More than any other situation Change is about cooperation and collaboration. No matter if your company is in serious trouble or just wants to find a new way to line itself up – it always needs people to initiate, moderate, steer, coordinate and live that Change.

So what? The problem is that often people simply don´t know how to cooperate. Of course people cooperate on a daily base, but this is mostly routine, it´s like a form of vegetative state. Change causes different needs and different needs urges people to modify their behavior.

Over years I have collected several “Creativity Techniques” to support Cooperation between people – not only in times of Change. It is always better to be prepared than surprised…

What are Creativity Techniques?
Creativity techniques are heuristic methods to facilitate creativity in a person or a group of people. They are most often used in creative problem solving.

Generally, most creativity techniques use associations between the goal (or the problem), the current state (which may be an imperfect solution to the problem), and some stimulus (possibly selected randomly). There is an analogy between many creativity techniques and methods of evolutionary computation.

In problem-solving contexts, the random word creativity technique is perhaps the simplest such method. A person confronted with a problem is presented with a randomly generated word, in the hopes of a solution arising from any associations between the word and the problem. A random image, sound, or article can be used instead of a random word as a kind of creativity goad or provocation.

CATWOE is a mnemonic for a checklist for problem or goal definition (Checkland and Scholes, Soft Systems Methodology in Action, 1990). CATWOE is applied to the system which contains the problem, issue or solution, rather than to the problem or goal itself – i.e. to: ‘A system to …’ ‘A system for …’; or ‘A system that …’. Such a definition should include:

  • C The ‘customers of the system’. In this context, ‘customers’ means those who are on the receiving end of whatever it is that the system does. Is it clear from your definition who will gain or lose?
  • A The ‘actors’, meaning those who would actually carry out the activities envisaged in the notional system being defined.
  • T The ‘transformation process’. What does the system do to the inputs to convert them into the outputs.
  • W The ‘world view’ that lies behind the root definition. Putting the system into its wider context can highlight the consequences of the overall system. For example the system may be in place to assist in making the world environmentally safer, and the consequences of system failure could be significant pollution.
  • O The ‘owner(s)’ – i.e. those who have sufficient formal power over the system to stop it existing if they so wished (though they won’t usually want to do this).
  • E The ‘environmental constraints’. These include things such as ethical limits, regulations, financial constraints, resource limitations, limits set by terms of reference, and so on.

Just working through CATWOE, adding each element as you go, can lead to an unwieldy definition. It may be better to look at which are the important elements of CATWOE for any given system and use the relevant sub-set.

See also: Criteria for Idea-Finding Potential and Goal Orientation; related checklists such as Five Ws and H or Dimensional Analysis; and concepts such as the NLP ‘well-formed outcome’.

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