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Posted By: Rosemary

In this spotlight series with Innovation Minds, we connect with Dr Amy Climer of Climer Consulting about how to Kick-Off the New Year with Deliberate Team Creativity.

It was a pleasure to catch up with my Creativity Colleague, Dr Amy Climer, who use to be an Outward Bound Instructor to delve into the essential elements of Team Creativity and the Nature of Inspiration. Amy works with corporate, government and non-profit teams who are seeking to be more creative.

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The Big 3 of Deliberate, Creative Teams:

Dr Climer’s Research on the Development of the Creative Synergy Scale in 2016 points to the necessity of 3 essential elements for teams to be creative:

1) A clear team purpose. While it may seem obvious, it is no surprise at how often teams have not actually talked about their purpose. Ask the question “What is our Team’s Purpose?” and if you get different responses from different team members then you have some work to do to bring everyone into alignment.

2) Strong team dynamics. (Trust, Communication and Conflict). Amy Climer notes that this dynamic also consists of some healthy creative abrasion, where team members disagree around the work they are doing but don’t disagree due to personality or identity.

3) Know and use a Creative Process. Team members need to know and use a creative process that separates divergent and convergent thinking so that the best and most workable ideas see the light of day and execution.  Much of Amy’s work includes teaching these learned creative processes to teams including Creative Problem Solving or CPS and Design Thinking so that teams have a framework for practicing Deliberate Creativity. The Team at Innovation Minds integrates both CPS and Design thinking in a Thons Framework to ignite creativity and innovation with teams through both in-person and virtual events.

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Regardless of the process, technique or event, the key and consensus are that teams develop creativity skills through practice.

100 ideas in 35 minutes..Is it possible?

No breaking a sweat and there are tools for your team to get there: The Climer Consulting Group brings a toolkit of creative techniques including her own developed Climer Cards, which prompts metaphorical thinking and deeper conversations.You can also view Amy’s Ted Talk on Team Creativity

Where Does Organizational Creativity Go Astray?

1)Top Down VS Bottoms Up:

Quite simply innovation goes sideways when ideas begin from the top-down versus the bottom up. Amy notes that leaders often say they want to engage all stakeholders, but frequently arrive at the party such as a team ideathon, with a pre-determined perspective of the right answer or solution. This may decrease trust and causes frustration if team members feel their time was wasted or they were deceived about the purpose of the event. We at Innovation Minds, reinforce that solid innovation begins with top down strategic objectives but with generation of bottoms up ideas.

The truth is Leadership of Creative Teams requires comfort with Ambiguity and not having the right answer.

2)We Aren’t Taught Creativity

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You won’t often find creativity as a course in elementary, middle, high school or college. However, creativity is a teachable, learnable skill. Like with most things, with practice you and your team can be more creative.

However, the sad reality is reflected in the chart above. As we age, creativity plummets. (1968, George Land with Beth Jarman research study to test the creativity of 1,600 children ranging in ages from three-to-five years old who were enrolled in a Head Start program.) This was the same creativity test Land devised for NASA to help select innovative engineers and scientists. The test was to look at a problem and come up with new, different, innovative ideas.

Amy is passionate about Teaching Deliberate Creativity as early and as often as we can and dispelling the myth of sudden inspiration. Yes, Sir Isaac Newton had a spark of metaphorical thinking with the famous apple about gravity, but it was not without a lot of heavy mental lifting before that.

3) Avoiding Naysayers

Amy warns that while creativity often encourages “Deferring Judgement”, it does not mean there isn’t space and place in the creative process for convergent, critical thinking. She also notes to listen carefully to naysayers, who often have a value-added point of view. It is the naysayers who can become your idea’s greatest advocate once barriers are removed.

4)Recognize and Embrace Technology

Listening to a talk from a medical futurist, Dr Rubin Pillay from the University of Alabama Birmingham, Amy recalls hearing that for a medical specialist to be up on their field, they would need to read a whopping 40,000 journal articles a year.

Data and Artificial Intelligence will represent great accelerators of the learning and innovative process.

Innovation Minds includes the use of AI-powered by IBM Watson in our State of Art Innovation Platform.

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Guess Whose Coming to Dinner

One final question we ask our guests in this series on Innovators is who would they invite to a Jeffersonian Dinner.

Amy Climer includes both personal and leadership contemporaries on her guest list. (Michelle Obama, Brene Brown, Creativity Researcher, Dean Simonton, Dr Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Dolly Parton, Thomas Edison, Harriet Tubman, a few teenagers, close friends and her wife.) It’s a dinner party certain to have sparks of inspiration and unique perspectives on 2020 and beyond. Are you an organizational leader, an innovator and thought leader based in Silicon Valley? Innovation Minds is hosting a Jeffersonian Dinner on April 16th, 2020 focused on creating a culture of innovation.

We thank Dr. Amy Climer for sharing her expertise. For more information about bringing deliberate creativity to your team visit Climer