Creativity in Conservative Org LO12888

Jim Yates (
Thu, 13 Mar 1997 18:54:26 -0500

Replying to LO12860 --

I can understand your difficulty, the "obvious" solution causes its own
problems and you don't feel confident that the organisation will respond
well to a more creative approach. But you've got to do something!

Perhaps a good place to start is with a reframe of the problem, since the
proposed solution causes difficulties. Some systems mapping might help you
be clearer about what you are trying to achieve - empty tanks, disposed
waste and money left to spend on useful things. Getting everyone's
perspective on the problem will also help.

It is worthwhile concentrating effort on examining what you really need to
achieve. I work for a company which designs and builds chemical plants and
I know how frustrated Engineers get when they are asked to implement
"obvious" solutions without being able to investigate the real problem.

I agree with Adam Condo that using a facilitator might help and appreciate
the pitfalls. In my experience however the only route in these cases is to
go for it.

You might also find some benefits by changing your perspective on the
problem from "emptying tanks" to "processing the waste" [can it be
processed in situ to something which is easier to remove] or "creating a
void". Similarly, thinking of the material as a resource might help - is
there anyone to whom it could be a resource - would they be prepared to
remove it for you. Down the line it might be worth considering whether the
process producing the waste could be modified to produce something easier
to handle or whether the down stream system can be modified to take the
waste in easier to handle lumps.

Perhaps you can get the team to dream up what an ideal solution would be
and then try to work backwards from that to something which is feasible -
double reversals can also be worth trying - how do we make things worse -
then reversing the ideas generated etc.

I know that introducing some of these creative ideas into conservative
organisations can be risky - but I've found with Engineers at least that
if you show that the techniques work, then they are willing to try them
and success breeds success. They just need to be convinced that it is OK
to play and have whacky ideas.

A bit of a ramble but I hope it helps.

Jim Yates
Ventron Technology Limited

It is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission - G Pichot III

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