Facilitating Creativity in Others When Using TRIZ

By Lilly Haines-Gadd

Creativity is useful when using Triz principles. It’s one thing to come up with a creative idea yourself: it’s another to foster that ability in others. While this may not initially seem terribly exciting, what’s the point of being the only creative person in a team? You’ll get much better results if everyone is able (and encouraged) to generate creative ideas and develop together the best solutions to your problems. Whether or not you are formally facilitating other people, you can still apply some simple tips and tricks to encourage creativity in the people around you. It will make the whole process of problem solving considerably more fun!

Provide the TRIZ systematic approach for understanding and solving problems, and it will get you the solutions you need.

Capture and park all solutions

Everyone loves their own solutions, and because of that, it’s easy for confident people to shout about them. However, initial ideas can get in the way of future ideas of great genius: allowing all ideas to be captured and parked allows you to let go of your own ideas and also encourages everyone to participate. This is particularly important when you’re trying to encourage others: if you park your ideas, it’ll help you pay more attention to theirs.

Allow people to contribute in the way they feel comfortable

Some people like to take an active role; others like to sit back and go with the flow. Allowing everyone to contribute in the manner in which they feel most comfortable will get the best out of everyone. Bad solution parks also allow everyone’s ideas to be shared (even the quiet, shy types).

Be positive about other people’s ideas

It’s really important to find the problems with any solutions before you put them into practice; however, it is dangerous to apply this thinking too soon. There is often a very powerful urge to tell someone what’s wrong with their idea, but when you’re at an early stage of problem solving and idea generation, it’s best to hold off on criticism until later.

There are only so many times that people can be told ‘no’ (or ‘That’ll never work’, or ‘That’s been tried before’) before they lose enthusiasm and stop even thinking of new ideas. At early stages, build on other people’s ideas and encourage them to build on yours too. If you see a problem, don’t express it until you’ve seen a solution to it (and share that too, as one potential option).

It’s best to withhold identifying what’s wrong with ideas formally until you’ve reached the point in the process where you’re developing and selecting ideas: those criticisms are really useful as they often express contradictions – so give yourself a route to improve all ideas.

Create a sense of trust

One other good element of holding back on criticising other people’s ideas is that people are generally more creative if they feel safe and confident that they can express their ideas without being laughed at. Creating an atmosphere where people can ask any question (no matter how apparently obvious or stupid) or suggest any idea (no matter how wacky) creates a great environment for free and creative thinking.