Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Upcoming Six Hats Workshops

Public service announcement: we have a few seats left at our upcoming Six Thinking Hats and Lateral Thinking workshops in Chicago, July 15-16:
Other upcoming programs include:
These public programs are also a good opportunity to attend trainer certification in Six Thinking Hats or Lateral Thinking. See our trainer certification page for additional details, or give us a call at 515.278.1292.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


A creative new iPhone app is generating buzz: LeftoverSwap. The idea? To share leftover food between strangers.
 Love it or hate it, it's definitely a provocative idea. After one gets past the initial red hat ("Ugh, gross!"), there are definitely some strong yellow hat benefits, in terms of reducing food waste, feeding hungry people, helping other people to stretch their dollars, minimizing our carbon footprint, and creating social connections between people.

What other yellow and black hat can you think of?

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Beta Test our new Innovation Assessment (v3.0)

We're soon launching the third beta test of our new innovation assessment - and we need your help!

The feedback from the first two rounds of testing has been overwhelming positive, and we're eager to see what improvements that R&D department has cooked up.

This is a team-based innovation assessment that focuses on the culture of innovation within a team or organization. We posit that innovation is a function of two variables:
  1. Individual team members' personal attitudes towards innovation
  2. The group culture and how it enhances (or impedes) innovation
There's no cost to participate - we simply want user feedback. Beta testers will receive detailed, highly personalized reports on their individual innovation styles, the overall team innovation style, and specific suggestions for fomenting a more innovative culture.

The time commitment is 15-20 minutes to complete the online assessment, 2-3 hours for a team workshop to discuss the results, and 5 minutes for an online survey about the experience. We also ask the team leader for a 30-minute phone interview.

Want to join? We'd love your input! Email beta "at" to participate.

Friday, September 28, 2012

New Innovation Assessment: Project da Vinci

Want to beta test an exciting, new innovation assessment?
Project da Vinci, a new product initiative for 2013, has just gone into beta. This program explores the question of how organizations foster and maintain an innovative culture? We hypothesize that organizational innovation is a function of (1) individual behavioral styles and (2) group dynamics. Project da Vinci explores this question using individual and team self-assessments.

We're looking for existing, intact teams that consider themselves innovative, are working on an innovative project, or have an interest in innovation.

Our beta testers will receive a detailed, highly personalized report of their individual innovation styles, including suggestions for recognizing and adapting to colleagues' styles. You will also receive a team report, offering insights and guidance on how group dynamics affect (positively or negatively) the team's ability to innovate. Plus, you'll get a sneak preview of a very exciting new product, and your feedback will shape how it ultimately looks, feels, and works.

Interested? To participate, please let us know at, or see our Project da Vinci webpage for additional details.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The State of Create

Adobe and consultancy StrategyOne have released an international creativity study, the State of Create Global Benchmark. Before we get to their conclusions, I have two quick caveats. One, yes, I'm late to party on this one. Mea culpa. Two, I have some concerns about their methodology. Specifically, the report offers little information about their methodology, and the some of the phrasing slants in one direction. Together, these two facts make me question the report's objectivity. Regardless, I always welcome new research on creativity and innovation, so I'm pleased to read this report.

Their summary of drivers of and barriers to creativity includes two statements that I agree are bang on:

1. "People need more time, training and an environment where they can think creatively."
2. "A majority of people prefer to create by themselves."

Yes, absolutely, on both counts. Creative thinking is hard work, and it requires a specific time and place where the thinker can concentrate. It's important to take time out from one's everyday routine in order to think creatively.

As the benchmark notes, innovation also requires training. It's insufficient to say, "Okay, team, today we're going to think out of the box! I want 50 new ideas!" That's all well and fine, but innovation requires snapping the brain out of its habitual thought patterns. There are many techniques for accomplishing this - we, of course, are particularly fond of Six Thinking Hats and Lateral Thinking - but the specific methodology is less important than getting participants' brains out of their comfort zones.

The second point also illustrates the importance of allowing time and space for individual thinking. Particularly in a group setting - such as stereotypical office brainstorming sessions - people nonetheless do their best thinking by themselves. The most effective ideation meetings include time for individual thinking as well as group feedback and analysis.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Innovation Fridays at Garage Games

Digital Journal sends us to video game company Garage Games, which has implemented Innovation Fridays to give employees time and space to work on creative projects of their own devising. We wholeheartedly applaud this decision; it's our experience that giving time and space for individual thinking is an essential element of the innovation process. Kudos to Garage Games.

Friday, August 17, 2012

More on Six Thinking Hats: The (Non)-Musical

Quick follow-up to my previous posts (here and here) on Asher Treleaven's Six Thinking Hats stand-up comedy routine.

First, the Guardian reviews Edinburgh fringe. Of Treleaven's show, they say, "Not many comics could get away with introducing their show as 'like a comedy TED talk', but Treleaven always walks a fine line between the intellectual and the physical – he sums up his show as 'Daddy issues, juggling and ball cancer'. It's a slick blend of physical comedy, beat poetry, circus skills and some nicely crafted lines – he describes a fellow performer as 'the sort of woman who would try to give you echinacea for Aids' – but you can't help feeling at the end that you wanted to know more, or at least to see beneath the carefully polished surface."

Second, the Independent gives Treleaven a column in which he muses about art vs. sport, or the decision to attend Edingburgh fringe vs. the Olympic Games. He also summarizes the different hats, although I fear he rather makes a hash of yellow and black. It's completely wrong to call the yellow hat "speculative creativity," whatever that means. Regular readers of this blog know that the yellow hat represents benefits and positive outcomes, not creativity (whether speculative or otherwise).

As for the black hat, Treleaven calls it "the Black Hat of critical thinking and decision-making," which is both imprecise and flat-out wrong. The statement is imprecise in that the black hat is "critical thinking" in the sense of "criticizing" or "identifying problems," not in the larger sense of "logic and analysis" (which in fact is a property of all six hats). Furthermore, the statement is wrong in that the decision-making hat is the Blue Hat, which controls the thinking process and determines next steps.

On balance, however, I'm still endlessly entertained by the idea of a Six Thinking Hats stand-up routine (or, for that matter, a Six Thinking Hats musical), and I do hope to catch a performance sometime. Has anybody seen the show? I'd love to hear your thoughts.