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HR Team and Creative Problem Solving

Posted by Sandra Di Rienzo Friday, June 26, 2009

On May 27th , the whole of HR division took part in a one day Introduction to Creative Problem Solving to learn some tools and techniques for increasing their creative thinking and to help them work more effectively as a team and with their 'client' departments .

Training sessions were facilitated by three 'real life' facilitators Tim Morley, Maggie Dugan and Khalid El Harizi from Policy Division and a 'virtual' facilitator, 'Big Brother' Andy Burnett who thanks to modern technology, interacted with the whole group sitting comfortably in front of a web-cam in Buffalo, New York at some unhearthly hour of the night.

Andy started off by putting creativity into an HR context, linking up to their work on appreciative enquiry and diversity. He also provided an overview of what it takes to build a creative team: the 4P’s model - people, process, product and press (environment).

Participants received the results of an on-line questionnaire using the Foursight tool which revealed their particular individual strengths in the ideation process and, grouping them together, it provided a profile for the whole HR team.

The FourSight Profile is an assessment tool designed
to boost critical and creative problem solving skills in individuals and groups by taking a look at exactly where they excel and then breaking this down into the four distinct phases of the breakthrough thinking process. Are you a Clarifier? An Ideator? A Developer? An Implementer? Some combination? The ability to understand and leverage your thinking style is important for successful team dynamics.

The group was introduced to the Creative Problem Solving process using the basic 4 stage problem solving model - clarify, ideate, develop, implement with a tool for each stage and they immediately put these into action using dozens of coloured post-its, flipcharts and coloured pens.

Interview with Liz Davis by Khalid El Harizi following the CPS training session

What did you like about the Introduction to Creative Problem Solving?

“I think the best thing was that when I walked away I thought that it was a fantastic use of my time and that’s a pretty high hurdle when we are all working as hard as we are and with as much as there is to do”

How useful do you find it to your work?

…our ordinary days sometimes suppress those things we know and we don’t always use them in the best way .. .. it also provided a space and a shared experience which is rare because often we meet in smaller teams, and in mixed teams but we don’t very often have whole team events .. .it wasn’t that the content did not matter, but that the shared experience probably came out as being the most important.”

Which part of the training did you find most interesting?

“ I love[d] the diagnostics tool because [it gives] you another window on the world and a window on yourself more importantly..

I was actually excited by the fact that we did some of the sessions using SKYPE … which again if you had asked me beforehand if I thought it would work, I would have said How can it possibly work! ..

I loved the exercise about building the bridge between inanimate objects (the forced connections), that just reminds me that you have to take risks sometimes because it’s the kind of exercise that if you write it in a learning programme people think that its terribly false or trite or whatever .. In fact, I went on to use it in the IMT meeting. I took the risk there to use the same exercise and actually it worked brilliantly. It was worth the risk.”

Do you see any potential benefits for IFAD from generalising the CPS training, not just an Introduction, to all staff?

“Absolutely … I can imagine how working in the field you could use those techniques without almost any materials, working with local people, farmers, farmers organizations, women’s groups.

I think anything we can do to build our broader understanding of the community of people who are IFAD, the better from a leadership and management point of view.”

Any other comments you would like to share with our social bloggers?

“What would I like to share with the social bloggers? ....The day before, I had mentally sent my apologies. I didn’t actively send them but I mentally sent them because the in-box was absolutely full and there were big and important deliverables from an HR reform perspective coming up against the wire …Social bloggers might like to know that on my wall I have a time line which is pressing me hard.

And then something made me think NO, that would be the easy thing to do, to turn up late, to leave in the middle, and it would have been completely the wrong thing to do. So I am just so pleased that I didn’t, even though 24 hours previously I checked out mentally, I checked back in and then not only checked in. It was great fun. I have not laughed so much in a very long time. I won’t tell the bloggers what we were laughing about because it may not be appropriate but it reminded me that laughter is good for your mental health and your performance as well. It was great.”

Thank you Liz