Case Study: Creating New Responses in Our Work

The Challenge

Facing pressures to service delivery and a decrease in budget, this client wanted to remind managers and staff of the organization’s vision  and encourage them to think creatively, challenge assumptions, and be willing to take the risk on doing their work in new ways. One key change message summed up the client’s thinking nicely: “Given our changing circumstances, doing things the same way might not be the best way going forward.”

The challenge here was to deliver learning to managers and staff that opened everyone to new possibilities, aligned to key messages about changes in the organization, and made explicit the new behaviours needed in managers and employees as a result. An additional challenge was to deliver the content in a relevant and engaging manner, in less than three hours.

Our Solution  

We wanted individuals to understand their personal responsibility to finding new ways of working and we wanted to deliver the training in a way that modelled the behaviours they would need to learn to adopt.

Rather than run a standard training, we framed the training as a problem-solving workshop. By collaborating with our client, we landed on a personal challenge for everyone in the group to explore during the workshop: “How might I use creative thinking, take risks and challenge assumptions as we learn new ways to achieve our vision?”

After presenting the challenge to the group at the workshop, we delivered content that put creativity into a work context and made specific links to how creative thinking helps people in organizations solve the challenges that come with making change.  We helped people understand the difference between the creative thinking they were now being asked to do and the critical thinking everyone typically does. We taught creative thinking principles and three tools that would support people in generating ideas, and building and evaluating the strength of new solutions. We showed them how these tools could be used to assess and overcome the risk of doing work in new ways. Then, to solidify learning, we ended the workshop by having everyone use the tools we taught them to generate, develop and evaluate ideas to solve the challenge we presented at the start of the workshop.

The Result

The workshop delivered practical tools and processes for doing work in new ways and creating more value for clients, despite a decreasing budget in the organization. More importantly, individuals and teams were able to use the tools and processes to identify specific places where they could use creative thinking, take risks and challenge assumptions.  Individuals and teams had tangible examples of how to behave, and how to balance the need to be creative and overcome the risks of doing things differently. The workshop opened dialogue between senior leaders, managers and staff, ensuring everyone knew they had permission to challenge assumptions and take risks on doing work in new ways – and in fact, that it was necessary they did.

Asked what they liked, learned or found surprising about the workshop, managers and staff said:

“I didn’t think I was creative – you showed me how I could contribute at work.”

“With these tools, it will be easier to come up with new ways of doing our work, and work productively together.”

“I didn’t realize being creative had rules. I like how the rules make it safe to share my ideas.”

“This will make the changes ahead a lot more enjoyable.”

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