In this section, we introduce you to two creativity tools: SCAMPER and the Nominal Group Technique. This set of tools is not exhaustive but gives you some good intuition and resources to develop new ideas—either to craft a vision for a new company or revise an existing mission and vision. The first three tools can be used and applied individually or in groups; Nominal Group Technique is designed to bolster creativity in groups and can build on individual and group insights provided by the other tools.
All these tools help you to manage two divergent forms of thinking necessary for creativity—programmed thinking and lateral thinking. Programmed thinking often called left-brained thinking, relies on logical or structured ways of creating a new product or service. In terms of mission and vision, this means a logical and deliberate process is used to develop the vision statement. Lateral thinking is about changing patterns and perceptions; it is about ideas that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step, programmed, logic.1De Bono, E. (1992). Serious Creativity. New York: Harper Business; Osborn, A. (1953). Applied Imagination. New York: Scribner’s. Lateral thinking draws on the right side of our brains.
Each type of approach—programmed versus lateral—has its strength. Logical and disciplined programmed thinking is enormously effective in making products and services better. It can, however, only go so far before all practical improvements have been carried out. Lateral thinking can generate completely new concepts and ideas and brilliant improvements to existing systems. In the wrong place, however, it can be impractical or unnecessarily disruptive.
SCAMPER is a checklist tool that helps you to think of changes you can make to an existing marketplace to create a new one—a new product, a new service, or both.2Eberle, R. (1997). Scamper: Creative Games and Activities for Imagination Development. New York: Prufrock Press. You can use these changes either as direct suggestions or as starting points for lateral thinking. This, in turn, can inspire a new vision statement. The following table – “Creativity through SCAMPER” – provides you with the SCAMPER question steps and examples of new products or services that you might create.
As shown above, by taking a topic or problem and then using SCAMPER, you can generate possible new products. It may be some combination of these SCAMPER changes that lead to highly innovative solutions. For instance, the entertainment company Cirque du Soliel has modeled its shows on the traditional circus. However, it has adapted aspects of theater and opera, eliminated animals, and reduced the number of rings from three to one. As a result, it offers a highly stylized (and much more expensive) version of what, nostalgically, we call a circus today. Many of the ideas may be impractical. However, some of these ideas could be good starting points for a new organization or revision of the vision for an existing one.
Nominal Group Technique
The Nominal Group Technique (NGT) is a method of facilitating a group of people to produce a large number of ideas in a relatively short time. This section is reproduced with permission of the University of Wisconsin Extension Program. In addition to using NGT to develop a mission and vision statement, it can be useful:
- To generate numerous creative ideas
- To ensure everyone is heard
- When there is concern that some people may not be vocal
- To build consensus
- When there is controversy or conflict
Preparation and supplies for NGT are modest. It encourages contributions from everyone by allowing for equal participation among group members. A question is posed to the group. Individually and silently, each participant writes down his or her ideas. In round-robin fashion, each member supplies an idea until all ideas are shared. Generally, 6 to 10 people participate. “Nominal” means that the participants form a group in name only. For most of the session, they do not interact as they would in other group processes.
NGT Preparation and Supplies
Formulate your discussion question. Ensure that the wording prevents misunderstanding and is objective. Supplies needed include:
- Flip chart for each table
- Masking tape
- 3 × 5 cards for each participant
- Work tables
- Felt pens
The group is divided into small work groups, each with a leader. A flip chart and markers are needed at each table. Position the flip chart so that all can see the ideas. The remaining simple procedures are summarized in “NGT Procedure.”
- Introduction: Briefly welcome participants, clarify the purpose of the group exercise, and explain the procedure to be followed and how results are to be used.
- Present question: Orally present the question that is written on the flip chart; clarify as needed.
- Silent generation of ideas: Each participant silently thinks of and writes down (on 3 × 5 card) as many ideas as possible. Allow 5 to 10 minutes.
- Record ideas: In turn, each participant reads aloud one idea, and it is recorded on the flip chart for all to see.
- Continue until all ideas are recorded.
- Discourage discussion, not even questions for clarification.
- Encourage “hitchhiking,” that is, expanding on another’s statement. Ideas do not have to be from the participant’s written list.
- Participants may pass a turn and then add an idea at a subsequent turn.
- Discourage combining ideas from individuals unless they are exactly the same.
- Group discussion: After all ideas are recorded, the person who suggested the idea is given the opportunity to explain it further.
- Duplicates may be combined.
- Wording may be changed if the originator agrees.
- Ideas are deleted only by unanimous agreement.
- Restrict discussion to clarify meaning; the value or merit of ideas is not discussed.
Management 2020 text remixed from multiple sources under a CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. View a complete list of original sources.