In 2000, BusinessWeek declared that our industrial economy
had switched to a creative economy - one in which ideas reign. Now
as our country faces tough economic times, what can we as trainers
do to encourage creativity within our organizations?
Trainers can be both initiators and a source of creativity. Instead
of simply focusing on job-related training, we can help people
develop more abstract skills and thinking - basically, train people
to become creative. Here are some tips:
Create ideation. The goal is to stimulate
individuals' cognitive processes to result in all sorts of ideas
that initially have no connection and may even be random. Then,
focus on evaluating the ideas to determine their viability or
potential. Don't limit your trainees, particularly during the
idea-generation phase. For instance, you might begin an exercise by
brainstorming solutions to an invented problem - preferably
something the participants do not have a vested interest in - then
move on to a force field analysis to evaluate the ideas' acceptance
and resistance forces.
Allow thinking about thinking. In your creative
training programs, develop and use exercises that encourage
trainees to think about how they think. Have them consider their
skills and why they have them, the strategies they employ and why
they use them, and what regulates their lives and why. Ask them,
too, to think about job processes and why they perform them the way
they do. This teaches individuals to monitor their thinking and to
turn a critical eye to their own inner workings. And, it can result
in "Aha!" moments.
Apply ideation and thinking to problem solving.
The abstract exercises above put people in a creative frame of
mind. To produce results, trainers can then apply the exercises to
a specific company problem. It is important to allow time for the
creative process - don't rush idea generation or the evaluation
process. With a real-world problem, something learners feel
strongly about, you may get a flood of ideas or be met with
reticence. Remind participants that while brainstorming, the aim is
quantity of ideas, not quality (that will happen during
evaluation), that no idea is bad, and that unusual or out-there
ideas are encouraged.
Keep up the good attitudes. As with all training
programs, the success of creativity training is linked to learners'
attitudes. Exercises that develop and change attitudes for the
better will ultimately produce better training results and work
climates. Help people develop ideas and think critically about how
they think and why can help identify deep reasons for attitudinal