I have just attended to a meeting regarding one project of my running program. This kind of meeting is called « Project Meeting ». Initiated by the project manager, it aims to discuss with the program manager and other selected stakeholders some important facts about the projects before the official Project Review. It aims to deal with important issues and collect options from important sponsors beforehand.
Really often the project team uses those meetings to announce:
- a budget exceeding,
- a delay
What I realize today is that in most of the meeting I have participated to, the project team forgive to bring important information that are keys to their counterparts: a plan.
Explaining that budget is going wild, planning is dead and gold-plated deliverables are everywhere is in a sense not really interesting to take decision about the project. What the project team should focus on are its strategy to take the project on track according to the available options:
- Budget should remain unchanged
- Planning should remain unchanged
- Scope should remain unchanged
According to those 3 different strategy the team should provide scenarii to their stakeholders in order to have clear direction.
What is the plan to keep the budget unchanged while our scope is booming or delay is out of control?
What are the consequences if we keep the original planning (i.e. deliverables dates) regarding to the scope (descoping) or budget?
When experiencing troubles on projects, project teams should of course understand the reasons and act to stop the deviation but also work on alternative and scenarii about the future of its project. If not, the decision taken during a project review could be somehow definitive.
Do you see other things to focus on in that case?
thanks for reading.
I have used Creative Problem Solving techniques for more than 10 years now and facilitated more than 100 workshops using this method or one derived from it. CSP is at one hand one of the most useful techniques to innovate, both for established companies and for start-ups.
CPS: a simple process to be creative
CPS is a simple but key process critical to any innovation process. yes, creativity and problem solving is a process and can impact strongly your innovative initiative.
From a couple of years now I have developed my own approach to CPS and workshop facilitation. My version of CPS takes the best of Design Thinking, Lean 6 sigma and creativity tools to travel from the problem identification to launching the project that will at the end solve it.
The necessary missing step of CSP
If the steps I used towards CPS are more or less the ones defined at Buffalo college in the 1950’s I strongly recommend to go as far as possible to the implementation phase.
My point is that often CSP workshops end with a lot of so-called « idea-sheets » or « action plan » to be implemented. That’s not enough if you want to deliver and innovate to create customer value. At this point my « Project Manager dark side of the force » takes the lead and drive it along the « Initiating Project Process ». It is a key factor of success to have, ready to sign for the sponsor, a project charter to launch the first activities necessary to evaluate and implement the solution to the CSP topic.
The definitive CSP steps
- Clarify the problem: Identify and converge on what your group understand from the topic
- Explore the problem: Define clearly the topic
- Analyse the problem: Analyse all the parameters and dimensions of your topic. Be sure to have everything in mind all the specifications of our topic
- Ideate: generate ideas, cross-fertilize them…
- Challenge the ideas: evaluate all ideas and transform them into concepts (a more advanced state) and explore all positive and negative aspects of the possible implementation
- Implement the ideas (initiate the projects): prepare the project, define the ready-to-launch actions incl. project charter, preliminary WBS and stakeholder map.
If you want some more information, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send us a mail
In the field of the new IMAGE-IN cards deck, INNOWEO has issued a booklet to help our community members to use the deck at its best.
Within the booklet, you will find 3 facilitation tools:
- One Ice Breaker exercise to start your workshop, to turn your group into a team in a few minutes.
- One Topic Exploration tool to define clearly the scope and state a common understanding of the topic.
- One Idea Generation tool to generate more breakthrough ideas, through connection and association
We developed those tools inspired by Arthur Koestler « The Act of Creation » and tested it for months in our own creativity and problem-solving workshops. It works very well and we want today to share it with you.
Get your IMAGE-IN cards and the IMAGE-IN booklets by joining the INNOWEO community!
INNOWEO is very proud to issue its first creativity cards deck: IMAGE-IN. This is a wonderful high quality PDF allowing you to print your own deck.
Those 68 A6 sized cards with high quality images aim to make you innovate more creatively. Inspired by Arthur Koestler « The Act of Creation », the cards have a general organization allowing you to connect, leverage and combine concepts, objects, elements and abstraction. By using the images on the cards and connecting it to your theme, you will empower the idea generation phase of your creativity of problem solving workshop.
In addition to the cards, we have developed for you the IMAGE IN booklet. In this booklet you will find out how to use the IMAGE-IN cards at their best:
- One Ice Breaker exercise to start your workshop,
- One Topic Exploration tool to define clearly the scope,
- One Idea Generation tool to generate more breakthrough ideas.
To get your own, join the INNOWEO community!
INNOWEO just issued its first creativity cards deck. Join our community to download it for free.
IMAGE-IN cards deck is a 68 cards deck that will provide your with inspiring pictures from Nature, Technologies or Abstract arts to help you think « out-of-the-box ». With the IMAGE-IN booklet, you will have 3 wonderful and easy exercises to use your IMAGE-IN cards. Also available for free for INNOWEO’s community members, a 40€ value!
So join our community to have our very own deck and enjoy our special contents. In addition, INNOWEO’s community members will be the first to have some more news about the coming soon specials we are working on at the moment. So join us now.
Photo courtesy of Mark Wickens
Another good find on the net. An interview of Frederik Pferdt () Head of Innovation and creativity @ Google. The subject? Innovative Workplace on a budget.
Frederik Pferdt Intw
Need to boost your innovation initiative?
Need to deploy an effective way to gather ideas from your community?
Need to energize your team on the innovation side?
You have the idea to run an innovation challenge?
Running such a challenge is not a straight and easy things to do if you want to leverage all results and achieve a good outcome regarding both continuous improvement or disruptive innovation.
What is an Innovation challenge?
An innovation challenge is particular in the way that it has an end (a few weeks), it is focused on a topic and, most important and often forgotten, it is has dedidacted ressources to implement the ideas. The deliverables should be clear and precisely defined (xx ideas implemented…).
In that way, an Innovation Challenge should be run as a project.
Why running an Innovation Challenge?
3 main reasons can lead to an innovation challenge. Otherwise some other tools might be more suitable.
- Want to solve specific problem and need ideas and insights
- Want to aware people on a specific subject
- Start your innovation initiative by a particular event.
Main steps to run an effective Innovation Challenge
- Name the project manager
- Define clear scope, duration and deliverables
- Determine the topic of the challenge and verify that it is aligned with coprporate concerns and startegy
- Define the wording of the question
- Find implementation team, allow ressources
- Define with mean will be used to set the challenge (dedicated software, sharepoint, email…)
- Define the targeted peoples who will be able to take part to the challenge
- Define a powerful and innovative (somehow funny) communication plan
- Run your challenge.
- Dont’t forget to clearly set to the audience what you are looking for (ideas? solutions? concepts?…)
- Keep the power high by communicating regularly and encourage discussion and exchange
- Review ideas, select the good ones and assign ressources (with a dedicated implematation plan)
- Communicate the results
Key parameters of success
- Run it as a project with all regarding attributes
- Management support incl. possiblities to mobilize team, ressources and budget to implement slected ideas.
- Have a clear duration, objectives and needs
- Encourage engagement and organize events to energize it.
I have run more than 10 innovation challenges so far. Most of the last ones have been succes ful with more than 500 ideas submitted and more than 1M€ savings generated. Not speaking about new products under development…
The first ones were a disaster. No problem to say it. I have collected for a 3 months duration 5 ideas for my first challenge… Bad topic, bad communication, unclear problem to solve, too wide subject, not a single good practice. We wanted to do a wonderfull challenge but ended with a too wide and difficult to handle challenge. The employees simply didn’t understand the point.
Hopefully this first fail did not affect the future ones because it stayed relatively unknown and we managed to prove to the community that all means were present for the second one hich have been much more sucessful.
What are you main lessons learned for your Innovation Challenge?
INNOWEO just issued its IMAGE-IN cards deck, a wonderful tool to help you innovate. Join the community to have access to your free deck.
I have been an accredited creativity and brainstorming facilitator for 8 years now. I have taken part as facilitator to almost 100 official sessions.
I have be trained in France by my company to a 5 diamond method (5 phases of divergence and convergence) allowing to fully cover the theme and leverage the creativity possibilities of the group. See my other article to know how to gather the right people into your creativity group (in french).
In all the sessions I have facilitated I have used several tools but one that works good, especially as ice breaker is the Nicolas Piepoli cards… Don’t ask me who he was and why those cards took his name. All I know is that it is a perfect way to start a creativity/brainstorming session.
how can we use such cards?
Those card are real cards but they can be used in those sessions thanks to the drawing they have.
My favourite ice breaker consists to randomly distribute one card per participant and then ask them to use the drawing to present themselves to the others. That is a powerful way to start. First people are shy, don’t really see how to do it, think by themselves etc… At that point it is important to have an accredited facilitator because they know to handle such situation. I personally take the lead, and do the exercise myself. It is easy now after so much facilitation 😉 It definitely engages the group and prove to everybody that it is possible.
Are the cards really necessary?
Absolutely not!!! Gather some nice not representative drawings and use it. The cards are just an easy way to it 😉
Who has already try the marshmallow challenge?
That is a very interesting way to build a team and see how creative and self-organized people are. I participated myself to a bunch of them.
Tom Wudjec made a lot of experiments around this team building exercise and gives us some hints.
- The worst people at that game? recent graduate from business school
- The most interesting structure? recent graduate from Kindergarten.
- The tallest ? Engineers and architect (hopefully)
- Why? Just look at the TED conference 🙂
And you, did you try the MC? Did you succeed? Have you the high skills needed?
Creativity is something strange that can happen wherever you are. Unfortunately I often hear « I am not a creative man, I cannot do it… ».
Being creative is simply about being confident, curious, active and persistent. Here our 15 levers to build a creative self-confidence and show your ideas to the world.
- Forget what you learned at school
- Stop taking to much caution
- Act before you doubt
- Connect, connect, connect (topics, ideas, behaviour, localisation, tech…)
- Keep It Stupid Simple (KISS)
- If you can clearly put words on it, keep it, otherwise kill it
- Be visionary, take a step back to look and think
- Hack your daily tools
- Be hungry even if you are lost
- Be courageous: accept to be wrong
- There is no « Why? » only Do it and see the results
- Iterate: Design. Test. Feedback. And redo.
- Everything is possible so try it
- Make a clean place, destroy what is existing and restart from scratch
- There is no crisis, only opportunities
What point would you add?