CREATIVITY BASED TECHNIQUES Introduction: Many of the techniques for productivity improvement are suitable for activities, such

as Diagnosis and Decision making. While these techniques, by themselves, are of great value, they are suitable for generating alternatives and solutions. While diagnosis does facilitate solution by exposing the root cause, yet there could be alternative ways of eliminating the root cause – something that diagnosis, by itself, does not bring to the surface. The process of generating ideas is not a logical or analytical process; it is a creative process that requires a different pattern of thinking. In this chapter we will discuss some of the most commonly used creativity techniques. Brainstorming: Definition and Meaning: Brainstorming is a management technique of problem solving where a group of people of heterogeneous nature of age, sex, background and functions numbering between six minimum and twenty maximum generate a large number of ideas in a small time. Brainstorming may be defined as a means of getting large number of ideas from a group of people in a short time by following certain rules. The definition focuses on three aspects:-(a). Large number of ideas: Brainstorming is a tool to generate a large number of ideas. There is no guarantee that the ideas will be practicable; there is no guarantee that the ideas will be the best. The hypothesis, underlying the efficacy of brainstorming, is that quantity leads to quality! Often good ideas are buried under bad ones in the brain; unless the bad ideas are permitted to exit, the good ones do not surface. (b). A group of people: Brainstorming is a group process. The optimum size of a group is above twelve; but it can vary between six and twenty. Ideally, the group should be heterogeneous, with as much diversity in gender, age, qualifications and experience, as possible. This permits observation of the problem from different viewpoints, which is the crux of the brainstorming process. (c). In a short time: This refers to the rate of flow of ideas. This rate can be as high as one hundred ideas in a period of ten minutes. Once again the emphasis is on quantity. The guidelines of brainstorming: The success of brainstorming technique depends on the way we apply it. Following four basic guidelines van ensure the success of a brainstorming session:


Every member works on the solution independently. (c). Idea generation: The leader writes the statement on apiece of paper and recalls the ideas. Drag a session that has dried up Nominal Group Technique: In the Nominal Group Technique. restating the problem: Restate the problem in as many ways as possible by all the participants and a short discussion is held on all such restatements. (d). The group is referred to as ‘nominal’.(a). a group of qualified individuals come together to present their ideas and then vote for the most favored one. (i). Allow this to continue till all ideas dry out. • Take more than one statement of the problem. Spend too on initial Allow observers. Stages of brainstorming: The process of brainstorming consists of six stages. since the group members do not directly interact with each other. • • END the session on a high note. • Encourage noise and laughter. Accept interruptions.e. (ii). Look for implementation of ideas. wildest idea: The most foolish idea from the session is taken up as the wildest idea and attempts are made to turn these wildest ideas into useful ideas by further brainstorming. (b). Large number of ideas irrespective of quality. select a basic re-statement: A basic statement is selected by the group as a LEAD. Free generation of ideas without inhibition.. • Have a warm up session. (iv). Objective is to pick up other peoples’ ideas and develop. (iii). Don’ts long Do’s and Don’ts of Brainstorming: Do’s • Suspend judgment discussion • Allow wild and silly ideas. stating the problem: The problem is explained to the participants by the leader and a short discussion is held on the same. for generation of ideas and for evaluation. Features of Nominal Group Technique (NGT): • NGT foes beyond Brainstorming. (v). This idea is taken up as the decision of the group. Emphasis is laid on quantity. warm up: Then there is a warm up session to get the participants freewheeling. in contrast with speaking. i. This technique uses writing. Tape record the proceedings. Do not examine quality or feasibility of ideas at this stage. No evaluation or judgment on ideas generated during Brainstorming period. (vi). 2 . All ideas are displayed and discussed.

permitting objective exchange of ideas. ↓ Participants secretly rank the ideas as per their order of preference. 3 . NGT session allows two hours or so to complete. A hierarchic Superior or designate selects the ideas to be implemented or alternatively members vote for the priority ideas with the group discussion derived through Rank ordering or rating. ↓ Each Participant’s ideas are presented one at a time and recorded on a chart. ↓ Participant thinks and silently writes down ideas about Problem Solving. Advantages and Disadvantages of NGT: The biggest advantage of Nominal Group Techniques is that. NGT is a Group Decision. Each one of the group works independently without consulting each other at this stage and develops a solution and puts it in writing silently. NGT emphasizes the importance of both Idea Generation and Idea Separation from specific individuals. Discussion is held on each recorded idea for clarification and evaluation. Sequence of activities in Nominal Group Technique: Step 1 A small group gathers around a table and receives instructions. ↓ The highest ranking idea is taken as the group’s Decision. Ranking of ideas by the group members is facilitated supplying information held by each member to all the other members. it allows formation of an informed opinion. It is a fairly rapid process. NGT technique allows evaluation of many ideas without pressures to conform to those of a high status person. ↓ The Problem is identified.• • • • • • • • • • • NGT brings together small group of individuals who systematically present their ideas and then select the most favored one. ↓ Each idea is discussed and evaluated by the group members. All ideas are expressed. Each member is given the problem in written form. The major disadvantage of this technique is that it requires a trained facilitator to run the session. NGT technique requires the use of a Trained Group Facilitator and deals with one Problem at a time.

4 . Some examples are:-(a). away from the conventional pattern of thinking. We fall into the syndrome of ‘the good being the enemy of the better’. Even if we don’t get a solution. (b). at least we know what NOT to do.Since effective decisions will be made only if we are able to remove the element of bias and prejudices. we stop looking further. unlearn what you know is the best way. Secondly secret balloting should be used for final choice. Challenging the assumptions: For sometime. Definition and Meaning of Lateral thinking: Lateral Thinking is defined as a thinking process in which we make deliberate attempts to generate new ideas by introducing a discontinuity in our thought process. Believe that your information is wrong. the obvious. we must learn to think in radically different ways. Lateral Thinking: Our resistance to change makes us reluctant to accept something new or different. without mentioning the name of the person giving it. we may try thinking “what can be done to increase inventory?”. Thus dominance blocks the way to explore continuously more and more useful and efficient ideas. Background: The need for Lateral Thinking arises from the fact that dominance of any idea or concept generally suppresses other useful and efficient ideas. we cease to search for the better. This different way of thinking is termed as Lateral Thinking to contrast with the normal modes of logical thought. His change in perspective can be relaxing as well as productive. This may bring to light some inherent weaknesses in the system.e. Having something good. You might find that some of the old ways can be improved or replaced. Thus lateral thinking implies considering a problem from a fresh perspective. Principles of Lateral Thinking: The principles of lateral thinking can be clubbed under three headings:-(a). Visualizing the extreme opposite of the situation or reversing the objective: Suppose we want to bring down the inventory levels. tried and tested solutions in hand. Looking at the surroundings of the problem rather than the problem itself: (c). a point of view which is different from the norm. To be more innovative. stopping the progress. it is advised to record the ideas anonymously i. Try something which goes against the assumptions. When we have a couple of standard.

e. The search is alternate ways and not for the best way (c). It is an open-ended process giving maximum results. Therefore we use one idea to provoke or generate another set of ideas. but makes no promise. Hemispheric Dominance: Examples of brain style: --How would you go about solving a problem? Would you follow an organized approach like defining the problem and breaking it into parts. Provocation: This assumes that it may be necessary to be wrong at some stage in order to reach the right solution. Escape: This principle suggests recognition of the dominant idea and deliberate search for alternate ways of doing the things. Seeks continuity i. recording possible solutions. skills and personality traits are strongly influenced by our habit of using one side of the brain more than the other. are housed in the right brain whereas logic and communication are functions of the left brain. A right dominant person would try to see the picture as a whole. we use our right brain while listening to music or painting and the left brain while speaking or solving a puzzle.(b). Typically. The two hemispheres of our brain have distinct thinking processes. It is in search of proper questions. Whole Brain Thinking --------. Uses information for its effect. eliminating the non-viable solutions and then selecting the best of the rest? If so. we do make automatic shifts as per the occasion. Lateral Thinking Here we think to generate and explore ideas. It is in search of answers. It is a close-ended procedure aimed at result. Uses information in its meaning. rather than checking its individual correctness. Difference between Conventional (Vertical) and Lateral Thinking: Conventional (Vertical) Thinking Conventionally we think to choose and prove something. expects one thing to follow another. Whatever our dominance or preference be. 5 . Doesn’t consider anything as irrelevant. emotions. intuition. etc. Visualization. Seeks discontinuity. We could be right dominated or left and accordingly our interests or abilities would emerge. then you are probably left-dominant.Split-Brain Theory: Our abilities. Concentrates only on relevant facts eliminating irrelevant things. get a feel of what will work and place his trust in hunches or gut feeling.

say. we can perform our job more efficiently. use your right brain to understand what they can visualize so vividly but can’t describe clearly. organizing. They appear to be lost all the time. Successful managers have learned naturally how and when to use both sides of their brains. you have been made the manager of the R & D Department. They tend to rethink projects. it is possible and advantageous to develop the less preferred side. more easily and more creatively. Instead.. By choosing to balance our activities and thinking efforts. communicating etc. Give them space and try to make sense out of their ramblings. If we think in terms of management functions: planning. bringing up topics you thought were decided upon and closed last week. Why Whole Brain Thinking? Most of us dwell on the side that we are comfortable with. changing their minds for no apparent reasons. combining detail and logic with a sense of overview and invention. home of creativity. We would be able to take better control of the situations if we consciously selected the task-appropriate hemisphere to meet each demand. But. These have been recognized and developed making the corporate world a predominantly left brained one. Learning to use both sides of our brain would help unleash a little more of the enormous amount of brain power that we have. “take the second left and then the first right”. especially when they in turn think of you as narrow. Case Study: As part of job rotation. discipline and attention to detail alone. They also require free-spirited invention and comprehension of the overall picture.How would you guide a person to a particular place if asked to give directions? Again. “turn left when you come across this tall green building with a dome-shaped structure at the top”. How do you manage them. You find it frustrating to work with this team of people. But increasingly. a left dominant person would be precise and say something like. they are all left brain skills. They all seem so inefficient. Their heads are full of images and fantasies but they seem to be unable to express them clearly. home of logic and efficiency and the right side of the brain. Trying to impose structure and discipline is only going to hamper the creativity of the right brained researchers. Right dominants would go for visual cues. Allow daydreaming (that is probably the source of many of their 6 . business is recognizing that problems cannot be solved by logic. we must learn to draw from both the left side of the brain. The first thing to do is to realize that this is more a conflict between the hemispheres of the brain. rigid and uncooperative? Solution:This is atypical case of a left-brained director dealing with researchers who are normally right brain dominated. In other words. intuition and inspiration.

Short list such ideas and run through them again. Definition: This involves defining and writing down the problem and also outlining the objectives of having the brainstorming session. comfortable setting. (ii). you. (A). Making use of the less preferred hemisphere yourself and getting the employees to do so too would lead to increased communication and understanding. dreaming. Internal Brainstorming is simply the normal brainstorming except that there is only one person involved. the more effortlessly ideas will come.. Free-wheeling: This is a task for the right brain. Get into a quiet. See and feel the solutions and record the ideas that come. At other times. Simultaneously. the idea is rational. Cinematic: Cinematic is the process of seeing pictures in your mind’s eye. that is. Internal brainstorming involves thinking consciously with the left brain or the right. visualization.thoughts). Mind movers are strategies designed to help make conscious shifts between the hemispheres or integrate the thinking powers of both. (B). fantasizing…. (i). If both sides of your brain react positively. you may be so overpowered with some emotion that you may like to shift to left to keep yourself cool and sensible. it is time for evaluation. benefiting the company immensely. Often at this point a number of them fall into a pattern or form a whole solution. The more fully you experience right brain thinking. Keep a pencil and paper handy to jot down cue words for the ideas that come. No judgment at this stage. Do this with both right brain and left. and emotionally acceptable. Evaluation and Integration: Once ample ideas are generated. (iii). 7 . Visualization can help you solve problems and plan strategies as well as to learn and retrieve information. Internal Brainstorming The split brain theory shows conclusively that there is a neurologically sound basis for the rules of brainstorming. Internal brainstorming is an important step towards using your right brain and practicing conscious shifts between the hemispheres. get them to ask questions and come out with simple explanations themselves. Sometimes working hard on a problem with the left brained approach makes one so engrossed with ‘the’ solution or the next step in the plan that you are unable to shift right for a wider view. thus bringing a little order and clarity to the situation. This would be an analytical process involving the left brain.

However. Do research: Whatever you are planning to do. research the topic methodically. Suspenders: We have often watched scenes in which a lawyer lets out a stream of fast. Overloading the left brain is one of the two mental suspenders. the other being the exact opposite. Notice the contour of the face.e. Dress smart: This makes one feel confident and energetic. the shape of each of the features. (iii). (iii). Focus on details: To start with. (C). So. giving the reins to the right brain. Then try to recall the dream. the proportion of the sizes of the features. Work out alternatives and their pros and cons. the left brain state in which one is alert. (D). note down the start and end of your dream. Retrieval differs from daydreaming in that it is a conscious activity. Make informed decisions. When you are engaged in some routine chore which does not require active thinking. The left brain is flooded with questions and gets suspended. Just doing this will increase your comfort with matters of the left brain. (iv). i. your mind tends to wander. Uprights: The mind movers so far discussed were designed to help us make more use of the right brain in order to enhance our creativity and look at things with a fresh perspective. 8 . the hassled witness blurts out the truth. Having noticed all the details. try this on a photograph. try drawing a cartoon. Go back and put into words all the feelings that were being experienced. under stimulation of the left brain. (ii). sharp and ruthless questions and in the heat of the moment. (ii). mental suspenders evade the left and access the right in two ways: by overloading the left with details or by starving the left for information until it falls into boredom. Retracing the scene with emphasis on the emotions involved: You need to reconstruct the total scene with focus on the emotional content. for the right dominants. This happens because the boredom causes the left brain to shut down and the right brain takes over. Daydreaming: The first step is daydreaming. You choose to return to the scene using your right brain’s visual activity and evaluating what happened with your left brain.(i). You should be able to do it. Heighten your awareness of time and numbers: Keep records of everything. here are some tips which aid shifts to the left brain:(i). Reconstructing the scene: Once you are back to reality. Thus. This can prove invaluable if done consciously with a purpose. energetic. disciplined and efficient is imperative in our work setting. A monotonous lecture finds you daydreaming.

individually. One other characteristic is that Delphi does not require physical presence.e. Exercise your mind: Learn something from everything you do. • Vote on arguments. Decisions with Delphi express opinions rather than facts which requires group members to be experts. Plan: Analyze your daily activities and eliminate the non value-adding ones. structuring it into a speech and articulating fluently is a great exercise for the left brain. It is used for complex.(v). • Track suggested solutions. (vi). Delphi is based on the anonymity of the group members and is particularly oriented towards avoiding direct confrontation. their importance and validity. your resolve and performance will be greater. Set aside time for specific tasks you have to do and do them then. The process of collecting information. unstructured problems. • Results are re-tabulated and shown to the group. The stages followed are: • Generation of individual opinions (on the nature of problem and possible solutions). • Vote on alternatives. Speak easy: Speaking in public is a sure way of developing your left brain. • Tabulate results and show them to the group(preserving anonymity). Try to memorize information that you have come across and use it. to develop the strongest pro and con arguments for alternative resolutions. • The group members read the list of opinions and. re-state their opinions. 9 . Delphi Technique in Creativity: A method of pooling a large number of expert judgments through a series of increasingly refined questionnaires i. their desirability and feasibility. (vii). • The most and least favored opinions must be re-stated (anonymously). Such exercises in self-discipline require the use of the left brain and with every success. gathering the judgments of experts for use in decision making. The Delphi process is based on a silent generation of suggestions and arguments and clustering on most favored and least favored alternatives.

Explain Nominal Group Technique and Delphi method. Whole brain thinking. Brainstorming. 3. Write short notes on Brainstorming as a problem solving tool. What is the concept of Lateral Thinking and how is it different from Conventional thinking? 10 . Explain briefly any three of the creativity based techniques. (c).Question bank for Self-Practice 1. Nominal group technique. 2. How do these help in improving productivity and creativity? 4. How do these techniques help in productivity improvement? (a). (b).