The purpose of the experiment was to find out whether it was possible to apply the Synectics creative problem-solving techniques to a live issue through the medium of the online creativity journal. As the facilitator of the session, my conclusion is a highly qualified 'Yes': the Problem Owner did get some new ideas which she is trying to implement and seems more optimistic about achieving something in her chosen field than she was at the start of the session. Since that is the purpose of the experiment, it has to be seen as a success.
We were able to follow the basic Synectics structure of a Briefing from the Problem Owner, followed by the generation of Springboards, selection by the Problem Owner of attractive springboards and development by the Problem Owner of new courses of action they intended to implement.
However, as a demonstration of the Synectics technique, it left a lot to be desired and highlighted the huge differences between a live, face to face session and an online session using written inputs only. Synectics works by creating an emotionally safe climate in which people are willing to take risks, speculate, trigger off one another and generally have fun (I used to regard the amount of laughter as an indicator of the emotional energy of the group). None of that was achieved in the experiment, for a variety of reasons:
The experiment brought home to me how much the process depends on real-time coaching of the Problem Owner by the facilitator, so that the Problem Owner can contribute most effectively to stimulate imaginative springboards. At the crucial selection stage, the facilitator can encourage the Problem Owner to take risks in pursuing speculative lines of thought; this was more difficult to achieve remotely.
Our Creativity Live Synectics experiment is now concluded - have a look below to see how Synectics works and see how it helped our problem owner, Denise Salmon...
We had an opportunity for readers to apply their creative problem-solving abilities to a real live problem. Denise Salmon from Jamaica agreed to present her problem as ‘Problem Owner’ and we asked readers to act as resources/helpers by contributing their thoughts under the ‘suspend judgement’ convention.
As you can see from Creativity Live, Denise has a passion for writing, especially for children, and a passion for Jamaica, especially its natural environment, and she has combined these in her work. Indeed, she sees an affinity with the natural environment as an important source of creativity. Another source of creativity, she has noted, is the determination some people have to make the best use of what they have when resources are scarce.
Denise began writing when recovering from a terrible road accident (read about it here) and here she talks about her work and family: