There seems to be a bit of a backlash at the moment against “creative thinking” techniques. A raft of articles are appearing (including one in the recent edition of ILM’s magazine The Edge) with writers dismissing techniques such as brainstorming and de Bono’s 6 hats as, at best a waste of time and at worst actually limiting the generation of new ideas.
Coming into vogue instead is a move to more structured thinking to aid innovation.
I am sure people will be divided on this issue and as with so many things surely there is a place for both. We have used de Bono's 6 hats regularly in situations where we need to facilitate a different way of thinking, to shift mindsets that are stuck looking from only one angle (people are often stuck in the pessimistic black hat thinking; “this will never work” “if it ain’t broke...”). To leverage change , 6 hats is a powerful technique, so to dismiss it as “bizarre”, as one writer did, is unhelpful.
But actually isn’t the point for many people less about the way they spark creative thinking and more about not having the time to think? In this hectic world of constantly having to do more with less, we all get so caught up in the day to day operational side of what we all do, that time to think differently/creatively becomes a luxury rather than a necessity.
Isn’t part of it about valuing thinking time? As managers, do we give ourselves and our people permission to use time to think creatively? Do we value “thinking” as an activity as much as the “day job.”
The ways to stimulate that creativity are many and varied; being coached or mentored, brainstorming to share ideas in team meetings, logical frameworks to aid decision-making such as force field analysis and “wearing silly hats” to shift thought patterns... they all have their place... but none will have an impact if we do not endorse time to use them.
Stella Chandler and I founded Focal Point on a shared belief that a training course run in isolation doesn't work. We passionately believe there must be support both before and after the training or coaching session itself for it to make a difference. When I am not facilitating sessions with clients or looking at ways to grow the Focal Point business, you will find me in a calming yoga class...