead that we focus on our ‘great work’ – expanding on the innovative, interesting ideas that stretch us, and move ourselves, and our companies forward.

At the start of each year I think about what my ‘great work’ project is going to be (or could be, no matter how embryonic), and this is the North Star that provides focus and drives my actions on a monthly, weekly and a daily basis. It’s not always straightforward because of course we all have a limited range of time, energy and resources. But if I reach July and I haven’t started on the project that I identified as important, or I’m stuck, then I know something’s gone awry.

So the start of a new year is a great time to ask yourself:

‘What is my great work project for 2024 going to be?’

This might mean reprioritising. Perhaps you’ve come across the ‘stop, start, continue’ framework for managing change, which is useful in a range of situations, including here. Ask these three simple questions, which can then lead to further questions:

  • What are some things I should stop doing?
  • What should I start doing?
  • What should I continue doing?
  • What should I do more of?

I’ll leave the last word on this topic to Stanier and this great question to help you prioritise:

“If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?”

Next time we’ll look at representing your great work plan and 2024 goals with imagery, bringing them to life by creating a vision board.

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Don’t wait til the idea is dead – make better decisions with a project pre mortem https://nowgocreate.co.uk/blog/dont-wait-til-the-idea-is-dead-make-better-decisions-with-a-project-pre-mortem/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dont-wait-til-the-idea-is-dead-make-better-decisions-with-a-project-pre-mortem Mon, 23 Oct 2023 17:34:25 +0000 https://www.nowgocreate.co.uk/?p=6264 Notice: JavaScript is required for this content.

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I came across a great idea to address bias in decision making by a psychologist called Gary Klein. We’re all familiar with the idea of a project post mortem to establish what’s gone well and not so well with a project but what about the idea of a pre mortem?

Research conducted at the Wharton School and University of Colorado identified something they called ‘prospective hindsight’—imagining that an event has already occurred – and they found this can increase a person’s ability to correctly identify what happens in the future by 30%. I recently ran an innovation sprint for a client and we used this process to help us figure out what might go wrong.

What is a pre-mortem?

Projects may fail for many reasons. The pre-mortem helps you and your group recognize potential barriers, vulnerabilities and complications around your project and so anticipate problems to overcome.

Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Gary Klein an expert in decision making, explains further:

“Unlike a typical critiquing session, in which project team members are asked what might go wrong, the premortem operates on the assumption that the “patient” has died, and so asks what did go wrong. The team members’ task is to generate plausible reasons for the project’s failure.”

Why use a pre-mortem?

When trying to generate creative ideas, perhaps in a group brainstorming session, it helps to structure your session so that when you are generating ideas for the first time, you avoid dissenting with each other in order to generate a volume of options. You can decide whether they are workable as the next stage. But when it comes to planning dissent is a really useful way to assess the pros and cons of an idea, evaluate whether any risks are associated and to find holes in a plan. This is where the pre mortem fits in.

The idea is similar to Edward De Bono’s ‘black hatted’ thinking as part of his famous six thinking hats technique – spotting all the pitfalls and issues with a project – but it isolates the negative thinking into one-stage.

How to run a pre-mortem

Step 1 – imagine that you are 3 years into the future, and despite all of the team’s efforts, the idea, campaign or project you have been working on has failed—catastrophically, and many things have gone completely wrong.

Ask yourself and your team: what does the worst-case scenario look like for you and the project? Describe the failure as fully as you can.
 
Step 2 –generate all the reasons for this failure. Spend time recording the reasons that could cause this failure
 
Ask your team: what could have caused our project to fail and list the reasons. Think if there are any underlying assumptions that you have made that have led to this position.
 
What assumptions did I make? What assumptions did others make?
 
Step 3 –now prioritise your list of potential reasons for failure. Use your own criteria to decide what is most/least likely and discuss why you think that’s the case. Try to remember your own potential bias and be open-minded.
 
Ask your team: what specific actions could we take to avoid or manage these concerns?
 
You can do all the above stages individually, in pairs or as a group. What might you do differently now having undertaken the PM?
 
The group I was working with for the innovation sprint used this process to help them to identify any big possible cock ups before they happened and they loved it! Give it a whirl as part of your next workshop or brainstorming session before you land on your final ideas.

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Groupthink: The Silent Killer of Innovation https://nowgocreate.co.uk/blog/groupthink-the-silent-killer-of-innovation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=groupthink-the-silent-killer-of-innovation Mon, 23 Oct 2023 16:33:24 +0000 https://nowgocreate.co.uk/?p=252195 I read an article recently about the shocking theft over a long period of time of artefacts from the British Museum. The world-famous museum which houses objects including the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon Marbles was the “victim of an inside job” said George Osborne, when approximately 2,000 artefacts were stolen from its collections. Osborne […]

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I read an article recently about the shocking theft over a long period of time of artefacts from the British Museum. The world-famous museum which houses objects including the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon Marbles was the “victim of an inside job” said George Osborne, when approximately 2,000 artefacts were stolen from its collections.

Osborne has also said that the phenomenon known as ‘groupthink’ is one of the reasons that the thefts went undetected for so long. He is suggesting that the whole group could not fathom or believe that the objects were vulnerable to theft, nor that anyone working at the museum would decide to steal them.

Whilst this is an extreme and shocking example of possible groupthink, it’s something that as a brainstorm facilitator I see often. People will defer to hierarchy or the so-called HIPPO in the room (highest paid person’s opinion).

“HiPPOs are leaders who are so self-assured that they need neither other’s ideas nor data to affirm the correctness of their instinctual beliefs. Relying on their experience and smarts, they are quick to shoot down contradictory positions and dismissive of underling’s input.”

Forbes Magazine

What is Groupthink?

It’s a phenomenon that occurs when a group of people make irrational or poor decisions because they are reluctant to challenge each other’s opinions or ideas. It is often caused by a strong desire for conformity and harmony within the group.

“Groupthink” was first introduced in Psychology Today by the psychologist Irving Janis. It can have a devastating impact on innovation. When people are afraid to speak up or disagree with others, they are less likely to share their most creative and innovative ideas. This can lead to a less diverse and less effective brainstorming session, and ultimately to poorer decision-making.

Here are some tips for avoiding groupthink:

  • Create a safe and supportive environment: Encourage everyone to feel comfortable sharing their ideas, no matter how crazy they may seem.
  • Set ground rules: Establish some ground rules for the brainstorming session, such as no criticism or judgment, and everyone gets a chance to speak. We like IDEO’s 7 rules for divergent thinking:
    • Defer judgement
    • Encourage wild ideas
    • Build on others’ ideas
    • Stay on topic
    • One conversation at a time
    • Be visual
    • Go for quantity.
  • Use anonymous idea submission: If people are still hesitant to share their ideas, consider using an anonymous idea submission process. This can help to reduce the pressure of conformity and encourage people to share their most creative ideas.
  • Have a facilitator: A facilitator can help to keep the brainstorming session on track and ensure that everyone has a chance to participate.
  • Take breaks: Take short breaks throughout the brainstorming session to give people a chance to recharge and come up with new ideas.
  • Break the group up: We like the process 1,2,4 all – work alone, in pairs, pair up with another pair then share back to the group.
  • Use asynchronous tools: We love using MIRO and MURAL whiteboarding tools to allow people to share their ideas, anonymously or otherwise, in their own time without being unduly influenced by others.
  • Share the criteria for decision-making: Make it clear that this is an objective process.
  • Try a pre-mortem: When you’ve chosen a route, think about all the possible things that could go wrong using the pre-mortem technique (before the patient/idea dies a death, not after). See our blog on the pre-mortem here.

By following these tips, you can help to create a brainstorming environment that is more conducive to creativity and innovative thinking. When people are afraid to speak up or disagree with others, they are less likely to share their most creative ideas. This can lead to a less diverse and less effective brainstorming session, and ultimately to poorer decision-making.

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Why ‘Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing’ is your secret weapon to better brainstorms  https://nowgocreate.co.uk/blog/why-forming-storming-norming-and-performing-is-your-secret-weapon-to-better-brainstorms/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=why-forming-storming-norming-and-performing-is-your-secret-weapon-to-better-brainstorms Mon, 23 Oct 2023 16:00:55 +0000 https://nowgocreate.co.uk/?p=252188 Any of this sound familiar? When we run our creative thinking training we often hear from clients that their brainstorming or creative process is not working brilliantly.  And recently I was a guest on the the Highly Relational podcast, with Robert Digings, a former attendee on one our courses. He asked me to talk about how […]

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  • We need to collaborate better.
  • We need more ideas.
  • Our brainstorms are a bit rubbish.
  • Any of this sound familiar? When we run our creative thinking training we often hear from clients that their brainstorming or creative process is not working brilliantly. 

    And recently I was a guest on the the Highly Relational podcast, with Robert Digings, a former attendee on one our courses. He asked me to talk about how to build a high performing creative team. 

    I talked about one of my favourite and easily accessible models to think about how you can help your team to develop and generate better ideas in a brainstorm, or any other setting. 

    You can’t expect a new team to perform exceptionally from the very outset. Team formation takes time, and usually follows some easily recognizable stages, as the team journeys from being a group of strangers to becoming a united team with a common goal. 

    I’ve written about the topic of psychological safety before, and it’s a key part of high performing teams, and building collaborative teams who trust each other and feel confident to share their ideas. 

    In order to nurture your creative team – actually, any team – so that it becomes a high-performing group, a whole load of magic (and science) needs to happen en route. 

    If you facilitate creative sessions or workshops of any kind then it’s good to understand a bit about team dynamics and how to successfully navigate everyone through the different stages of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing.

    A quick run-through the Forming, Storming, Norming & Performing process

    Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing are what psychologist Bruce Tuckman identified in the 60s as the ‘developmental sequence in small groups.’

    Here’s each stage at a glance:

    What’s the forming stage?

    Remember those awkward first-time encounters between strangers in a new team group or in a group of people brought together for a meeting or a brainstorm? This is part of the forming stage where each person isn’t quite sure of where they fit in or what the other people in the team are really like.

    They will all have different agendas, too. Some will be totally up for it, while others will be reluctant participants. Who will emerge as a team leader? Who will tap into a vat of extra strength when the going gets tough?

    What’s the storming stage?

    This is the phase that many teams never quite get out of – especially if they don’t meet regularly. It’s when everybody is jockeying for position, and people often struggle with each other’s boundaries or working style.

    If left unchecked, this kind of team can derail the whole process or a brainstorm as participants question the value of the brief, the team leader and the mission as a whole. Getting through this phase is an essential part of the process. If you have to facilitate at either of the above stages it can be challenging, as essentially you’re thrown into the mix too! 

    When do we know when we’re norming?

    As the name suggests, this is where things normalise somewhat. People get into the rhythm of the group, they find their place, and a certain kind of harmony tends to develop.

    With your team members more comfortable around each other, they become better at challenging problems, asking for help, receiving and giving feedback and so on. Trust is key and people feel confident and safe about sharing their ideas. It’s not about groupthink though; where the group feel the need to get to a consensus and harmony, it’s about feeling you can debate, discuss and challenge without feeling threated. 

    Now we’re performing

    Obviously, reaching this stage doesn’t happen overnight, but a functioning team that has been through the norming phase usually passes onto the Performing phase – with the right guidance.

    Your goal isn’t necessarily to get the team from Forming to Performing in the shortest possible time; the trick is to get them to the Performing stage at all!

    After all, we’ve all been in groups of co-workers who simply never gelled, and conflict remained a constant issue. I’ve been part of working groups where the thinking was siloed and people did not want to listen or debate ‘their way or the highway.’ 

    How you can use the Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing method to accelerate your creative thinking

    Now that you know the four stages, it shouldn’t be too hard to identify where your group or team is at.

    If it is one of the first three, your move should be to try and shift them to the next stage. 

    How do you do this? You can address:

    Build trust: If you do one thing, do thisSet ground rules for engagement and make it clear through your own words and actions if you’re facilitating that everyone’s voice is equal. Make sure that team conflict does not go unresolved.

    The dreaded ice-breaker – whatever works for you here as you’ll set the tone as the facilitator – help people to get to know each other better. Personal favourites:

    • What’s your theme tune today?
    • What did you want to do for a job when you were little?
    • Tell a story one sentence at a time (everyone says one line)

    Individual performance. One-to-one feedback with participants could help to nudge them in the right direction.

    Your own leadership or facilitation style. Are you playing the role of a capable captain – or a foundering junior officer steering the ship onto the rocks? Do you actively listen and offer people different ways to participate? Are you finding ways to bring the introverts as well as the extraverts along with you?

    So if you want to get to better ideas and improve your facilitation skills, consider the model and see where you can add something to build your skills. Let me know how you get on!

    You can listen to my contribution to the Highly Relational podcast here.

    And if you want help with your creative thinking at any stage of the process, we have a brainstorm facilitation course for that. Drop me a line for more info.

    Photo by Gary Butterfield on Unsplash

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    Velcro: The Hook and Loop That Changed the World https://nowgocreate.co.uk/blog/velcro-the-hook-and-loop-that-changed-the-world/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=velcro-the-hook-and-loop-that-changed-the-world Mon, 23 Oct 2023 15:03:35 +0000 https://nowgocreate.co.uk/?p=252173 Out for a walk with the dogs today and we lost them in the undergrowth for a while, as is par for the course. When they eventually popped out, they were covered in bits of bush and scrub. We struggled to get the super-sticky burrs out of their ears, tails, even stuck on our boots! […]

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    Out for a walk with the dogs today and we lost them in the undergrowth for a while, as is par for the course. When they eventually popped out, they were covered in bits of bush and scrub. We struggled to get the super-sticky burrs out of their ears, tails, even stuck on our boots! And it gives me an excuse to write about one of my favourite examples of creativity and the invention of Velcro.

    It’s one of those inventions that seems so simple, but it’s had a profound impact on our world. From sneakers to nappies to space suits, Velcro is used in countless products and applications. But do you know how it came to be?

    The story of Velcro begins with a Swiss engineer named George de Mestral. He was on a hunting trip with his dog (just like us) when he noticed that his clothes and their coats were covered in sticky burrs. He was curious about how the burrs attached themselves, so examined them under a microscope where he saw that the burrs were covered in tiny hooks. 

    These hooks caught onto anything that had a loop, such as clothing or animal fur. De Mestral realized that he could create a fabric fastener that acted like the burrs, and the idea of Velcro was born.

    De Mestral experimented with different materials and designs, and finally came up with a working prototype. He named his invention Velcro, a combination of the French words “velours” (velvet) and “crochet” (hook).

    Velcro is more than just a convenient fastener. It’s also an example of biomimicry, the practice of designing human-made systems inspired by nature. By observing and mimicking the burrs, de Mestral was able to create a new and innovative fastener that has revolutionized many industries.

    This is also the basis of a creative technique called related worlds, where you seek inspiration outside of your field or project to bring back to your challenge. 

    To try it out for yourself, follow these steps:

    1. Identify the problem or challenge that you’re trying to solve.
    2. Brainstorm a list of other industries or areas of life where similar problems have been solved.
    3. Research how those problems have been solved.
    4. Look for ways to apply the solutions to your own problem or challenge.
    5. So, if you want more trust, you ask yourself where in the world is another person or organisation, country or institution known for trust? What can we learn to take back to your problem? 

    In another example, Great Ormond Street Hospital called in experts from the F1 Ferrari Team when they wanted to understand better about how to co-ordinate and de-risk large numbers of people working in a small space.

    The related worlds creative technique is a great way to think outside the box and come up with unexpected solutions that you otherwise would never would have thought of without the stimulus or the outside in approach.

    The post Velcro: The Hook and Loop That Changed the World first appeared on Now Go Create.

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    A smorgasbord of bite size learning https://nowgocreate.co.uk/blog/a-smorgasbord-of-bite-size-learning/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-smorgasbord-of-bite-size-learning Wed, 02 Aug 2023 15:52:22 +0000 https://nowgocreate.co.uk/?p=245588

    Hey there. Say hello to our bite-size e-learning and webinars – your secret weapons for personal growth without the overwhelm! Join one of our September sessions and sharpen up your creative thinking skills.

    With bite-size learning, you get tasty little nuggets of knowledge that you can apply to whatever creative challenges you have on your plate. Each webinar is £99 + VATpp for corporates, and £75pp + VAT for students or self-funded freelancers or individuals. Book 2 or more and receive a 15% discount.

    We’ve run these online workshops for a decade now and they offer a great opportunity to bring along a real-world challenge and work alongside the trainer to learn, and generate ideas for your problem or topic as you go. We’ve trained thousands of people from charities, comms teams, marketers and PR’s to help them build their creative toolkit.

    I genuinely feel like the workshop helped me unlock a much deeper level of creativity and audience understanding.” Storytelling workshop participant

    “The Creative Ninjas course had a profound impact on how I will work going forward, amazing. I loved all of it and the only thing I would change is to have more of it!”  TV producer

    Email contact@nowgocreate.co.uk to book your place!

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