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matrix vision newsletter
Creativity & Innovation Issue
April, 2010 - Vol 3, Issue 4
In This Issue
Innovation Ideas
50 Phrases that Kill Creativity
Creativity and Feedback
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Story of the Month

A lady takes her pet chihuahua with her on a safari holiday. Wandering too far one day the chihuahua gets lost in the bush, and soon encounters a very hungry looking leopard. The chihuahua realises he's in trouble, but, noticing some fresh bones on the ground, he settles down to chew on them, with his back to the big cat. As the leopard is about to leap, the chihuahua smacks his lips and exclaims loudly, "Boy, that was one delicious leopard. I wonder if there are any more around here."


The leopard stops mid-stride, and slinks away into the trees.

"Phew," says the leopard, "that was close - that evil little dog nearly had me."


A monkey nearby sees everything and thinks he'll win a favour by putting the stupid leopard straight. The chihuahua sees the monkey go after the leopard, and guesses he might be up to no good.


When the leopard hears the monkey's story he feels angry at being made a fool, and offers the monkey a ride back to see him exact his revenge.

The little dog sees them approaching and fears the worse.


Thinking quickly, the little dog turns his back, pretends not to notice them, and when the pair are within earshot says aloud, "Now where's that monkey got to? I sent him ages ago to bring me another leopard..."


Creativity Quotes
"Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things."
Theodore Levitt
" It is better to have enough ideas and for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.
Edward De Bono
"Genius means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way.
William James
"Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.
Mary Lou Cook

 "An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.
Victor Hugo

"An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.
Edwin Land
"Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.
Erich Fromm

 "Creative minds are rarely tidy.
Author Unknown

 "All progress comes from unreasonable men.
George Bernard Shaw

Welcome to the matrix vision newsletter for April (lucky this is not about time management).  This month's newsletter is focussed on Creativity & Innovation.    
This newsletter presents some tips and tools on how to improve Creativity and Innovation in your organisation.  We have articles including: 
  • the importance of innovation,
  • how the school system can stifle creative thinking and expression,
  • BRAINWRITING - an idea generation tool,
  • ideas to build a climate of innovation and,
  • the "Killer Phrases" that destroy creativity

Enjoy your reading and as always your feedback would be welcome!

If any of the information interests you and if you would like to find out how it can help you please contact us.  We would love to talk with you.
InnovationMost companies know that innovation - people implementing new ideas that create value - is important, even imperative, to their futures.
However, they often get so caught up in day-to-day operations and the quarterly return mindset that they put off actually doing what's needed to create the systems and competencies necessary to become truly innovative. Here are some recent statistics about innovation:
  • Innovative companies, defined by "percentage of revenue generated from products less than 5 years old," experience profit growth at four times the rate of non-innovative organisations.
  • A survey of 400 companies found that 70 percent of companies' mission statements and top objectives mentioned innovation. Only a few companies have the processes and infrastructure in place to manage innovation.
  • A survey of 350 organisations, conducted by CBI and 3M Innovation, found that less than 15 percent of companies have any systems in place to manage innovation, and only 40 percent have established any formal procedures.
These statistics indicate a business climate of talking rather than doing, of not "walking the talk."  So the question is no longer, "Should we be focused on innovation?"
It is now a series of questions, including "How should we go about innovating?", "How much should we do?", "What is the most effective way to become more innovative?" and "What should we do first?" 
Do Schools Kill Creativity?
Sir Ken Robinson an international leader on creativity and human resources and an excellent speaker believes that is exactly what is happening.
He argues that the secret of creativity is that you must be prepared to be wrong. He believes that if you are not prepared to be wrong you will never come up with anything original.  However, by the time that we get to be adults most of us have lost that capacity. We have become frightened of being wrong and he suggests that we run our organisations that way.
However, the culprit, he believes is the education system. He says the National Education Systems are run so that mistakes are the worst things you can make. He concludes that we are educating children out of their creative capacities.
Sir Ken states that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think that they are not because the thing they were good at at school wasn't valued or was actually stigmatised.
He tells the story of Gyllian Lynne, the gifted choreographer of CATS.  While she was at school she was believed to have a learning disorder, so her mother took her to the doctor and explained about her fidgeting and lack of focus. After hearing everything her mother said, the doctor told Lynne that he needed to talk to her mother privately for a moment. He turned on the radio and walked out. He then encouraged her mother to look at Lynne, who was dancing to the radio. The doctor noted that she was a dancer, and encouraged Lynne's mother to take her to dance school. She went on to have a brilliant career that could have been stifled when she was very young.
To view Sir Ken Robinson's interesting and entertaining presentation on TED   CLICK HERE.
Sir Ken's argument reminds me of the Harry Chapin song "Flowers are Red"
The song concerns a little boy who starts school.  He begins drawing flowers using all of the different coloured crayons that he has.  However this gets the attention of the teacher who says:

" Flowers are red young man

Green leaves are green

There's no need to see flowers any other way

Than the way they always have been seen"

The little boy replies:
"There are so many colours in the rainbow
So many colours in the morning sun
So many colours in the flower, and I see every one"
The teacher puts the little boy in the corner for being "sassy" and he eventually learns to toe the line to the extent that later, when he is given permission by another teacher to explore his creativity he repeats what his original teacher had drummed into him.
To watch a live performance of Harry Chapin singing "Flowers are Red"    CLICK HERE.
The lesson from what appears above is that if we really want creative new ideas of value from the people in our organisation we need to build an environment that encourages people to think differently.
If you would like some help in building creativity in your organisation give us a call and we can talk with you about how we can help you.
Brainwriting is one of the simplest idea-generation techniques and often creates some breakthrough ideas as people build on the ideas of others. It works best with small groups
of five to nine people and two of the three worksheets provided here include stimulator words to make it an even more powerful tool. Here are the guidelines: 
  1. Review the issue or purpose for the session.
  2. Develop in advance the criteria for success.
  3. Work silently (discussion will follow the ideation time).
  4. Be specific. Every idea should have a subject and a verb; for example, "create a weekly newsletter."
  5. Don't judge ideas. Quantity counts.
  6. Build on ideas, reverse them, and turn them inside out or upside down.
Generating Ideas:
  1. Print out a worksheet for each person and distribute them to everyone participating in the session.
  2. Each person writes one idea in each of the three boxes of one line.
  3. When a person has filled in one line of three boxes, he or she puts the sheet in the center of the group's table and takes a new worksheet from those in the center of the table.
  4. Each person adds three more ideas to each sheet taken, building on ideas where appropriate or just adding new ideas as they occur.
  5. Allow 20-30 minutes or stop when it's obvious that energy is lagging.
Processing Ideas: (With more than nine people, break into subgroups.)
  1. Establish or review criteria for success.
  2. Each person takes one sheet and marks an "X" beside the ideas that are interesting.
  3. Participants exchange sheets and mark interesting ideas, repeating the exchange until everyone has seen three sheets. Ask participants to hold on to the third sheet they process. Easy!
  4. From the worksheet she or he is holding, each person reads the ideas that have three Xs, then the ones with 2 Xs, and then those with a single X.
  5. Look for any "orphan" ideas-those for which someone has a lot of passion around but that no one considered interesting.
  6. Cut the ideas apart and tape or glue the ideas that received votes onto index cards.
  7. Tape the index cards onto flipchart sheets in order of priorities-3 Xs together on one sheet, 2 Xs on another sheet, and so on. Have everyone walk around and reread the ideas. Begin a discussion about which ideas are best and ways to make them even stronger.
Judging Ideas:
  1. Review the criteria again.
  2. Use the process called Quadrant Collaboration to create a quadrant to help you map the ideas generated against two important criteria.
  3. Use the process Dot Voting with a Difference to select one or two ideas to develop further.
There are three Brainwriting Worksheets, with directions for use. Choose whichever worksheet best fits your situation.
The first one is the Basic Brainwriting Worksheet. It has empty cells for participants to fill. HERE 
The second sheet is the Brainwriting Worksheet with Random Words. HERE 
The third one is the Brainwriting Worksheet with SCAMPER Plus. HERE
Brainwriting is just one of many tools that we at Matrix Vision can teach you which can help you improve the creative processes in your organisation. 
Look at our Innovation and Creative Skills Program which we can modify to suit your needs.
    We can help you improve your organisation through helping you define the tools that can best help you develop the skills to creatively pursue innovative solutions. Give us a call.
    Innovation Ideas
    Innovation Ideas 

    There are many ways to foster innovation in your organisation or workgroup. Some examples are:
    • Have a "Failure Party" at which people share their worst idea or biggest failure. Encourage management participation. Make it fun.
    • Print out a sheet of Innovation Principles and post it prominently where it will remind others of innovation. Make sure it's in all meeting rooms.
    • Stimulate conversations around innovation in meetings, in the halls, wherever you can.
    • Create your own email list of people who understand how important innovation is. Email them short, interesting articles or stories to sustain their interest.
    • Model innovation. Make sure people see you taking on new challenges, making mistakes, honouring ideas, being collaborative, and taking time to learn the lessons from the projects you finish.
    • Make your office an innovation magnet. Make it colorful and fun with books, tapes, toys, and models or graphic representations of projects.
    • Start an innovation group and talk about how you can spread innovation to the tipping point!
    • Pick a book about creativity and start an innovation book club.
    • Ask some of your coworkers how they define innovation and then talk about what gets in your way of doing it.
    • Send an innovation article to your boss and ask if you can meet to talk about it.
    • Start an innovation book shelf in your office. Invite people to borrow the books. (Be prepared to lose them.)
    • Share articles and stories about what innovation looks like in your own organisation and in other organisations.
    • At every meeting ask, "Are we being innovative?" Or, "Is there a better way to do this?"
    • Always ask, "What else could we do?" when thinking about projects or problems.
    • Always ask, "Does this support our vision? Does this create value for our customers?" when thinking about projects.
    • Share examples of innovative ideas related to your business and get innovators on the same page.
    • In a meeting, carve out a "total agreement" time, at which point all ideas must be agreed with and built on to find the "greatness" in them. No negativity allowed!
    • Make a provocative poster that reads, "Rumour has it that our competitors are making time for innovation."
    • Send an email with the start of a storyline about a success in the organisation and have people add to it.
    • Hold a "dump old ideas" lunch. Ask, "What's one thing we can stop doing so we have more time for innovation?" Then determine how actions can be taken on the best ideas.
    • Ask employees to create a "Perfect World" wall graphic. Use it to stimulate conversation about how to make the work environment a more perfect world.
    • Produce an Innovation Fair at which people create posters or displays of innovation projects that have been completed or that they are working on and would like help with.
    • Declare a "Purple-Idea Day" during which people generate really far-out ideas. Or declare a "Red-Idea Day" for those ideas that are too hot to handle. Carry the color scheme throughout. When ideas are gathered, you might publish the "Purple Sheet" or the "Red News" to management.
    • Form Idea Teams- groups that meet for one coffee break each week to generate ideas on specified topics. (This might also be a way to get people to work with people outside their normal work group.)
    • Hold an Innovation Story Hour during which people tell stories of innovation processes they've been involved in. Identify the principles behind these stories and talk about how to create an environment that supports innovation.
    • Hold a "What Could We Do to Prevent Creativity and Innovation?" brainstorming session. Then do the opposite.
    • Create an idea gift exchange. It's always easier to solve someone else's problem. Have people generate ideas for each other's opportunities, projects, or problems.
    • Hold a "Reality Show Idea Fair" during which employees put on performances and demonstrations of how their ideas would work in real life.
    • Show an innovation video on Friday afternoon. Discuss the video afterward.
    • Identify some successful innovators in the organisation or from the community and ask them to make a presentation about innovation at lunch.
    • Create a "Featured Customer" series of lunches to help people understand customers more fully. Ask customers or people who have regular and close contact with them to make the presentations.
    • Invite people to join a Trend Search. Have them spend two weeks looking at everything they can find-magazines, books, papers, movies, the Web-and talking to people about what's new in the world. Ask them to come together and discuss their findings at the end of the two weeks.
    • Cross-fertilise by forming triads across business units or departments and talking about problems and opportunities to see what new thinking arises.
    • Become more familiar with company strategy. Arrange an open session and ask a senior executive to discuss strategy and how it relates to innovation.
    • Identify subject matter experts who are visiting the organisation and ask them to make presentations on their areas of interest at sessions open to everyone.
    We can help you improve your organisation through assisting you with understanding and implementing some of these innovation tools. We also train people in the various creative thinking tools that support innovation. Give us a call.
    Fifty Phrases that Kill Creativity
    Idea Killer
    Killer Phrase - 1. a knee-jerk response that squelches new ideas; most commonly used by bosses, parents and government officials. 2. a threat to innovation.
    We are bombarded by Killer Phrases every day.  They stifle our ideas, short circuit creative thinking and undercut the very notion of innovation.  Even worse, they talk us out of our hopes and dreams.
    Of course we need warnings.  We'd be grateful to have anyone shout, "No don't do that!" right before we step into the path of a moving train.  And when we are trying out a new idea, we appreciate constructive feedback.  Killer Phrases are different, arising from our natural resistance to change.  The naysayer's goal is to stop ideas in their tracks, before they have a chance to disrupt the status quo.  Killer Phrases are those uniquely negative statements that make us think, "I wish I'd never suggested that idea" and to think twice before making the next suggestion.  Here are some examples:
      1. We tried that before.
      2. Our place is different.
      3. It costs too much.
      4. That's not my job.
      5. They're too busy to do that.
      6. We don't have the time.
      7. Not enough help.
      8. It's too radical a change.
      9. The staff will never buy it.
      10. It's against company policy.
      11. The union will scream.
      12. Runs up our overhead.
      13. We don't have the authority.
      14. Let's get back to reality.
      15. That's not our problem.
      16. I don't like the idea.
      17. You're right, but...
      18. You're two years ahead of your time.
      19. We're not ready for that.
      20. It isn't in the budget.
      21. Can't teach an old dog new tricks.
      22. Good thought, but impractical.
      23. Let's give it more thought.
      24. We'll be the laughing stock of the industry.
      25. Not that again.
      26. Where'd you dig that one up?
      27. We did all right without it.
      28. It's never been tried before.
      29. Let's put that one on the back burner for now.
      30. Let's form a committee.
      31. I don't see the connection.
      32. It won't work in our plant/office.
      33. The executive committee would never go for it.
      34. Let's all sleep on it.
      35. It can't be done.
      36. It's too much trouble to change.
      37. It won't pay for itself.
      38. It's impossible.
      39. I know a person who tried it.
      40. We've always done it this way.
      41. Top management won't buy it.
      42. We'd lose money in the long run.
      43. Don't rock the boat.
      44. That's what we can expect from the staff.
      45. Has anyone else ever tried it?
      46. Let's look into it further (later).
      47. Quit dreaming.
      48. That won't work here.
      49. That's too much ivory tower.
      50. It's too much work.
     adapted from "Yes, But......" by Charles Thompson
    If you would like to talk about how you can fight these "Killer Phrases" give us a call
    Creativity and Feedback
    20/20 Logo 
    Matrix Vision is a value added reseller and a user of the most powerful and versatile feedback software tool available today.
    People need an efficient, confidential and anonymous vehicle for giving feedback to each other. State-of-the-art software can simplify the process of collecting multi-source (360) feedback for anyone in your organisation.
    20/20 Insight GOLD is the world's most versatile feedback tool. With this system, we can set up surveys to collect virtually any type of feedback-ideas, opinions, impressions, ratings - from any number of people about the performance of an individual, a team or even your organisation as a whole.organisation.
    Creativity and Feedback
    Many organisations would like and need some feedback about how the organisation perceives that managers are implementing the core values of the organisation.  If "Innovation" is one of the core values then 20/20 is a useful tool to use to see where there is need for improvement.
    You can use surveys to determine skill levels in creative tools, team creativity and a host of other applications.
    We can work with you to incorporate feedback into your team and individual development to ensure you get a greater return on your investment.
    To learn more about the power of 20/20 Insight Gold click on the image.
    20/20 Logo
    To talk with us about how you can use feedback to help improve your organisation, please
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    In May the theme of the newsletter will be "Emotional Intelligence".
    All the Best,
    Barry Signature
    Barry McMaster
    Matrix Vision Pty Limited