How can we turn our imaginations into productive creativity? In my post Imagination, Creativity and Productivity I mentioned a long list of creative theorists who each have developed their own methodology for helping individuals and teams transform their imaginations into productive creativity. This post will begin a series of posts, over the next few months, exploring the most prominent from the list and explaining their theories in greater detail.
Dr. Min Basadur
Dr. Min Basadur is Professor Emeritus of Innovation in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He is also the founder of Basadur Applied Creativity. Dr. Basadur has helped numerous industry leaders, including Procter & Gamble, Frito-Lay, PepsiCo, Goodrich and Pfizer, build their creative thinking, innovation and problem solving capabilities over the last 20 years.
Dr. Basadur developed both an individual creative problem solving methodology known as the Basadur Creative Problem Solving Profile (CPSP) as well as an 8 step innovation process known as the Basadur Simplex Process.
Basadur Individual Creative Problem Solving Profile (CPSP).
Basadur designed the CPSP tool to help an individual understand how they approach problem solving to enable them to work better together inside a team or organization. Basadur designed this tool using established cognitive constructs from models of intelligence and educational psychology, including Guilford’s ( 1967) Structure of Intellect (SOI) and Sternberg’s (1996) Triarchic Intelligence.
CPSP measures an individual’s problem solving preferences through four defined problem solving stages. These stages include:
Creates options in the form of new possibilities or new problems that might be solved and new opportunities that might be capitalized on.
Creates options in the form of alternate ways to understand and define a problem or opportunity, and good ideas that help solve it.
Creates options in the form of ways to get an idea to work in practice and uncovering all of the factors that go into a successful implementation plan.
Creates options in the form of actions that get results and gain acceptance for implementing a change or a new idea.
The CPSP tool allows individuals to see their preferences for problem solving as a process which includes imagination and analysis. The CPSP is not a personality profile. It demonstrates preferred cognitive states not traits.
I took Basadur’s CPSP profile and my scores, out of 120 questions, showed a slight preference as a Generator (36/120). My scores as a Conceptualizer (29), Optimizier (28) and Implementer (27) were pretty equal and not far behind. If you would like to find out your own scores, here is the link to Basadur’s CPSP. It will run you $15.00 US dollars to get them and take about 10 minutes.
The Simplex Process
Popularized in Min’s book, The Power of Innovation The Simplexity System is a method of applied creativity that interconnects creative problem solving with skills and tools to make that process work. The Simplex Process in an 8 stage process.
Step 1: Problem Finding literally consists of finding or anticipating problems and opportunities. The result is a continuous flow of new, present and future problems to solve, changes to deal with and capitalize on, and opportunities for improvement for the organization.
Step 2: Fact Finding consists of deferring convergence and actively gathering information potentially related to a fuzzy situation, and then evaluating and selecting those facts most likely to be helpful in developing a set of fruitful, advantageous problem definitions in the next step.
Step 3: Problem Definition consists of first using divergence to convert the key facts the group selected into a wide variety of creative “how might we?” challenges, and then selecting one (or a few) which seem most advantageous to solve. This step is about making sure the group is asking the right questions and that it comes up with the best definitions of the problem.
Step 4: Idea Finding consists of deferring convergence while actively creating large number of potential solutions to the target problem definitions, and then converging smaller number of potentially good solutions for evaluation.
Step 5: Evaluation and Selection consists of open-mindedly generating a wide variety of criteria potentially useful for making an unbiased and accurate evaluation of the potential solutions, and then selecting and applying the most significant criteria to decide which possible solutions are the best to take forward towards implementation.
This stage recognizes that problem solving does not end with the development of a good solution. Unless the solution is skilfully prepared for implementation, and it implementation skilfully executed, the problem solving will not have been successful. How to gain support for risking change, how to build commitment to plunge into unknown waters, how to tailor a solution for adaptation to specific circumstance, and how to follow-up to ensure permanent installation of the new change, is a significant, creative venture of its own.
Step 6: Action Planning involves thinking up specific action steps which will lead to a successful installation of the new solution.
Step 7: Gaining Acceptance recognizes that the best laid plans can be scuttled by resistance to the new changes involved. This step looks at the ways ownership in the solution can be generated, people can be shown that the solution benefits them, and potential problems caused by the solution can be minimized.
Step 8: Action Taking action recognizes that the actual doing of an action step is an integral part of the decision making and problem solving process, and not to be taken for granted. No matter how carefully thought out the specific steps in a plan of action, it still remains to do the steps. This step recognizes the need to “get on with it” and learn from taking action.
Basadur’s approach illuminates the interconnectedness between one’s skills, problem solving preferences and the process we use to transform imagination into creative productivty.