Detailed Description

Tapping Creative Juices: A positive way to respond to the economy

“Increasingly, the new core competence is creativity — the right-brain stuff that smart companies are now harnessing to generate top-line growth. …..” (Business News)

What happens when things don’t go as expected? How do we greet the unexpected with a creative and collaborative response that brings out new solutions and benefits? What would happen if, instead of blocking the strange or unfamiliar, we accepted it as an offer to interact with new possibilities?

The economic realities we face today require us to develop unprecedented responses to new situations. Once we have access to our inner spring of creative abundance, we can see situations from another perspective and generate ideas that we had never thought of before (Pink).

Interactive exercises and creative, playful games draw out a spontaneous, imaginative spirit in people and invite them to respond to situations in original ways. The results are not only delightful and surprising, but also bring out an atmosphere of team cohesiveness and co-operation. The deep listening, trust and group  awareness of these experiences illustrates what it can be like when individuals pull together for the best outcome. Everyone feels good about themselves when they respond to the unexpected with their most focused team effort. In this way, we get to experience how each person’s creative impulse is the key to better morale and improved team output.

“The game is changing. It isn’t just about math and science anymore. It’s about creativity, imagination, and, above all, innovation.” (Business Week)

In this interactive session, participants will be guided through a series of exercises that will expand their capacity to think outside the box and tap their own creative resources. Sharon Bronstein MSW and Alan Caplan MA, who have over 20 years of experience as creative arts therapists, will guide participants to apply these creative skills to discover new solutions to everyday work challenges.

Here are three situations, extracted from Open Hand Team-building case studies, that illustrate how previous solutions were no longer sufficient in the current economic climate.

Case One

Celia is the human resources representative of an insurance company. She has been in charge of a team who plans the staff Christmas party for the past eight years. She has always done an excellent job even though it is an expensive proposition. She traditionally orders many case loads of alcohol, hires a gourmet caterer, and she gets a professional party planning company to decorate. In the course of the prosperous last eight years, the lavishness of the party has been a sign of pride to the company owners. This year is different. With the economic downturn, her budget has been slashed to almost nothing. She is desperate. How will she and her team be able to deliver a quality party without the funds?

Case Two

Bob is co-owner of a popular upscale gift shop with a mid-size staff. He was banking on the Christmas season to boost his flagging profits since the news of the economic slowdown last October. People are cutting back on extra expenses. The Christmas season came and went. People have been deciding against splurging on expensive gifts. They have been giving to the Food Bank and paying attention to the plight of the homeless. Valentine’s Day is approaching and he needs some fresh ideas to attract customers because the old ideas are not working anymore.

Case Three

Sam is a manager for a company where she is responsible for eight staff, all working on a full-time basis. Sam’s managerial skills are excellent and over the years she has facilitated a great working atmosphere. They not only are a tight working team, but they also socialize outside of work and form a support network for one another. Sam has been ordered to fire one person because the company has to cut costs in her department. She has to decide who to cut. To make matters worse, Melissa, who had the least seniority, is the person who most desperately needs the work. She is a single mother and the sole supporter of three young children. Many of the older women help out with these children and adore them. Sam is worried about the staff morale if she fires Melissa, yet she still needs to produce a certain amount each month.

Celia, Bob and Sam each felt like they had hit a wall. They were confident in the tried and true methods that had been successful for so many years. But to find new solutions, they had to view the situation from another angle. New thinking, that is. Thinking outside the box is required for responding to the challenges that economic realities have demanded. They would have to use right brain thinking rather than linear solutions to discover how they could transform these challenges into strengths.

A whole new mindset is now available to us, based on the findings in creativity research (Pink). Before rushing off to find solutions to our problems we can develop a state of “relaxed attention” (Osborn). Theorists note that suspending judgment and moving into a relaxed state allows people to receive images and ideas that offer instant insight and new perception related to problem-solving. It is said that Albert Einstein first realized the distortion of time and space by imagining himself riding on a ray, travelling the speed of light (Samuels). Uncensoring ideas, freeing oneself from habit, labelled thoughts, and the fear of failure opens a person to unique and useful ideas. Henri Pointcare 19th century mathematician writes about his most famous discovery, “Disgusted with my failure, I went to spend a few days by the seaside and thought of something else. One morning, walking on the bluff, the idea came to me, with brevity, suddenness, and immediate certainty” (Ghiselin). If we can let our imagination roam freely around the subject of a problem, or concentrate on images or metaphors, there is a shift that increases our ability to receive creative ideas ( Samuels).

We work with teams applying a five-step process:

  • Safe, fun and relaxing interactive warm-up exercises – 20 min.
  • Spontaneity exercises that tap creative resources -1 hour Ensemble work that requires co-operation & deep listening to others – 30 min
  • Identifying the skills that emerged in the creative exercises -15 min
  • Return to original issue, now apply the skills learned in exercises – 50 min.

The exercises we use are a derived from a combination of sources:

  • Ruth Zaporah, who has distilled improv into its component elements and calls her work a combination of Zen meditation and improv theatre(Zaporah).
  • Jo Salas(Salas)/Keith Johnstone(Johnstone)/Rhiannon/Jonathan Fox(Fox), improv teachers whom we have studied with.
  • Our own original exercises developed to work with communication and relationship issues.

Once one has faith that new ideas are as plentiful as the magician who keeps pulling more and more scarves out of his pocket, (a seemingly endless supply of them), then we have the faith to take the risk to create original ideas that no one may have considered before. The synergy of the team who are tapping individual creative resources, as well as witnessing it in one another, adds momentum to finding creative solutions that work for everyone.

Some of the skills people identify from working with this creative technique are:

  • Making others look good
  • Moving forward with unfolding an idea
  • Breaking conventional logic
  • Giving up over-control
  • Accepting the offers of others
  • No blocking
  • Awareness of the whole picture
  • Taking risks in thinking
  • Deep listening
  • Trusting impulses (one’s own and other’s)

The discoveries, playfulness, and collaborative skills developed through these experiences will offer people a taste of a fresh, new approach that has been developing in the corporate world lately. One which can be developed and applied to any person’s work environment to foster a boost in staff morale and improved team output.

“The Knowledge Economy as we know it is being eclipsed by something new — call it the Creativity Economy.“

-(Business News)