Today’s post is by Chris Grivas – co-author of THE INNOVATIVE TEAM: Unleashing Creative Potential For Breakthrough Results (CLICK HERE to get your copy). You can learn more about him at the end of the post. Here’s Chris…
Eureka moments are Pitt/Berry/Jolie/Clooney sexy – there’s no point in denying that. That moment when Edison’s filament lights, when Jobs conceives the iPhone – it’s thrilling. Yet often the key to innovation lies not in the big idea, but in discovering a new way to look at the problem.
Example: Billy Beane, General Manager for Oakland A’s (played, as it happens, by Brad Pitt in “Moneyball”), was facing an economic brick wall. After losing his best players to free agency, he needs to build a winning team with less money than his competition.
Today’s financial climate means we in business need to find innovative ways how to do more with less, to attract and retain the people who can do the job, and to put a team together that can produce exceptional results. In my book, “The Innovative Team,” a team has to take their work up a notch or three when a key client threatens to walk. Like Billy Beane, they started by redefining the problem. What is the core issue at stake?
For Beane, the question changed from “How do we replace our best players?” to “How can we win more games?” For our team, it changed from “What recommendations should we make to our client?” to “What can we show our client to help her think differently?”
Research into creativity and innovation shows that the four-step process we all take toward solving problems is common across cultures and throughout history. Those four steps are:
1. Clarify the Problem. Often this is where you are going get the best return on your time investment, because this is where you’ll discover new strategies, new points of value, and even new markets. As above, re-frame your problem, e.g., Angry Client, or No Money, as a solve-able question.
2. Generate Ideas. This is where you diverge on as many options as possible for resolving the situation at hand and converge on the one or two ideas with the most potential for not just solving the problem, but blowing it out of the water. Too often, people mistakenly see this stage as the definition of creativity. Without the later stages you can end up with poorly executed ideas, or ideas that solve the wrong problem. It’s important, sure, but there’s more work to be done to turn that idea into a workable reality. To get started selecting novel ideas from the workaday, try this: Be appreciative – start with what you like about the ideas. Avoid saying what won’t work about them – you can deal with improving the ideas in the next stage of the process. Focus on the gold – what might work about that idea?
3. Develop Ideas. You’ve selected the ones with the most potential, but no idea is perfect when it first sees the light of day. Here you take those ideas and make them stronger – send them to Boot Camp. Make your solution solidly focused on resolving the situation you set out to improve. Tinker with the ideas, break them, fix them, grow them, shrink them. Some business favor using a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). Instead, rather than simply assessing the idea, naming its weaknesses and threats and leaving them there, we recommend using POINT – Pluses, Opportunities, Issues, and New Thinking. We like this tool because it moves you beyond analysis and into strategic planning.
4. Implement the Plan. Getting your idea launch-ready involves not just project management, but change management. If you plan for how people will adopt your great new idea, helping them see the “What’s in it for me?” and their role in making the idea happen, you’ll have the best chance to succeed.
Of course you can learn more details and strategies about innovative team-building in the book itself, and by investigating the FourSight measure. (LINK) While we can’t guarantee you’ll look like Brad Pitt or win the pennant, making these techniques part of your and your organization’s daily routine will enable you to: foster a culture of innovation, help teams work more efficiently and happily together, be a stronger, more creative contender on the world stage.
- Chris Grivas is principal of Chris Grivas Consulting (www.chrisgrivas.com) an organizational and leadership development consultancy focused on increasing the creative capacity of individuals, teams, and organizations. He is co-author of THE INNOVATIVE TEAM: Unleashing Creative Potential For Breakthrough Results.