Lighting the Creativity Lamp

Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.

—Edward de Bono Creative Thinker

Learning Objectves-

At the end of this chapter, and when applying concepts covered, you will be able to:

• Recognize different forms of creativity.

• Describe the four steps of the creativity process.

• Develop and use a variety of creative problem-solving techniques in training.

• Modify current training practices to enhance learning outcomes.

• Decide which personal paradigms are stifling creatively and work toward changing them.

• Apply a variety of creativity enablers to training in order to help learners expand their creative thinking ability.

• Find and eliminate personal and organizational creativity inhibitors.

a reativity is a state of mind. For you to be adept at training others in a challeng ing and successful manner takes thought on your part and sometimes requires thinking outside the box or from a different perspective. Taking such an approach can separate you from the average trainer who follows a standard format and rarely makes changes to his or her content or delivery style.

The ability to be creative is not innate, but rather is a skill that can be learned and improved upon through the use of various systems and strategies. There are certainly facets of the brain at work influencing the approach that you and your participants use as you strive to develop answers or solutions to issues. As you read in Chapter 1, however, creativity is not simply a right-brain function, as was once believed. It is a whole brain process in which creative ideas are the result of many factors. Creativity also requires competency in the areas of divergent (generating a quantity of diverse ideas) and convergent (selecting the most appropriate idea) thinking.

From a creativity standpoint, the average person exhibits a variety of innovative ideas and talents throughout any given day without sometimes labeling such behavior as creative. For example, whenever someone offers a different perspective to a point you or someone else makes, in a training session, he or she is creatively looking at an alternative. In addition, when participants brainstorm potential issues and solutions to problems, they are being creative. Likewise, when someone begins to daydream and starts doodling on a piece of paper, he or she is creating.

Luckily, true creativity can come from a childlike approach to training. Children often are unaware that something cannot be done because they have not previously attempted it. The challenge for many children, who later recall early experiences as they grow older, is that teachers, parents, and other adults teach them not to be creative, by requiring them to "color within the lines," "speak when spoken to," "shut up and listen," and in a variety of other ways.

Adults can regress to that childlike simplicity by experimenting and thinking freely. Too often creativity is limited by a person's attitude or motivation. For example, participants can actually inhibit their own potential creativity by making statements similar to the following:

I'm just not a creative person.

I never have any good ideas.

I don't have time to be creative.

I don't know where to get creative ideas.

I don't know how people come up with all their creative ideas.

Of all those statements, the one that is probably closest to the truth is that they do not know how to come up with creative ideas. That is what you will read about in this chapter. Creativity is more about strategy and technique than ability. By using tools such as those covered in this chapter, you will be able to add a spark to your own creativity and that of your participants.

PUTTING YOUR BRAIN TO WORK: ACTIVITY

To get a better idea of strategies that you can use to increase your own creativity and that of your learners, answer the following questions. You might also want to ask others to respond to the questions and compile their responses.

What are some of the general characteristics of people whom you consider to be creative (e.g., good organizers or problem solvers)?_

What creative techniques do you use or know of that can increase the number of answers or options identified during problem-solving or in addressing an issue (e.g., brainstorming)?_

• IDENTIFYING CREATIVITY

Many trainers and facilitators often face a challenge in identifying and implementing new training techniques and strategies. They either do not expend the effort or do not know how to examine things from differing perspectives—to think outside the box. Tradition and status quo often dictate their training design and delivery efforts. They approach the learning environment with the same tools, content, activities, and techniques each time they conduct a session, usually because of their comfort level with the normal way of doing things. It also does not require much thought or any additional design, planning, or rehearsal time. For whatever reason, approaching training in this manner can lead to complacency or boredom on the part of the trainer. Ultimately, there is also a disservice to participants who experience delivery of a program by a less than enthusiastic leader.

You can increase your own effectiveness by remaining committed continually to improving your content and enhancing your delivery style. Simply by taking the time to evaluate the format and content of your sessions periodically you can add a spark. Something as simple as using a different icebreaker activity or using random techniques for identifying small group leaders and scribes (see Chapter 6) can energize you and your group.

To get to a point where you are not afraid to use creative approaches in your training, you must first learn what creativity is. Creativity in training essentially involves looking at program topics, content, and delivery objectively, then searching for alternative ways to present key elements and, if necessary, modify them or your approach to them.

Adding a Spark to Training

To increase your creativity quotient, make a promise to yourself that each time you prepare a session, you will change at least one activity and the way that you will identify and group leaders and volunteers. This will cause you to think and add variety for you and will also potentially engage participants.

A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. —Martin H. Fischer

It is important to remember that creativity is a process by which you identify new ideas. You do so most effectively by examining each element from various perspectives. This can be accomplished using any of the strategies found in this chapter, or through use of similar ones. To better understand how the creativity process works, look at a road map. Find any two major cities that are geographically located near one another. Note that there is likely a main highway (similar to a program objective) that connects the two cities, however, there are probably many smaller roads (strategies or techniques) that branch and ultimately lead from one city to the other. To apply this metaphor to your training, select any program that you currently design and deliver. Next, on a sheet of paper, list as many alternative techniques and activities for accomplishing session objectives as you can. Now, take a "side road" by selecting any alternative from your list to substitute for one that you currently use. The result will be that your session objectives will be met while you take a different route or add variety and creativity to your training.

PUTTING YOUR BRAIN TO WORK: ACTIVITY

To practice viewing items from a different perspective, take a look at Figure 2-1. Take a few minutes and attempt to determine how many squares there are in the image.

How many did you find? The solution is in the Tools for Trainers section of the appendices. If you are like most people, you started with the obvious ones. However, to find all of them, you had to go deeper into the image, as if you were peeling back an onion. When you did, you likely started making larger combinations of boxes to form more squares.

Similar to many of the issues that you and your participants encounter in your training, this figure illustrates the value of not making assumptions or approaching a situation from the "normal" perspective. This latter concept is a key element in creative thinking and in your ability to add pizzazz to your training sessions.

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