Being an Innovator, but not an Ideas Person

Five years ago, someone I knew well approached me about an innovation role in our organisation. Do you know what I said? “Hmm, I don’t know about that. I mean, I can’t even draw a stick figure.” That was my association: innovation = creativity = being a good artist = not me. Thankfully, he at least knew enough to respond with, “Yeah, I don’t think that’s what it’s about.” Turns out, he was right. I was kind of right too. Coming up with ideas, the bit that we tend to associate with creativity, is not my preference. But I am creative.

We are all creative. Genuinely, all of us. Every day we all solve problems, whether big or small. A dad improvising with a sock as a bandage for his daughter’s grazed knee in the playground. A police negotiator trying to diffuse a hostage situation. An admin who needs to figure out how his boss is going to be in three places at one time. A teacher looking to re-engage a student who is on the verge of flunking her exams.

Yet, whilst we are all creative, we engage in creative problem-solving in different ways. No where does this play out more clearly than in meetings or workshops. You’ll have one or two people bouncing off the walls with ideas, post-its all over the place. Someone else will quickly decide which idea is best and will be out the door and pulling together a task force before the meeting is over. There will be someone sitting quietly weighing up the pros and cons of different ideas and thinking through how each one would actually work in practice. Then suddenly, someone else pipes up, “But what are we even talking about? I’m not sure we’ve got the right problem here. We need more information.” Sound familiar?

18 months ago, I became certified as a FourSight Facilitator. Drawing on over 65 years of research into critical and creative thinking, FourSight does two things. First, it provides a four-step framework for creative problem-solving, which is both universal and instinctive. Second, the FourSight Assessment shows how you and others in your team or organisation like to engage in the creative problem-solving process. Understanding your own preferences and those of the people you work closely with can support better team dynamics and enable you to leverage each other’s different thinking styles to solve complex problems and achieve breakthrough innovations. With knowledge of the FourSight framework, your meetings will never be the same again.

During November, Katie and I will be running a series of Virtual FourSight Workshops for individuals and teams. You can either sign up to one of these or contact us to arrange a private session for your team.

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