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101 Activities for Teaching Creativity and Problem Solving

101 Activities for Teaching Creativity and Problem Solving

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Published by Võ Thảo Nguyên

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Published by: Võ Thảo Nguyên on Jan 06, 2011
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Background

We’ve all heard it before: “That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard!” “It’ll
never work!” “That’s pretty dumb.” “Get real!!” We seem to be condi-
tioned to react negatively whenever we hear a new idea. Sometimes, the
more innovative the idea, the more repulsed we are. It’s as if our attitude is
“If I haven’t heard of it (or thought of it) before, then it can’t be any good”
(the “not-invented here syndrome”).
Well, get real! Such a negative attitude isn’t going to benefit us
individually or in groups. In fact, this attitude can establish a nega-
tive climate that eliminates the possibility of developing any useful,
innovative ideas. There is a bright side to such an attitude, howev-
er. It can be turned around and used to stimulate ideas.

Objectives

•To help participants generate as many creative ideas as possible

•To help participants learn how to use the activities to generate ideas

Participants

Small groups of four to seven people each

Materials,Supplies,and Equipment

•For each group: markers, two flip charts, and masking tape for posting flip-chart

sheets

•For each participant: one sheet each of three different colors of sticking dots

(1

⁄2′′diameter) and one pad of 4 x 6 Post-it®

Notes

Handout

•Get Real!! Handout

Time

30 minutes

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Related Activities

•Picture Tickler [17]

•Rorschach Revisionist [18]

•Ideatoons [26]

•Doodles [37]

•Drawing Room [59]

Procedure

1.Distribute the Get Real!! Handout, review it with the participants, and answer any
questions they may have.

2.Instruct the participants in each group to brainstorm ideas for approximately 15

minutes.

3.Tell them to write down each idea, individually, on a Post-it®

Note (one idea per

note) and place it on a flip chart for all to see.

4.Have the group members select the two or three stupidest, most impractical, and
most unworkable ideas from among those posted on the flip chart.

5.Direct the group members to examine each of these ideas and see what smart,
practical, workable ideas the original ideas might stimulate.

6.Tell them to write down any ideas on Post-it®

Notes (one idea per note) and place

them on flip charts for evaluation.

Debrief/Discussion

This can be a fun and interesting exercise, especially for participants who tend to be high-
ly judgmental. It can be surprising to see how supposedly “bad” ideas actually can be
used to spark creative solutions. This information can be useful for training in creative
thinking if participants will transfer it to other problem-solving situations. Ideas do not
always have to be the perfect match for a problem; they also can be springboards to more
practical ones.

Also consider having participants debrief using the following questions:

•What was most helpful about this exercise?

•What was most challenging?

•What can we apply?

•How would you rate the value of this exercise to helping us with this issue?

•Will this exercise be helpful in the future for other sessions?

•What did you learn?

•What will we be able to use from this exercise?

•What ideas were generated, and which ones were most interesting?

259

Brainstorming with Related Stimuli

09 VG 247-294b 10/6/04 12:22 PM Page 259

Get Real!! Handout

Suppose your organization wants to attract people to its arts foundation fund raisers. You
and some others brainstorm some ideas and select two of the worst ones:

•Call all the people in town and ask them to attend.

•Offer to pick people up and drive them to the seminar.

With these ideas as stimuli, the group generates some more practical ideas:

•Hire a marketing firm to call people most likely to benefit from such a seminar.

•Advertise on a radio show and offer a discount to the first twenty people who enroll

by phone.

•Pay mileage to seminar participants.

•Lease buses to transport people from a common collection point.

•Raffle off a free rental car at the seminar.

260

101 Activities for Teaching Creativity and Problem Solving

101 Activities for Teaching Creativity and Problem Solving.Copyright © 2005 by John Wiley &
Sons, Inc. Reproduced by permission of Pfeiffer, an Imprint of Wiley. www.pfeiffer.com

09 VG 247-294b 10/6/04 12:22 PM Page 260

61

Idea Showers

Background

Let the ideas rain on down. Flood your group with thoughts
about how to solve your problem. Try for as much conceptual
precipitation as you can generate. It’s time for Idea Showers.
Ideas Showers is another name for the classic brainstorming
method developed years ago by advertising executive Alex
Osborn.

Objectives

•To help participants generate as many creative ideas as possible

•To help participants learn how to use the activities to generate ideas

Participants

Small groups of four to seven people each

Materials,Supplies,and Equipment

•For each group: markers, two flip charts, and masking tape for posting flip-chart

sheets

•For each participant: one sheet each of three different colors of sticking dots

(1

⁄2” diameter) and one pad of 4 x 6 Post-it®

Notes.

Handout

•Idea Showers Handout

Time

30 minutes

Related Activities

•Get Crazy [5]

261

Brainstorming with Related Stimuli

09 VG 247-294b 10/6/04 12:22 PM Page 261

•Idea Links [41]

•What if. . . ? [49]

•Phillips 66 [64]

Procedure

1.Distribute the Idea Showers Handout, review it with the participants, and answer
any questions they may have.

2.After reviewing the handout, emphasize the importance of each of the four princi-
ples. Stress that the number one rule is to defer judgment.

3.Ask the groups to select a problem statement in the form of: “How might we. . . ?”
For instance, “How might we better market our product or service?”

4.Instruct them to spend 15 minutes generating ideas to resolve this problem, with
each person writing an idea on a Post-it®

Note, after suggesting it verbally.

5.Call time and tell them place their ideas on flip charts for evaluation.

Debrief/Discussion

Ask the participants to discuss the following questions:

•Why is deferring judgment so important?

•Is it more important than the other three brainstorming principles? Why or why not?

•How feasible is it to defer judgment in practice?

•How might groups overcome obstacles to deferring judgment?

•Why are the other three principles important?

Also consider having participants debrief using the following questions:

•What was most helpful about this exercise?

•What was most challenging?

•What can we apply?

•How would you rate the value of this exercise to helping us with this issue?

•Will this exercise be helpful in the future for other sessions?

•What did you learn?

•What will we be able to use from this exercise?

•What ideas were generated, and which ones were most interesting?

262

101 Activities for Teaching Creativity and Problem Solving

101 Activities for Teaching Creativity and Problem Solving.Copyright © 2005 by John Wiley &
Sons, Inc. Reproduced by permission of Pfeiffer, an Imprint of Wiley. www.pfeiffer.com

09 VG 247-294b 10/6/04 12:22 PM Page 262

Idea Showers Handout

Advertising executive Alex Osborn’s four principles for brainstorming are

•Defer judgment

•Quantity breeds quality

•The wilder the better

•Combination and improvement are sought

The trick is to translate these principles into workable brainstorming behaviors. The
first principle suggests that your group should agree to think of all the ideas they can
before evaluating any ideas. If you stick to this principle, you also should be successful
with the second principle of quantity breeds quality. Separating generation from evalua-
tion has been found to increase idea quantity, with a corresponding increase in quality.
The third principle reinforces the second in that letting go and not being concerned with
idea practicality is likely to increase idea quantity. Finally, the fourth principle—combina-
tion and improvement are sought—is likely to improve idea quality. Building on others’
ideas helps improve existing ideas while triggering new ones.

263

Brainstorming with Related Stimuli

101 Activities for Teaching Creativity and Problem Solving.Copyright © 2005 by John Wiley &
Sons, Inc. Reproduced by permission of Pfeiffer, an Imprint of Wiley. www.pfeiffer.com

09 VG 247-294b 10/6/04 12:22 PM Page 263

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