First, Linkner talked about the five steps to encourage creativity:
- Get curious
- Encourage courage - One idea is to use a "get out of jail free card." Most of us know this card from the Monopoly game. Some organizations use a similar card that allows an employee to fail and to not have that failure count against them. For example, what if you encouraged your employees to do new things. What happens if those new things fail? Do you want to reprimand an employee for a failure, where the person likely learned from that failure? What if you allowed each employee the forgiveness of one failure per year? Would that help people be more creative?
- Challenge assumptions - For an example, watch the Chrysler commercial below.
- Think small - have the mindset of a startup. You don't have to be small to think small.
- Shatter conventional wisdom - For an example of this, watch the Dove commercial below.
Then, Linkner led us through these three ways of generating new ideas:
- Role storming - Each person selects a character - based on a real person or fictional character. Each person then brainstorms from that character's point of view. At my table, we had Genghis Khan, Mark Cuban, Mary Poppins, and several other characters. It was very interesting to brainstorm using someone else's point of view. It was liberating and it did produce interesting ideas. While none of those ideas were exactly what we needed in order to solve our problem, we did generate ideas that in the real world would have been investigated further.
- The opposite -With this technique, you consider the exact opposite of what you would normally think or do. For example, libraries are considered safe places. What is the opposite of being a safe place and what ideas does that generate? This can lead to some wild stuff and also some very interesting ideas that would be worth investigating.
- The long list - We generally brainstorm a short list of ideas. With this, you brainstorm as many ideas as possible. We were told to get as many down on paper as we could and to push ourselves beyond 30 ideas. My group generated 103 ideas! Linkner contends that the first 20-30 ideas are easy and that real creativity occurs when you get past those.
Linkner used media very well during his talk, including several videos, including "dove evolution" and the videos below.