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User Guidelines for the Creative Quartets Tool

square-50cm-spacer.jpg Creative Quartets Diagram

ORGANIZER Guidelines
  1. If necessary, start by reading more about Creative Quartets
  2. Consider having broad theme/s
    • Consider whether (and how many) shared themes you need
    • Restricting the creative process can be productive
    • It may be auspicious to choose 4 related sub-headings to a main theme
    • To save time, if appropriate, these could be agreed before the day of the workshop
    • This might reflect shared concerns, or personal interests...
    • Consider framing a theme in the form of an answer-seeking question
  3. Size and layout of the room/s may be critical
    • A (square?) room that allows 2 simultaneous meetings to create a balance of clarity/good order and fun/playfulness
    • Acoustics that allows 2 simultaneous meetings without interfering with one another unhelpfully
  4. Consider doing an initial 'speed-dating' session with everyone (including organisers) to break the ice...
    • Explain that this is not a management method or a problem-solving workshop but
    • A: an opportunity-finding workshop
    • B: an asset-location workshop
  5. Consider explaining that team diversities are crucially important for creative outcomes
  6. If the the participants show contrasts in status, try the levelling tool
    • Consider telling them about differences between top-down and bottom-up languaging
    • Consider discussing the implications of hierarchies or status differences among the quartet players (A-D)
    • Consider training them to see themselves as a holarchy
  7. If the team seems confident enough:
  8. If anyone is curious about why we have a quartet:
  9. If a particular team member is poisoning the creative atmosphere, or remains negative in language/attitude:
  10. Start: assemble a medium-sized group of participants
    • Optimum size: Don't exceed the Dunbar number (150 max) to retain knowledge as a creative community.
  11. Assemble everyone and pre-prepare cards that invite them to write down:
    • One problem (e.g. of shared, focal concern OR representing a personal interest).
    • One potentially useful asset, virtue or resource (may, or may not relate to A, depending on purpose of workshop)
      • (Consider whether you need additional categories - e.g. neither a problem, nor a benefit).
    • N.B. the whole process of recording these answers could be conducted before the workshop (e.g. online).
  12. The answers are edited by the organisers and converted into handy-sized cards.
    • Texts on the cards should not be totally homogenised, however...
    • Issues described should (normally) be simplified
    • (this is to reduce the time needed for consensual interpretation by workshop participants)
    • Any sign or indication of whether a given card denotes a problem or solution etc. would (normally) be removed
  13. Normally, quartet members only meet in duets
    • in 10 minute sessions.
    • i.e. a sequence of 3 (simultaneous) double meetings enabling each participant to meet each other.
  14. Duet members take a card
    • 'Duet' meetings begin with each participant taking a card from the top of the shuffled pile.
  15. Duet members imagine what might emerge from the combination of items on the two cards
  16. Observers keep detailed notes of what they hear and see
  17. Recruit for the four Quartet roles
  18. Optimum mix: Combinatorial difference is important for creativity, so the group should be heterogenous
    • i.e. so consider including both experts and non-experts
    • i.e. consider including a range of ages
    • i.e. consider representing different types of expertise
    • i.e. Participant A, Participant B, Participant C and Participant D
  1. Participant A Purple Lady square-50cm-spacer.jpg Normally chosen as one of 4 contrasting/complementary expert/problem holders
  2. Participant B Turquoise Man square-50cm-spacer.jpg Normally chosen as one of 4 contrasting/complementary expert/problem holders
  3. Participant C Green Man square-50cm-spacer.jpg Normally chosen as one of 4 contrasting/complementary expert/problem holders
  4. Participant D Brown Lady square-50cm-spacer.jpg Normally chosen as one of 4 contrasting/complementary expert/problem holders
  5. First Duet Dialogue Monitor Discussion Icon square-50cm-spacer.jpg makes timed notes from the dialogue
  6. First Duet Body Language Monitor Body Language Icon square-50cm-spacer.jpg makes timed notes for emotions & body language
  7. Second Duet Dialogue Monitor Discussion Icon square-50cm-spacer.jpg makes timed notes from the dialogue
  8. Second Duet Body Language Monitor Body Language Icon square-50cm-spacer.jpg makes timed notes for emotions & body language
  9. Discrepancy monitor Observer Eye square-50cm-spacer.jpg looks for any lack of openness/balance in monitoring or facilitation
  10. Rapporteur Leadership Conductor Noun Project.svg square-50cm-spacer.jpg maintains flow among the 10 team members. and technical operators
PARTICIPANT Guidelines
  1. At this stage, quantity is more valuable than quality
    • The essential aim of this workshop is to create MORE opportunities than we can currently see.
    • This means generating as many ideas as possible (not the highest quality of ideas).
    • When we have an idea we may not be able to see its potential value until much later.
    • For most of us, this may mean switching off our 'quality control' filters when we think of something.
  2. Balance speaking with listening
    • Please accept that, within the workshop, you no less important and creative as the person with whom you are currently working
    • It follows that your partner has a duty of respect to you - i.e. he/she should give you a fair chance to speak.
    • It follows that your partner needs to listen to what you say in a spirit of openness.
  3. Balance listening with speaking
    • Please accept that, within the workshop, you are no more important and creative as the person with whom you are currently working
    • It follows that you have a duty of respect to partner - i.e. you should give him/her a fair chance to speak.
    • It follows that you need to listen to what he/she says in a spirit of openness.
    • If required, the Shared Values Tool may be helpful...
  4. Allow others to say things you disagree with or may not wish to hear
    • Accept that you have biases, experiences and prejudices that you may not be able to see.
    • Accept that this blind spot will have limited your ability to see things that others can see.
  5. Be radically optimistic
    • Ideally, workshop participants must leave their analytical and critical faculties at the door.
    • There is no place for sharing thoughts that are pessimistic, cautious, sceptical, sarcastic, cynical or negative.
    • Try to be radically optimistic, even if a given idea seems unlikely to be useful.
    • For some, this may be exceedingly hard, especially if they have worked in industry for some time, or have been educated to believe in rational analysis, rigorous logic and robust debate.
  6. Be creatively fearless
    • If you believe that something is impossible you may not bother to spend time on it.
    • Our Designing Miracles tool challenges misconceptions about 'unthinkability' and 'impossibility'.
    • The fear that others may say you are crazy or wrong is an effective barrier to innovation.
    • Remember that today's world is full of amazing things that may have seemed impossible, yesterday.
    • for those who feel insecure about their ability to be 'creative' see 4 levels of courage .
    • A familiar tool used in the commercial world is SWOT analysis
    • 50% of the 4 terms (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) are meant to instil some (healthy) fear.
    • But fear is likely to diminish a team's creative abilities.
    • We therefore devised the POUT tool
  7. Avoid using words like 'but' or 'however'
    • Critical observations/negative comments may be useful, but not for this workshop.
    • In previous research meetings we actually banned the word 'but' (which sometimes caused laughter).
    • In creative collaboration, it is likely to slow down or halt the intensive processes of discovery.
    • It moves the conversation from a search for ideas and begins, prematurely, to evaluate their usefulness.
    • It opens a succession of questions that may overshadow or delay the discovery of new possibilities.
  8. Turn negative thoughts into new opportunities
    • Where you encounter criticism, or observations
    • If your partner makes a negative statement or comment, don't confront it (this becomes a debate).
    • Ask him or her what they are proposing
    • and/or - get them to convert their idea into a positive vision
    • and/or - turn their comment into a task
    • and/or - log it as a useful mission.
    • and/or - frame it as an opportunity-finding question (e.g. "how can...X be achieved?)
    • N.B. - you are more likely to find opportunities by framing outcome-seeking questions than from asking answer-seeking questions.

SOME BACKGROUND SOURCES

  1. Joseph Schumpeter (1833-1950) drew attention to the economic importance of entrepreneurial innovation
    (although he believed that the culture of innovation fostered creative destruction (by damaging established synergies)
  2. In the 21st century, capitalism is openly welcomes innovation...so 'creativity' has become sexy
  3. In the last fifty years, pundits (e.g. Koestler, de Bono, Buzan) popularised ideas of 'bisociation' and 'lateral thinking'
  4. This trend derives from a backlash (Romanticism) to the Enlightenment's emphasis on rational 'truth'
  5. Hence, Charles Peirce's (1867) idea of abductive reasoning may remind us that (Greek/Roman) logic only worked 'forwards'
  6. Instead of the western tendency to see logic only as a summative, truth-validating method, it could also be used for innovation
  7. Gregory Bateson (1979) corroborated Peirce's notion that abduction is extant in Nature
  8. JW (2005) asked whether the potential of abductive reasoning might, ultimately, be to design miracles
  9. Nassim Taleb (2007) validated the scale of thinking idea by reminding sceptics that highly improbable events do cause cataclysmic change
  10. Rupert Sheldrake's (1981) 'morphogenetic fields' theory had also addressed the issue of improbability says that unprecedented incidents may act as 'feedback' to precipitate (massive) change in the ecological status quo
  11. JW suggested that designers/inventors would need a tool to move us (conceptually) beyond the assumed limits of singular invention. This is inspired by Bohm's (1983) descriptions of quantum physics that reminds us there are no actual boundaries between thoughts and actions
  12. JW (2008) incorporated this idea in his essays on (e.g. Auspicious Reasoning)
  13. JW unsuccessfully tried to formulate a practical version before a visit to the Arcola Theatre consultation workshop (now renovated) in November 2007.

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