Catalysts of Creativity: Transformative Strategies Propelling You from Good to Great


“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Creating Brilliance: Unlocking Greatness Through the Power of Fresh Perspectives

So, you’ve got a good team—dedicated, hardworking, and innovative. But you’re aiming for greatness. You want that creative spark to turn into a full-blown inferno. You’re seeking the secret ingredient to take you from good to extraordinary.  The Wall Street Journal article, To Spur Team Creativity, Replace a Regular With an Outsider that secret may be as simple as inviting an unexpected guest sparking a creative fiesta.

Unearthing Diamonds: The Unconventional Maverick

Let’s imagine your team is a finely tuned orchestra, each instrument playing its part to create a harmonious melody. Now, suppose you bring in a jazz saxophonist to your classical symphony. It’s out there. But the unique rhythm and raw improvisation that the saxophonist introduces can completely transform your orchestra’s sound, creating a rich, vibrant symphony that’s truly unforgettable. That’s the exciting, transformative potential an outsider brings to your team.

This isn’t a novel concept. It dates back to the time of the Medicis in Renaissance Italy. This influential family knew that when diverse minds—scientists, artists, philosophers, all under one roof—collide, they create a kaleidoscope of groundbreaking ideas. Your team can tap into That magic of the Medici effect.

From Good to Great: Ingenious Strategies for a Fresh Perspective

How do you go from good things are peachy to GREAT we’re rockin and rollin like the best jazz bands in a world? Here are some ingenious ideas to help you:

  1. Cross-Pollination with Different Industries: Imagine what could happen when your team brainstorms with folks from a different sector. It’s like creating a fusion cuisine that surprises and delights. Remember the delicious blend of tech and fitness when Apple and Nike collaborated? We got the brilliant Nike+ product line!
  2. The AI Ace: AI tools, like OpenAI’s GPT-4, can be your secret weapon to unleash a storm of innovative ideas, helping you push the boundaries of what’s possible.
  3. Global Immersion: Send your team members on an adventure to explore different cultures, similar to Adobe’s international sabbaticals. The diverse insights they return with can be the secret to your team’s creativity.
  4. Innovation Showdowns: Throw open a challenge to outsiders to develop innovative ideas. GE’s Ecomagination Challenge did just this, resulting in a treasure trove of ideas on renewable energy.
  5. Crowdsourcing Creativity: Leverage the crowd’s power to generate many ideas. Online platforms like our PBG Innovation Labs, IdeaScale pr Innocentive platforms can help you source a universe of ideas from a world of thinkers.

Creative Sparks: Exercises to Ignite Brilliance

While bringing in fresh perspectives, it’s equally important to stoke the internal creative fires. Here are a few fun exercises that can help:

  1. Rapid Ideation: Set a timer and get your team to write down as many ideas as possible on a topic. The aim is to think quickly and wildly, making way for some unexpected gems of ideas.
  2. Storyboarding: This technique borrowed from filmmakers can help your team visualize a process or product development, opening up new avenues for innovation.
  3. Yes, And…: Borrowed from improv comedy, this exercise involves building on a teammate’s idea with an attitude of acceptance and expansion, creating an environment that encourages creative risk-taking.
  4. The 30 Circles Test: Give your team a sheet of paper with 30 identical circles and challenge them to transform as many circles as possible into different objects within a set time. This exercise is an excellent exercise for enhancing flexibility and diversity in thinking.
  5. The Six Thinking Hats: A strategy developed by Edward de Bono, this exercise requires team members to ‘wear’ different ‘hats’ representing various thinking styles – factual, emotional, and creative. Six Thinking Hats promotes diversity of thought and holistic problem-solving.

Igniting Greatness: Creative Exercises and Wisdom from ‘Thinkertoys’

One of my favorite go to creative resources is the book, Thinkertoys, as I reference in the article The Phoenix Checklist, there are many great exercises in the book. I note a few below.

False Faces: Based on a technique from Michael Michalko’s ‘Thinkertoys,’ this exercise encourages reversing your perspective to spark innovation. For example, if you think a particular solution won’t work, switch your mindset to consider how it could work. The shift in perspective often uncovers unexpected paths.

  1. Hall of Fame: Inspired by another Thinkertoy, this exercise has you pondering what a famous individual would do if faced with your problem. Posing Albert Einstein or Amelia Earhart can lead to innovative solutions that you might not have thought of in your shoes.
  2. Circle of Opportunity: This ‘Thinkertoy’ involves identifying trends relevant to your project or problem. Then, pick two randomly and try to create opportunities at their intersection. This exercise can often result in novel ideas or approaches.
  3. The Three B’s: Another recommendation from ‘Thinkertoys,’ the Three B’s stand for Bath, Bed, and Bus. Our best ideas often come to us during quiet times or when our mind is relaxed. Incorporate downtime into your brainstorming process to allow ideas to flow naturally.

Now, let’s sprinkle in some wisdom from ‘Thinkertoys’:

  • “Everyone can create if given the opportunity and the right methods” – Let this be your team’s mantra. Creativity isn’t the domain of a select few—it’s a muscle everyone has and can be trained with the right exercises.
  • “All the good ideas have not been thought of yet” – Just when you think you’re out of ideas, remember this. Innovation is boundless space, and there’s always room for another groundbreaking idea.
  • “Separate fact from fiction, and you will discover your unique way of thinking” – Encourage your team to challenge assumptions and look at the facts constantly. This will help them forge their unique problem-solving approach.

Embracing this wisdom from ‘Thinkertoys,’ along with the exercises and strategies mentioned above, can empower your team to move from good to great. Remember, diversity of thought and ideas is the wind beneath your creative wings—let it carry you to unexplored heights of innovation. Keep striving, innovate, and let the fireworks of creativity illuminate your path to greatness.

Reaping the Rich Harvest of Outsider Influence

Welcoming an outsider to your team is akin to introducing a new species into an ecosystem. It stirs things up, leads to some unexpected interactions, and eventually, often creates a more dynamic, resilient system.

Explaining the team’s ways to an outsider forces everyone to take a step back, reevaluate, and articulate their perspectives more clearly. And in that process, you’re likely to uncover some unexplored trails, some exciting possibilities that were right there, waiting to be discovered.

Also, the outsider’s fresh approach to solving problems is contagious. Before you know it, your team members are trying on different hats, looking at challenges from new angles, and coming up with solutions that are as out-of-the-box as they are effective.

Going from Good to Great: The Creative Way

So, the Wall Street wisdom stands true—adding an outsider to your team can be the secret ingredient to take you from good to great. By inviting fresh perspectives and stimulating internal creativity through clever strategies and exercises, you’re not just kindling the creative spark but fueling a brilliant blaze of innovation.

Remember, diversity of thought and ideas isn’t just a good-to-have—it’s the golden key that unlocks greatness. By embracing diversity, we ensure that our team doesn’t settle for the ordinary but constantly reaches for the extraordinary. So let’s keep striving for the stars and make the journey from good to great creatively fulfilling. Get ready to embrace brilliance, and let the creative fireworks begin!


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