This is another book in the Harvard Pocket Mentor series, titled Fostering Creativity and written by Dorothy Leonard, a professor at Harvard Business school. Among other lessons this book aims to help us understand how to:
- Identify opportunities for innovative solutions
- Develop an environment conducive to creativity
- Move a team from brainstorming to project execution
This book has just 78 pages and the content, which is really useful, is split into two main sections, the reading content titled Fostering Creativity: The Basics and a section with extra tools titled , Tips and Tools. I review both sections very briefly below.
Fostering Creativity: The Basics
This section has five topical areas.
What is creativity?
This is a good start for a book on creativity as the author takes the time to define what creativity is. Here’s the definition used:
A process of developing and expressing novel ideas that are likely to be useful.
This is contrasted with innovation defined as:
The embodiment, combination, and / or synthesis of knowledge in original, relevant, valued new products, processes, or services.
Personally I found this definition on innovation to be unclear. But then author does clarify that innovation is the end process of creativity. Continue reading
You might have read my book review of Sprint (you can read it here). I also curated one idea from the book which you can read here. Here are ten interesting quotes I gleaned from the book.
- The sprint is Google Venture’s unique five-day process for answering crucial questions through prototyping and testing ideas with customers.
- Good ideas are hard to find. And even the best ideas face an uncertain path to real-world success.
- The sprint gives our startups a superpower. They can fast-forward into the future to see their finished product and customer reactions before making any expensive commitments.
- You won’t finish with a complete, detailed ready-to-ship product. But you will make rapid progress, and know for sure if you’re headed in the right direction.
- When our new ideas fail, it’s usually because we were overconfident about how well customers would understand and how much they would care.
- Before the sprint begins, you’ll need to have the right challenge and the right team.
- When a big problem comes along, like the challenge you selected for your sprint, it’s natural to want to solve it right away. The clock is ticking, the team is amped up, and solutions start popping into everyone’s mind. But if you don’t first slow down, share what you know, and prioritize, you could end up wasting time and effort on the wrong part of the problem.
- Starting at the end is like being handed the keys to a time machine. If you could jump ahead to the end of your sprint, what questions would be answered?
- Slowing down might be frustrating for a moment, but the satisfaction and confidence of a clear goal will last all week.
- You can run a sprint anytime you’re not sure what to do, or struggling to get started, or dealing with a high-stakes decision.
Sprint by Jake Knapp attempts to teach us an engaging and interactive way to come up with solutions and test ideas in just five days. In my opinion the book succeeds at doing that. See my review of the book here. While the book focuses on a single technique, within the techniques are many ideas that canbe used independently. One of such ideas is the ‘four-step sketch’. The four-step sketch is a way to come up with a rough sketch for a potential solution. The four steps involved are: notes, ideas, crazy 8s and solution sketch.
- Notes: during a sprint you will collect lots of information and ideas. The aim of the four-step sketch process is to bring the information and ideas together to begin to create solution for the goal set at the beginning of the sprint. For the notes step, people will be given 20 minutes to go round the room and note down information which they find relevant to the solution being designed. After the 20 minutes is up they will be given an extra 20 minutes to review the information they’ve noted down.
- Idea: next is the idea strage, when each person will start jotting down ideas derived from all the information they collected at the notes stages. Ideas can be jotted down as doodles, headlines, diagrams, stick figures and whatever cones to mind. It does not matter if the ideas look messy or are incomplete. Another 20 minutes is used for this stage.
- Crazy 8s: this is a quick exercises which involves each person taking their strongest idea and rapidly sketching out eight variations of the idea in eight minutes. To do this each person divides the sheet of paper they have into 8 different sections and uses each section for sketching one variation of the idea, so that in the end the same idea has eight variations. Note that the ‘crazy’ does not refer to the idea, but rather the pace of the sketching. The focus here is on deriving usable ideas.
- Solution Sketch: this is the stage where everyone’s idea will be assessed by the whole group. But first each person must take their best idea sketch it out in detail in a three-panel format. This can be three sticky notes or three sheets of paper. Some tips for doing this well are: make sure it is self explanatory, keep it anonymous, it doesn’t have to look elegant, ugly is okay, good writing is important and give it a catchy title.
Previously I posted a book review for How To Teach Yourself To Think. I learnt a couple of things from reading the book. Here I share one of the key lessons I learnt. You can read the book review here.
How to generate possible solutions for a problem
Teach Yourself To Think introduces a five stage framework for structuring our thinking process towards finding solutions and solving problems. The five stages of the framework are: Continue reading
If you follow the technology startup scene or you are part of a company that is always looking out for the latest thing around innovation then you should have heard of the term lean startup. The Lean Startup written by Eric Ries in 2011 helped popularize the concept and explain the principles involved in developing businesses, products and services the lean startup way. Eric Ries is an entrepreneur who had been involved in starting companies that failed and succeeded, but his learning for lean startup came from his success rather than failure. Continue reading