Post-its help problem solvingPost-it notes were flying in a session on creative problem-solving.

Trevor McAlpine of Synergetic Management had members of IABC/Toronto’s Professional Independent Communicators covering the Post-its with ideas in a fast-paced session on creativity.

The tactic was part of Trevor’s six-step creativity framework for harnessing ideas to solve business challenges:

  1. Explore the vision. Ask, What could it look/feel/sound like? What could it mean/be/do?
  2. Formulate challenges. Get clear on what’s missing. What are the barriers? What’s stopping you?
  3. Explore ideas. Create a broad concept.
  4. Formulate solutions. Elaborate on your idea and make it more real.
  5. Explore acceptance. How could you get the world to accept your idea? Who do you need on board?
  6. Formulate a plan. Who will do what by when?

The “engine of creativity,” he said, is using both divergent thinking and convergent thinking.

Divergent thinking expands your original ideas by following these rules:

  • Defer judgement
  • Go for quantity
  • Make connections
  • Seek novelty

Convergent thinking narrows the choices by following these rules:

  • Use affirmative judgement
  • Keep novelty alive
  • Check your objectives
  • Stay focused

Questions to get started include “How might I…?” and “In what ways might I…?”

Using the Post-it notes, each group first wrote down the brilliant ideas to solve a problem (gaining new clients or increasing revenue, for instance), then shuffled the notes into organized categories.

“Not all the turtles make it to the sea,” Trevor said of the ideas that come out of sessions like these, but they are well worth pursuing. “Creativity changes the world.”

How do you spark creativity? Do these steps ring true for you?

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