Tony Osbourne and Judith Sawbridge from Staffordshire West Midlands Probation Trust (SWMPT) spoke at this week’s OR Society Criminal Justice Special Interest Group meeting on the subject of ‘thinking differently about improvement projects’.
Over the past couple of years they have been introducing managers and staff to ways of using creative thinking in order to come up with transformational improvements. They described the need for divergent and convergent thinking when solving problems and reminded us that Brainstorming is only one tool in the kitbag. It’s also important to recognise that Brainstorming often simply doesn’t work, but that’s usually due to people not following it’s rules.
SWMPT have made us of an NHS Toolkit and adapted it for their use to deliver improvements in operational performance and generate creative solutions to challenging organisational situations.
I was reminded of a raft of creative thinking techniques that I used to introduce to people for problem solving and process improvement projects. They include…
- The Reversal technique
- Analogies and Metaphors
- Manipulative Verb technique
- Adopt a different point of view
- The Five Whys
If there was a key message for me in their presentation, it was to keep tools simple and relevant to the task in hand.
I was also reminded of an article I read recently on the subject of innovation in the public sector (from some research in New Zealand). In particular, I was interested to read about the roles needed in organisations for innovation to flourish. One of the key roles identified in this paper is the “Guardian Angel” and the view is there are too few of these people in the public sector. These people know the value of working under the radar, but they also know when it is possible to ‘go public’ and when it is necessary to do so for reasons of public accountability. They know how to stand back and let an innovation develop (or more actively facilitate its development), even though the risks in doing so may be quite high.
My Mindmap from the SWMPT presentation is below…