Saturday, November 21, 2009

"Yes and" & "Yes if" - Disney Creative Thinking Tools

I did a second Ideation session at Barcamp06 on popular demand from the Techies. They found the "Reverse your Assumptions" session very cool and they wanted to learn more. I chose two demonstrate the power of two very simple tools - "Yes and" & "Yes if". I had learnt it from two Disney Imagineers in a Disney Creativity Workshop. These are great tools for triggering creative thinking in a group. I used it recently at Xchanging (Bangalore) with Tansen's Six Sigma team and it was great fun.

"Yes and" - A problem is posed - the first person shares his Idea - a second person says yes and .... - i.e he accepts the first idea and adds a little more to it - it is a small increment that strengthens the idea further. The second person's idea is not too different but it builds up on the first Idea. By the time idea goes through one round it becomes real strong. This tool encourages you to build up on the previous idea, In the absence of this tool, each person tends to give a new idea in a different direction. Stengthening of ideas does not happen naturally.

Lets us go for a movie - yes and we will eat out - yes and desserts at baskin Robbins - yes and we will invite Shreya too - yes and we will pick her up from work - yes and ...

"Yes if" - How do you respond to an Idea that sounds impractical - do you reject the Idea ?
you could tell that

Shankar's Idea is good ... yes if we are given 1 yr time to market and $1M budget - yes if the lab is ready by Jan - yes if the equipment can be run round the clock - yes if we can hire atleast two technicians....

This tool makes you think about the conditions under which an idea makes sense. It moves you away from a judgemental thinking mode and forces you to think about implementation aspects.

Use "Yes and" and "Yes if" when you want to trigger creative thinking in a group.

Reverse your Assumptions - My Ideation session at Barcamp06

I conducted two ideation sessions at the Barcamp organized by PuneTech. The crowd was very enthusiastic and creative - it was not only my first Barcamp but also the first time that I did Ideation sessions with such a big crowd. I chose to demonstrate two powerful creative thinking tools.

The first session: I demonstrated the application of the tool "Reverse your Assumptions" - the Techies found this tool very cool. I had learnt this tool from the book "The Medici Effect" and got good ideas every time i used it.

First we did some generic examples like Restaurant, School etc. Then we took up the problem of improving the traffic situation in Pune - came up with a big bunch of reasonably out of the box ideas in just 30 minutes.

How - The tool works like this. Take the concept of School. List down the most basic assumptions about a school - like a school needs taechers, students, classroom, books, exams etc. Then reverse each of these assumptions - a school without a teacher, no exams, no books, no students etc. Brainstorm around these reversed assumptions and list teh ideas, Finally relate the ideas to a convention school - we end up with innovative ideas to run a school.

Why - The tool readily gives out of the box ideas because when you reverse the assumption, you are able to break free from your present paradigms. You are able to escape your psychologial inertia and think fresh.

Reverse your assumptions to break the psychological inertia.

Friday, November 20, 2009

BarCamp06 - by Pune Tech - an innovative & democratic hi- tech mela

This was my first Barcamp.

A Barcamp is a “democratic” conference. It is not a normal / traditional conference. A normal / traditional conference is usually put together by a committee of professors, or industry veterans, and the speakers are selected by the committee and invited to speak. Many of the speakers are “forced” upon the conference by the sponsors, and they end up droning about how cool their product is. The other talks tend to be boring “lectures” or “speeches” that you fall asleep in. Who can attend is also constrained by money (conferences fees are high), or by other means (only members may attend). Anybody who’s been to a traditional conference will tell you that the tea-breaks and the corridor-conversations are the most interesting and important part of a conference.

Think of a barcamp as an entire conference that consists only of tea-breaks and corridor-conversations. Well, it’s a little more structured than that – but not much … A barcamp is not a conference – it is an unconference. Anybody can attend a barcamp. Anybody can speak on any topic that they are passionate about. A whiteboard is put up in the morning with the available rooms and timeslots. People can write down their name and the title of their talk in any available slot. Based on this, the others can decide which talks they want to attend. That’s it. Repeat all day.

Democracy.You’ll wonder, if anybody can speak, how do we ensure quality of speakers and presentations? By the “law of two feet“. The audience in a Barcamp are encouraged to use their two feet and walk away from a talk if it turns out to be boring. People are encouraged to find and create subgroups interested in specific topics, find a room or a corridor, and start discussing – and they often do.This ensures that everybody finds something interesting, and often something unexpected at a Barcamp.

Maybe you might find the 15-year-old kid who knows more about Search-Engine-Optimization than all the “industry veterans” you’ve met. Maybe you’ll go there to learn new technology and instead find some really interesting NGOor other social work organization and join that. Maybe you’ll just land up there, not knowing what to expect, and end up finding not just your first job, but a great career. Maybe you have an idea for a company, but don’t know how to implement it, and you’ll find someone at Barcamp who’s willing to handle the technology for you.I’m not just making all of that up. Each one of the sentences in the previous paragraph that started with “Maybe” is actually a real-life story that I saw that happen during the Barcamp06.