Creative Problem Solving (CPS)

    Seven Ways to Prepare for Effective Brainstorming

    seven ways to preparev1Want an Innovation Breakthrough?
    Prepare, Then Brainstorm

    Most brainstorming doesn’t work.

    The literature bashing brainstorming is extensive. Sessions often fail, and there are many reasons. Ideas are still needed to fill pipelines! I’m going to focus on one problem with brainstorming in this post: lack of preparation.

    The Boy Scouts have it right. Be Prepared.

    There is not enough mental preparation done with participants before brainstorming/idea generation sessions. Nor is there enough attention paid to planning and facilitating the exercises and stimulus in the session itself. Start thinking of idea generation as a project that takes a few weeks, not a one day session.

    Use Diverse Springboards to Scaffold Thinking.

    Fresh combinations of concepts are what creates breakthrough ideas. This is the essence of innovation. To get there you’ve got to put a lot of diverse data points, springboards, in front of participants. Springboards should be provided to participants in a constant stream, before, and during, the session. These are the dots to connect. Interesting conceptual dots, related to your challenge, and weirdly, un-related to the challenge are “Scaffolding.”

    “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”

    Dr. Seuss

    Take a hint from Dr. Seuss. People need to think more, more often, and over a longer period of time. Plan this! Plan for participants to think alone, together, out loud, and quietly. Plan visual elements, written and kinesthetic exercises. Have them experience the emotion behind the challenge. If this is done, the brain will make fresh combinations and innovative ideas emerge.

    Seven Ways to Better Prepare for Idea Generation:

    1. Assign at least three hours of homework over a few weeks. Have participants do research, and virtual ideation, alone.
    2. Send the research ahead! Give them time to read, absorb, and jot down ideas, alone.
    3. Get smart outsiders involved. Expand the thinking team. Broaden the range of knowledge in the project.
    4. Get the platform question right. Unfocused questions mean useless ideas. Overly focused questions means narrow thinking.
    5. Plan a live session that sparkles all day long. It’s got to be dynamic, full of variety, unique stimulus, scaffolding, and fun.
    6. Balance the day plan with introvert friendly activities. These sessions need quiet and reflection in addition to all the shouting.
    7. Get a world class facilitator. Somebody who can help you do the other six items on this list.

    Better session plans and facilitation require a person trained in those skills. The exercises you conduct with participants, before and after the session, need to stretch thinking and bring in outside concepts and trends. This is not trivial to plan, and it won’t be done well without deep background in concept blending tools and techniques. If you don’t have these skills in-house, hire me to do the session, and/or to train your people.

    Bottom line: If you don’t prepare idea generation sessions creatively, differently, and carefully — you will fail.

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    The Billion Dollar Breakthrough You Missed

    Why and How are Billions in Potential Innovation Left On The Table? Innovation is Fresh Combinations  What’s Needed: Sophisticated Tools to Deliberately Make Fresh Connections Across Domains (see MoshPit, a new offering from GFi). Fresh combinations of technologies, processes, materials, people, trends, concepts, and other factors are what creates innovation. From the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (chocolate plus peanut butter) to the iPod (MP3 player combined with a buying system, iTunes) nearly any innovation combines existing things or concepts. It’s interesting that large organizations with lots of intellectual property don’t systematically examine what they can combine to innovate. Maybe it’s because concept blends across very different domains are not intuitive. Deliberate concept blends, combinations, are not a defined part of




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    The Innovation Imperative, growing culture and capacity (GFi Keynote)

    The Innovation Imperative… growing innovation culture and capacity If you want an organization to survive, you must innovate. But innovation is more than survival, it’s the heart beat of an organization. What you make, what you do, and how you do it — is the lifeblood of who you are. Staying in business means reinventing as markets shift. In this inspirational speech Gregg Fraley answers the Why Innovation question, and informs as to what innovation means to you and your group. It advocates that innovation is an exciting part of everyone’s job, not “extra work.” The stories of great innovation moments, overcoming seemingly impossible obstacles, and inventive breakthroughs will leave audiences empowered to innovate. The content is about how the




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    Nine Questions CEO’s Should Ask About Innovation

    Nine Questions CEO’s Should Ask About Innovation “Tell me what I should be thinking about.” The man asking the question, a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, was dead sincere. We were at a social event. We were chatting about the weather when he’d asked me what I did, and when I told him I was an innovation consultant, his eyebrows raised. Then he popped the question. This question, mercy, an open door to summarize my philosophy, is not one I get asked every day, especially by someone as empowered as a CEO. Clearly a savvy gentleman, I wondered for a moment if he was testing me or putting me on, but his eyes said he really wanted to know.




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    Training is an Innovation Accelerant II

    Do You Wish To Accelerate Innovation? Get Training! When I step into a room to facilitate an innovation, strategy, or idea generation session I always find a great deal of energy. What I also often find is inexperience. Inexperience in: the kind of divergent thinking necessary to innovate, in specific meeting behaviors and facilitation skills, and in innovation process, approaches and frameworks Here are details regarding a half day Innovation Intensive course I’m conducting at Workspring in Chicago on October 27th, 2017. Energy, motivation, and inspiration are important factors in getting innovation rolling. But none of them, or all of them together, are enough to overcome untrained thinking, poor session facilitation, and an un-anchored or non-existent innovation approach. Your innovation




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    Free Workshop at Workspring Chicago — Creative Choices, Innovative Results

    Notice: Gregg Fraley Speaking at Workspring Chicago Wednesday August 2, 2017 — 8 am to 10 am The free workshop at Workspring Chicago will focus on creative behaviors that enhance creative effectiveness. The habits/behaviors and associated tools and techniques apply to both personal and business roles. As the graphic says, you’ll learn approaches you can immediately use. Highly useful for innovation teams, team leaders, and anyone who wants to enhance their creative effectiveness. This will be presented by Gregg Fraley, author of Jack’s Notebook, co-inventor of IdeaKeg, and originator of MoshPit Innovation. RSVP with Workspring: rsvp@workspring.com Cheers.




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    Innovation Training in Denver, CO

    Denver, Colorado — Innovation & Facilitation Training — Two Public Courses In late August I’m co-hosting and delivering two public courses on Innovation in Denver. Working with Kim Smoyer of Smoyer & Associates, a Colorado based consultancy that focuses on non-profits. My experience is mostly with corporate innovation, so, we’ve got perspectives and insights for both contexts. We’re holding the courses at the Community Resource Center (CRC) in downtown Denver. The first course is a one-day Innovation Intensive Overview, targeted for executives. It’s theory, practice, and how to get started, or improve your innovation process. If you take this course you’ll know why and how to move forward with results oriented innovation projects. The second course is a 2.5 day




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    Disaster: CEO’s Ignoring Digital Innovation

    Does Any CEO Have the Luxury to Ignore Digital Transformation and Innovation? Gregg Fraley and Karen Kirby, copyright 2017 Innovation + Business + Technology = Digital Leadership Turnover of CEOs is already high, about 14.9 % a year as of 2016*. The demands of digital leadership and the enterprises of the future could dramatically accelerate that rate in the next few years. The conversation CEOs need to be having, to remain in the shrinking 85.1%, is about how to integrate digital technology and seize new pathways to industry leadership. In HBO’s Game of Thrones there has been that recurring foreboding phrase, “winter is coming.” For years, the phrase has been whispered in the ears of CEOs “digital is coming”. They




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    Five Ways Incivility Decapitates Innovation

    A Culture of Incivility Harms USA Innovation Five Ways Incivility “Decapitates” Innovation The recent flap around Kathy Griffin’s posting a picture of a fake severed head, of our President, was a sad attempt at humor, but incredibly successful at provocation. It has brought up the discussion, once again, of the civility of our discourse in America. I think Tiffany Quay Tyson does a nice job of summing up how many people are reacting to the Griffin incident, and the subsequent howls of reaction. No matter your political persuasion, civil discourse, and it’s close cousins, politeness, gentility, tolerance, compassion, and good manners have slipped far from where we once were. Those who keep track of civility are in agreement about the




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    To Innovate, Invest (USA, UK, listening?)

    Ben Tarnoff’s recent article for the Guardian hits hard. America has become so anti-innovation – it’s economic suicide This article is worth a careful reading. If you care about American Innovation, or UK Innovation for that matter, you’d better realize something; our governments are currently committing economic suicide. They are doing this by not investing in deep theoretical science and in infrastructure. Small “i” innovation is something we do well in the USA, but we can’t live on that kind of innovation forever. We need to create new markets and build new jobs based on new science and technology, new materials, and new infrastructure. This means countries like China, who are investing, are paving the way for their future success.




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