Profit from Your Creativity


Sample Program Copy

A day-glow yellow light bulb on each chair gives every participant his or her own script for conducting an idea-generating session. During this exhilarating workshop, attendees \actually produce profitable ideas for themselves and their organizations -- and delight in hearing reports from upfront on what other groups have thought up! And that poster-size light bulb goes on their corkboard when they get home, enabling them to spark creativity in their colleagues!

Scenario and Client Responses

Your staff meeting is proceeding smoothly -- too smoothly.

Everything that's being suggested -- for new offerings, promotion and advertising, catalog design, events, conferences, workshops, administrative procedures -- is sound...but familiar.

You're having that feeling of dejas vu all over again. Your gut tells you that there must be some new ideas, new approaches. But no one is coming up with anything really fresh or exciting.

What to do?

You reach above your head -- to the corkboard behind you, on which is a glowing yellow placard in the shape of a light bulb (pictured below). It's a simple, anytime-anywhere formular for getting any group to think creatively.

The illustration shows one side: the basic process. On the other side is a very simple script with the exact words you say to the group, to spark some creative thinking. At your planning session you might start off by saying:

"Your ideas seem sound, as far as they go. But I'd like to astonish our clientele a little. How could we give them some benefits or enjoyment
that goes beyond what we've done before. I have the feeling we can be more creative.

"Let's devote the remaining half hour of this meeting to a 'Creative Pause.' I'd like you to just pick three aspects of our program -- anything from advertising to recruiting exciting new teachers -- and let's generate some fresh, new ideas.

Three topics are proposed, and you start with the first one. "Let's just brainsorm, to start things off. Please, no criticisms or negative comments. Listen -- and see if you can each 'leap-frog', using every idea as a provocation to generate others. Go for quantity at this point."

The flow is slow, at first. But within minutes the pace picks up. The group's off-and-running. Pretty soon, people begin laughing, but warmly, at each other's "far-out" ideas -- and finding some possibilities in some of them. Rather than criticizing each other, they're now building on each other's contributions.

Subsequent phases of this process lead to the choice of the most interesting ideas, the refinement of some of them, and the decision to look further into the most promising.

The brief 'Creative Pause' has yielded from one to five ideas which were not "on the table" when you started -- though they may have been lurking in the minds of some people who didn't feel comfortable expressing them.

Not only that, people feel "up". They have joined with each other to use their imaginations and stimulate each other.

Can you get new ideas just such a simple process. Absolutely. It works every time.

Will you always come up with wonderful, usable innovations? Not a chance. That's not the point.

You can't guarantee results -- no one can, when it comes to creativity.
All you can do is to invite, permit, encourage, and reward the process.

But the more you do that -- the more occasions on which you let your staff know that you want fresh thinking -- the more good results you will get. Staff members who have new ideas will be encouraged to share them, rather than stifling them because everyone seems satisfied with the old chestnuts.

Professionals in any lifelong learning enterprise can benefit immensely from such "creative pauses." And so do professionals in other fields, ranging from business and government, to medicine and computer technology.

For example, Sheilah Harrison of the American Financial Services Association had me use this method on 300 of the nation's leaders in personal and business lending. Participants not only learned the method, but used it to generate ideas for increasing profitability in their firms -- and shared their ideas in presentations to the group. It was a rousing, stimulating, involving

"It was one of the most exhilarating and useful sessions we've ever had," says Harrison. "Our members were energized and creative. They got a chance to display their own resourcefulness, and benefit from that of their colleagues. The report-outs from upfront were impressive. I couldn't have been more pleased.

Copyright © 1999 Ronald Gross

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