Recently one of our distributors told me about a conversation she’d had with the CEO of a global logistics firm where he made the comment, “I don’t believe that you can teach innovation. Some people are creative, but most aren’t.”
I would have reframed the question for him: “Do you think that we can give people tools that will help them think more effectively? For instance, are there time and project management tools that will help an individual or team organize itself? Are there processes and tools that will help you analyze problems more effectively? Like six sigma ?”
My guess is that he would have had to reply with a “Yes”. Our argument in Innovation in a Box is that there is an innovation tool-set that will help anyone, creative or non-creative, generate more innovative ideas.
Let’s imagine that we have an individual who is decidedly not creative, by their own admission and frankly by the evidence. Based on the model outlined in our last blog post, they are acutely left-brain dominant. In fact let’s call then “green”: they’re linear, procedural, organized, practical. They’re very good at project-management, but when asked to “think outside of their green box” they have a tough time. They’re not sure what this means, let alone how to do it. Innovation in a Box answers both of these questions.
What does “think out of the box” mean?
In the same way that a traditional IQ test measures analytical thinking skills, there are a variety of tests designed to measure creativity. The classic is the Torrance Test. Developed by E. Paul Torrance, it uses benchmarking to measure relative creativity. The full test involves simple tests of divergent and lateral problem solving skills. A highly creative individual will perform well in three categories:
By definition our “non-creative” test subject will not perform well. They will produce a few ideas, that tend to be similar to one another, and similar to what other test subjects produce. An antiseptic test environment however is very different then the real-world, and we can use those test results as the basis for increasing innovation. Basically we can legitimately “cheat” to get a better score, as in an open-book exam. We’re interested in results rather than labeling or judgement.
When asked to think “out of the box”, we’re really asking people to come up with great ideas. To do that you simply have to support people by giving them methodologies and tools that help them increase the number, range and originality of their ideas. This is no different then giving a disorganized person time-management tools, or someone who is always late, an alarm on their watch or phone. In fact research shows that teams that use innovation tools produce up to 500% more quality ideas then unsupported teams.
So, the “what” of thinking outside of the box is increasing our impact: the number, range and originality of our ideas. In future posts we’ll give various examples of tools that will help you deal with the “how”.
Co-Founder of Juice Inc, Thought Leader & Author
Co-Founder of Juice Inc.
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