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Creative Thinking Tips Inspired by Pokémon GO’s Development

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“Do you know how to download this?”

The woman was leaning against her car, iPhone in hand.

“Everyone’s talking about Pokémon GO, but I can’t get it to download,” she said as she frantically scrolled and swiped. “Have you played it?”

I told her no, I hadn’t played it. And assuming she eventually figured out how to download it, it occurs to me that I might just be the earth’s last holdout.

How does a simple game suddenly take off like wildfire? And what lessons can we learn and apply to the creative problems we need to tackle in our own organizations?

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Diversity of Thought Drives Inclusion and Business Results at ConAgra Foods

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Over the past several years, a leader’s ability to be inclusive of diversity of thought and leverage it through Whole Brain® Thinking has become a strategic engagement and business enabler at ConAgra Foods—and experts in the D&I field are taking notice.

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Want to Accelerate Innovation? Embrace the Power of "And"

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The pressure’s building. It’s a consumer-driven world, and staying relevant means keeping pace with an ever-intensifying rate of change.

With so much data available now, new competitors are popping up all over, ready to fill the void if you can’t keep up. The race is on to get there first, to get that new product out there or to innovate your process so you can meet demand and stake your claim on the market.

There are some obvious advantages to being first to market with a new product or innovation. But in the rush to be first on the scene, with the analysis done and the case made, it can be pretty tempting to ignore potential user issues or alternative ideas, or to downplay latent quality issues or opportunities for improvements.

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Is Your Innovation Strategy Bearing Fruit?

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She’s a rainmaker. He’s the life of the party. They all have bubbly personalities, but sometimes you wish they’d just chill out.

Metaphors are one of the most common figures of speech. In fact, if you had a transcript of your conversations over the past 24 hours, you’d probably find it littered with metaphors.

But did you know that they’re also useful tools for thinking? Especially when you’re trying to think in different ways and discover new possibilities, metaphors can change your perspective and open up doors you didn’t even know existed.

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Why Problem Solving Starts with Problem Definition

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Charles Kettering, the celebrated inventor and head of research at General Motors, once said that a problem well stated is a problem half solved. Most people today would probably agree. And yet, it’s not what most people usually do.

Typically, they jump right in to brainstorming solutions before understanding what they really want to accomplish.

You can dramatically increase your problem-solving effectiveness by taking a few minutes to define the problem up front. In fact, you might be surprised at how often this step leads directly to a solution.

Take the elevator makers’ dilemma, for example.

You can imagine what it was like when elevators were introduced. People were understandably nervous about getting on them. They fidgeted and pushed buttons, impatient and waiting for the elevator to arrive at its destination. And there was a widespread perception that elevators were unbelievably slow. This led to complaints.

So, elevator makers had a problem on their hands: Can we make our product move faster?

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Why Being Right Can Be So Wrong

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Have you ever noticed that you’re always right?

You probably don't believe that everything you think and say is the final, capital-T TRUTH—not at a conscious level, anyway. But like me, you probably tend to act that way.

That’s because each of us defines for ourselves what’s true and what’s untrue. We grow attached to a body of beliefs, which means that we resist new ideas. We tolerate other people's opinions to the extent that they match our own. Beyond that, we unconsciously tune out.

When choosing friends, we gravitate toward people who agree with us. When encountering a new idea, we argue against it. We look for ways to make people wrong. When seeking feedback or solving a problem, we search out the people who reinforce us. We'd rather get validated than get challenged.

In other words, we're always "right."

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What Does Diversity Have to Do with Innovation?

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For many, the word “diversity” brings up images of staid EEOC training or well-intended but not necessarily critical programs—the “have-to-dos” that don’t get much buy-in or enthusiastic support across the business. So it’s probably not the first word that comes to mind when you’re talking about innovation.

But here’s why it should be.

“A diverse group of people can be more innovative than a homogenous group.”

In making that statement, David Greenberg, Senior Vice President of HR for L'Oréal US, emphasized that he’s not just talking about the more traditional definition of diversity but also diversity of thought, which he says is key to how L’Oréal fosters innovation. While he acknowledges that there can be more friction and discomfort when you bring together people who think differently, “the output,” he says, “is more innovative.”

Cognitive diversity­ has been getting a lot of attention lately for this very reason. Modern business issues demand innovative thinking, especially when you consider the fact that, from market conditions to customer demographics to the problems, tasks and tools, nearly all of the variables have changed. With so much complexity, we need diverse perspectives and ideas. You can’t use old processes to fix new problems.

Our research, including the six-year study on team effectiveness conducted by the US Forest Service, as well as numerous examples from companies like Caesars/Harrahs Entertainment, has consistently shown that you get greater creative output and, ultimately, more effective solutions when you bring together heterogeneous thinking teams and give them practical tools to leverage their differences. Furthermore, mentally balanced teams consider more options, make better decisions and exceed expectations more often than homogeneous teams.

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4 Common Innovation Roadblocks—And How to Get Over Them

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A recent Harvard Business Review article reminds us that while it’s natural to look for consensus, you’re actually better off looking for contention if you want to make the big, bold moves that fuel innovation.

Our research and experience back this up, particularly from a thinking standpoint. When people are on the same “mental wavelength,” there’s little confrontation of opposing concepts and ideas. That means no matter how much time is allocated, the team will typically come back early with a solution and say it would be counterproductive to spend any more time on it.

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How to Get Value from a Team’s Thinking Diversity

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Trying to navigate a thorny issue? Need an innovative solution? Looking for a way to help your team dig deeper and really flex their thinking muscles?

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Tips for Leading Cognitive Diversity in Teams

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One of the things we know from the research on team performance is that getting great results from a team isn’t just about everyone getting along or coming to quick agreement. In fact, when the problems are complex or we need to push the boundaries for innovation, creative abrasion, which comes from the collaboration of diverse thinking styles and perspectives, can make the difference.

But it can also make people uncomfortable.

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