Inventium - Creativity and Innovation

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HBack in 2006, Inventium’s founder, Dr Amantha Imber was working as a consumer psychologist in a big advertising agency. The agency had put her through a lot of creative thinking training which she loved. However, when she started getting deeper into researching the field, she realised that all these training companies had done was rip off Edward de Bono techniques from the 70s and re-package them as their own. She thought that, ironically, this was pretty uncreative.

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Inventium - Creativity and Innovation

  1. 1. p. +61 3 9018 7455 f. +61 3 9528 4787 m. +61 (0) 412 6565 38 e. info@inventium .com .au PO Box 1251, Brighton Rd LPO, Elwood, VIC, Australia 3184 Inventium http://www.inventium.com.au/Back in 2006, Inventium’s founder, Dr Amantha Imber was working as aconsumer psychologist in a big advertising agency. The agency had puther through a lot of creative thinking training which she loved.However, when she started getting deeper into researching the field,she realised that all these training companies had done was rip offEdward de Bono techniques from the 70s and re-package them as theirown. She thought that, ironically, this was pretty uncreative.
  2. 2. p. +61 3 9018 7455 f. +61 3 9528 4787 m. +61 (0) 412 6565 38 e. info@inventium .com .au PO Box 1251, Brighton Rd LPO, Elwood, VIC, Australia 3184Amantha had always been a bit of a science geek and kept reading thejargon-filled academic journals long after leaving university. She noticedthat there were hundreds, if not thousands, of studies being conductedaround the world that looked at what variables increased a person’sability to think more creatively and a company’s ability to innovate.However, she realised that there was a great divide between this greatresearch that was being done in the world of academia, and what wasactually getting used in the ‘real world’.So in 2007, she had the idea of starting a company that applied thescience of psychology and neurology to boosting creativity andinnovation - something that had never been done before. SinceInventium opened its doors, Amantha and her team, have helpedliterally thousands of people across Australia, the United States, the UK,Europe, Africa and New Zealand improve their ability to generate greatideas.
  3. 3. p. +61 3 9018 7455 f. +61 3 9528 4787 m. +61 (0) 412 6565 38 e. info@inventium .com .au PO Box 1251, Brighton Rd LPO, Elwood, VIC, Australia 3184 Second of all, give people a sense ofFive ways to inspire progress. Research employee motivationinnovation and engagement and learn how these impact on innovation and performance. AOk, so you have identified the need to recent study revealed that the majority ofinnovate within your business or managers wrongly believe recognition fororganisation, but where on earth do you good work (either public or private) to bestart? Or perhaps you already have started, the most important factor. However, thebut you have hit a plateau and need to most important factor was revealed to beramp things up again? Whatever the case, progress. The study revealed that makinghere are five simple ways you can inspire progress was most frequently associatedyour team – and yourself – to innovate. with high motivation, positive emotions and innovation, more so than any otherFirst of all, make it challenging. No one ever workday event. Managers should thereforecame up with a great idea from being given ensure that they are provide goals thata really simple task. Easy and enable progress to be made andstraightforward tasks do not breed acknowledged. As individuals, we shouldcreativity. Likewise, when people are also set ourselves small goals that we canstressed and tearing their hair out, it is not work and progress towards.likely to will come up with any great ideas.Make sure that both you and your team feel Thirdly, provide autonomy. As a manager, itsignificantly challenged by the problems is incredibly tempting to tell people how toand projects you are working on. When get from A to B, however, this temptationhumans feel challenged they naturally like must be resisted as it completely killsto solve these challenges, and when an easy innovation. If you simply tell people how toanswer does not immediately present itself, solve problems, they will lack thethat is our moment for our creativity to motivation to come up with better solutionsshine. themselves. Instead, ensure people are
  4. 4. p. +61 3 9018 7455 f. +61 3 9528 4787 m. +61 (0) 412 6565 38 e. info@inventium .com .au PO Box 1251, Brighton Rd LPO, Elwood, VIC, Australia 3184clear on the problem that has to be solved, innovation. Asking people to submit any oldand give them the room to explore how idea into a suggestion box will result in athey can get from A to B. When people have stack of ideas that are completely offautonomy and flexibility, they come up with strategy. To ensure time spent onsignificantly more innovative solutions. innovation and idea generation is as productive and efficient as possible, makeFourth, you must encourage assumption sure you spend time defining the keycrushing. Think about whenever you are problems and opportunities that you wantfaced with a problem to solve, there is your team to innovate around. This meansalways a bunch of assumptions sitting in the that the ideas you receive will complementback of your head. These relate to things the overall business strategy.you automatically assume to be true aboutthe problem, however, the bad thing aboutthese assumptions is that they effectively How to overcomeput up a fence in our brain that limitsthinking from moving beyond that point. “Team-think”Inspire people to come up with more Most of us have been a victim of groupthinkinnovative solutions to problems by at some stage in our working lives. If youidentifying and then crushing the have been sitting with the same team forassumptions they have by asking the past year, you’ve probably also becomethemselves, “What if the opposite was a victim of ‘team-think’.true?” By asking this question of everyassumption they make, they will get to This happens a lot in companies that dealsome very inventive solutions. with similar problems for their various clients. I work with several advertising andFinally, provide clear problems and media agencies and often the key issue foropportunities for people to solve. This many of their clients is generatingmight sound a bit obvious, but few awareness for their products. When theorganisations do this well in regards to
  5. 5. p. +61 3 9018 7455 f. +61 3 9528 4787 m. +61 (0) 412 6565 38 e. info@inventium .com .au PO Box 1251, Brighton Rd LPO, Elwood, VIC, Australia 3184agency tries to generate ideas on how to do one workshop for a national postal servicesthis, the strategies tend to revolve around organisation, we had the artistic director ofthe same few media channels, such as TV, a circus troupe, a creative director from anprint and outdoor campaigns, or creating a advertising agency, an 18-year-oldviral video and posting it on YouTube. university student and a TV host. Needless to say, the ideas generated in the workshopResearch suggests that teams which have were wonderfully varied.been together for a while develop a set ofentrenched assumptions, ways of doing So, rather than try to think creatively onthings and set patterns of behaviour. The your own, try to partner up with someonegood news is there is a cure: introducing a you don’t normally work with. Use them asnew member to the team. Studies show a springboard for fleshing out your ideasthat when a new member joins a team, and let them go in directions you wouldn’texisting assumptions, attitudes and if you were working on your own. Mostbehaviours are far less likely to be importantly, listen to their input and beactivated. The new person triggers new open to going in directions you would notthoughts and behaviours. normally.While it can be tempting to leaveharmonious teams alone, rotating Creativity lovesemployees around to different teamsregularly, say every 6–8 months, can boundariesconsiderably enhance creativity. Letting your mind wander wherever itWhen I run idea-generation sessions for needs to, starting with a blank canvas andclients, I almost always insist they invite being free of rules are all consideredpeople who do not work for their company. conducive to creativity. However, the latestI encourage them to include as diverse a psychological research has shown themix of people as possible. For example, in complete opposite.
  6. 6. p. +61 3 9018 7455 f. +61 3 9528 4787 m. +61 (0) 412 6565 38 e. info@inventium .com .au PO Box 1251, Brighton Rd LPO, Elwood, VIC, Australia 3184In one study, a group of adults was asked to to complete, our brains switch intomake a construction using Lego. One group autopilot if it is a familiar problem.was given no constraints; they were told However, this autopilot mode dramaticallythat they could build whatever they liked. impairs performance when we have to thinkThe other group had several constraints of completely novel ideas. Constraining theplaced upon them; they were told that their way we think forces us to search for newconstruction must contain no right-angled and creative ways of completing the task orjoints and they could only use one kind of solving the problem. In a paradoxical way,brick. putting constraints on our tasks lifts theThe constructions built by the ‘constraints’ constraints on our thought processing.group were judged to be significantly more Here are a couple of tips to help apply thesecreative and lateral than those in the ‘free findings:expression’ group. - Try to avoid taking on tasks that areSo why does this happen? When completing open-ended and overly broad. If you findtasks, we typically draw on what we know yourself in this situation, challenge yourselfrather than seeking new ideas and opinions. to apply a constraint to the task to makeOften, information retrieval becomes yourself perform more creatively.automated in our brains because it is useful - Whenever you feel yourself going intoand saves us having to come up with new autopilot, ask your boss to apply asolutions every time we face a problem. In constraint to the task (or do it yourself).other words, when we are assigned a task

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