Most firms have intelligent, capable, knowledgeable managers who are very good at day-to-day problem solving. So why do they need management consultants? There are occasions when consultants bring in specialist competencies, but if that is not the case then their value only really lies in their outside perspective – their ability to frame break from the “company way” and their ability to come up with and implement good ideas that would not otherwise have been thought of.
From this it follows that management consultants should be:
a) Good at creativity and innovation in general.
b) Better than others at it.
Following are some techniques that can be used to improve the quality and quantity of the idea pool:
a) Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation whereas innovation can be defined as idea selection, development and commercialisation. Concentrating on defining the problem usually results in multiple problem statements and naturally leads to multiple pathways that result in different sets of ideas.
b) Problem identification is more productive when it benefits from the experiences of many individuals. For example, customers usually see problems that salespeople do not. Salespeople see problems that designers do not. Finance people see problems that designers do not. And so forth.
c) That idea generation is part of creativity and idea selection is part of innovation indicates that creative and critical thinking should be kept separate and distinct. Writing and editing are two different skills. First use creative thinking, which is expansive, imaginative, unrestricted, daring, uninhibited and revolutionary. Then use critical thinking, which is logical, focused, conservative, practical and feasible.
d) Prolific idea generation produces more quality than limited productivity. The best ideas occur way after the 20, 50 or 100 mark, when blocks have been removed, competencies learned and the experience curve climbed. The single best creative product tends to appear when the creator is being most prolific.
These and other topics are covered in depth in the MBA dissertation on Managing Creativity & Innovation, which can be purchased (along with a Creativity and Innovation DIY Audit, Good Idea Generator Software and Power Point Presentation) from http://www.managing-creativity.com
Kal Bishop, MBA
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