Thinking Outside the Bag
Group Breakthrough Thinking Exercises
In our fast paced work lives, we rarely take the time to use our creative, right brain thinking capacity in facing challenges. Instead, we are often forced into a linear, logical, left brain orientation to problem solving. In addition, too often we spend all of our time focusing on solving problems, rather than on building on our strengths. Finally, we are often faced with solving problems alone, rather than utilizing the power and creativity of group thinking.
A recent study by Teresa Amabile, who heads the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School, found that “The most creative teams are those that have the confidence to share and debate ideas. But when people compete for recognition, they stop sharing information. And that's destructive because nobody in an organization has all of the information required to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.” Amabile’s study also challenged the common myth that only certain people are creative. She found that “anyone with normal intelligence is capable of doing some degree of creative work,” and that “Creativity depends on a number of things: experience, including knowledge and technical skills; talent; an ability to think in new ways; and the capacity to push through uncreative dry spells.”
This training activity uses a creative, group thinking approach in dealing with challenges in the workplace. Participants will learn how to focus on their creative strengths, rather than on obstacles and barriers, in facing work challenges. They will also learn how the use of random objects (as well as drawings, music, movement, etc.) can help to utilize right-brain thinking and stimulate creative solutions.
By the end of this activity, participants will:
- Identify and discuss a personal success story of creative thinking
- Practice group brainstorming and prioritizing skills
- Identify a group challenge for further discussion
- Engage in a creative thinking exercise using random objects
- Discuss applications of this exercise to the workplace
Suggested Time: 2 Hours
- Chart paper & easel
- Marking pens
- Paper and pens for participants
- Adhesive dots (one color: 3 per participant, and a second contrasting color: one per participant)
- Large paper bag (“Grab Bag”)
- Assorted collected objects from around the home, office, or outdoors (Enough for each participant to have one object) placed in the paper bag
- Music (Optional)
I. INDIVIDUAL EXERCISE (10 Min.)
Ask the participants to take a few minutes to individually write down their answers to the following questions:
1. Think of a time when you were at your most creative. Describe the situation, and why you feel it was creative. How did it affect you?
2. What resources (from yourself or others) helped you to be creative?
3. What obstacles did you face in achieving that creative moment, and how did you overcome them so that you could succeed?
4. What did you learn from this experience that can help you face future challenges creatively?
5. What is a current challenge that you are facing in your work that you would like to resolve more creatively?