Monthly Archives: April 2013

Basadur Profile (CPSP) to be Featured in Prestigious Journal

min copy I received exciting news last week. My most recently written research paper has been accepted for publication in the prestigious Journal of Applied Behavioral Science. The paper, co-authored with Tim Basadur and our London colleague Dr. Garry Gelade explains the research and science underlying the development of the Basadur Creative Problem Solving Profile (CPSP) and how the Profile is the fundamental building block directly inter-connected to the circular creative problem solving Process (called Simplexity).

This theoretical work has been underway for a very long, tough time. It is so much easier to experientially understand the Profile and the Process (learning by doing) than by analytical, detached thinking! To try to explain them in words is much more difficult, and nearly impossible, especially to folks for whom the world of creativity is very foreign.

Titled “Creative Problem Solving Process Styles, Cognitive Work Demands and Organizational Adaptability,” the academic paper explains the theoretical underpinnings of the profile, outlines the empirical results of field research and examples of applications, and adds a discussion of implications for innovation, personal and group development and change making. The article is breakthrough, in that the CPSP and creative problem solving as a scientifically rigorous process have finally been understood and accepted at the academic level. This journal is read by academics, Organizational Development practitioners and higher level Human Resource managers seeking new scientifically proven, people-centered technologies they can adopt.

The many people to whom I have taught the CPSP and the Simplexity process over the years have readily understood and applied it successfully. However, for the many experts in the human resources, organizational development, management and creative problem solving fields that I have never been able to reach, the paper should provide a new opportunity to truly understand how the profile can be used to help them hire innovative individuals and build innovative teams and organizations.

Briefly, the Basadur Profile is an instrument that helps individuals identify and understand their unique styles for solving problems. Each unique style indicates preferences for gaining and using knowledge, and reflects the portion of the creative problem solving process that an individual is most inclined toward.Profile

Generators create options in the form of new possibilities or new problems that might be solved as well as by generating new opportunities that might be capitalized on.

Conceptualizers create options in the form of alternate ways to understand and define a problem or opportunity as well as by offering good ideas that help solve it.

Optimizers create options in the form of ways to get an idea to work in practice and by uncovering all of the factors that go into a successful implementation plan.

Implementers create options in the form of actions that get results and gain acceptance for implementing a change or a new idea.

Generators define problems as opportunities and create options by proactively searching for new problems or new opportunities. Conceptualizers seek alternate ways to understand and define a problem or create ideas to help solve it. Optimizers prefer to focus on practical solutions and uncovering all of the factors that go into a successful implementation plan, while Implementers are driven to get results and gain acceptance for a new idea or change.

Of course, most of us are a blend of the above styles. But understanding the roles we prefer when handling problems helps us to think about the actual problem solving process – the steps that we have to go through to take a glimmer of an idea and turn it into a successful program or product.

It also helps us recognize and value the skills others may bring to a team, as we cycle through the complete innovation process of finding good problems to solve, developing good solutions to those problems and implementing the solutions.

I’m thrilled that my research and work continues to contribute to the body of knowledge in the creativity field, and hope it inspires others. I will be sure to let you know when the article is published and how you can access it.

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A Good Idea, But…

How many times have you heard the phrase, “It’s a good idea, but…?”

Invariably, the “but” is followed by a list of reasons why the good idea should be abandoned immediately, in its entirety, without even a moment more of consideration. And frequently, that’s exactly what happens.

Even if the “but” wasn’t terribly consequential, or could have been overcome, the negative thinking underlying the statement tends to doom good ideas that may have had the potential to be built into game-changing innovations. Despite paying lip service to the importance of creativity and innovation, we often greet unusual or novel suggestions with an almost immediate barrage of reasons why we can’t do things that way.

But what if we could find a way to maintain forward momentum while still outlining challenges? By deliberately and routinely using the phrase “How Might We…?”, we can turn negative thinking on its head, and put the focus on finding ways to bring good ideas to life, rather than putting them to death.

Rather than saying, “It’s a good idea, but…”, we respond with, “It’s a good idea. How might we free up money in the budget/staff time/computer resources to make it work?”

By focusing on the possible challenges that stand in the way of implementing the good idea, we not only preserve the idea as a possible route forward, but we also bring our energy and thinking to bear on the true challenge, which is the shortage of budget or staff time or computer resources.

“How might we…?” also sets a tone of collaboration, with its implicit suggestion that we can all pull together to eliminate challenges. It is a unifying statement, as compared to the divisive “good idea, but”, which establishes an atmosphere of conflict and creates the impression that one person is throwing roadblocks in front of another’s suggestion.

Good ideas are a resource none of us can ever have too many of, and they need to be nurtured and treasured. By incorporating “How Might We…?” into our evaluation of options, we can protect, preserve and build on new and innovative concepts and visions.

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Fishing Through the Fuzz: How Might We Catch the Challenge That Brings New Opportunity?

Problem solving and innovation would be much easier tasks if problems would only present themselves fully formed and clearly defined. We’d know exactly what we were trying to achieve, and could leap instantly into finding a solution. In the real world however, no one presents us with problems; to keep ahead of the game, we have to go looking for them.  And, no matter how we get them, we’re often facing ambiguous situations where the fuzzy outlines of intertwined problems and opportunities float murkily below the surface. We know that we need to act, but we’re not always exactly sure what we’re attempting to accomplish through those actions.

Einstein

 

 

It was this reality that led Einstein to claim that if he had an hour to solve a problem, he would spend the first 55 minutes defining the problem, and only the last five minutes in action.

It’s highly tempting, particularly for people focused on getting results in today’s fast-paced world, to pull a problem – any problem – out of the murky depths and launch into finding a solution. And in a world of unlimited time and resources, it would probably be a reasonable strategy. If we solved all the problems, eventually we’d be sure to solve a useful one, right? But in our world of finite resources, solving the wrong problems is a distracting task that squanders energy and goodwill.

The best way to avoid the pitfall is to follow a clear process through the stages of problem solving. From the fuzzy situation, possible problems are identified, facts are gathered and a final problem is eventually clearly defined – often a breakthrough, out-of-the-box discovery. A range of solution ideas are created/imagined, followed by evaluation and selection of a new optimal solution. Only then does the plan for implementing the solution, promoting its merit and taking action finally occur.

SimplexWheel

When teams and leaders really understand how the process works, and bring well-developed skills and attitudes to the discussion, the sea of murky choices can yield a catch of outstanding opportunities.

 

 

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A New Way of Doing Politics: Town of Pelham Embraces Innovation Process

We expect a lot from our politicians. We demand that they simultaneously prepare for the future while preserving our heritage; protect the vulnerable while enabling the strongest among us to excel; and build tomorrow’s cities and countries while balancing today’s budgets. With challenges like that, success can only come when the brightest of minds are given the tactics, tools and processes that allow them to collaborate on solutions.

In recognition of the complex challenges they face, municipal councillors in the town of Pelham, Ontario are proposing to use our Simplexity system (www.basadur.com) to explore creative solutions to a variety of key issues across their community.

With an initial question of How Might We Improve the Quality of Life in Pelham?, specific action plans have been created to explore ways to improve customer service, identify areas of opportunity and speed up council decision making.

“Council instructed staff to draft a corporate policy detailing the innovative problem solving process and how it will be embedded into our Town’s organizational structure,” said Mayor Dave Augustyn in a press release recently issued by the town. (www.pelham.ca)

Transforming the creative culture has been on the agenda in Pelham over the last year. Councillors and staff have been trained in using the Simplexity creative problem solving process. Several tough political challenges have recently been successfully tackled using the process, rather than the traditional political approach of debate. Over the coming months, the town intends to begin engaging the public in problem solving as part of its regular consultation process.

 

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But Do We Really Mean It…?

Promotions, raises, pats on the back and even just the regular paycheck are among the ways organizations show their employees that they are valued and their contributions are recognized.
But it’s not that uncommon for organizational rewards to be out of sync with the behaviors employees are told are valued. And when there’s a conflict between a company’s words and its rewards, want to guess what speaks most loudly to staff?

Examples of Inconsistencies between Desired Behaviors and Reward Systems:

We hope for… But we reward…
Long term growth; environmental responsibility Quarterly earnings
Setting challenging “stretch” objectives Achieving goals: “making the numbers”
Commitment to total quality Shipping on schedule, even with defects
Teamwork and collaboration The best team members
Innovative thinking and risk taking Proven methods and not making mistakes
Development of people skills Technical achievements and accomplishments
Employee involvement and empowerment Tight control over operations and resources
High achievement Another year’s effort

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