Bunches of Bananas and Lateral Thinking

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.

The Bunches of bananas technique is one of lateral thinking, reducing excessive left-brain attention (which may be fuelling a mind set). There are people that instinctively liven up a sluggish meeting by being provocative, or ‘throwing in a bunch of bananas’. Here are some tips:

  • Consider the mood and atmosphere: are there any signs of ‘stuckness, sluggishness, and inertia’?
  • What could you say or do to assist the group out of that state of ‘stuckness’. Create ‘bunches of bananas’ to suit your own character and style.
  • Bear in mind in mind that you are engaging in a ‘whole-brain’ activity. Just as with a comedian, it is as much the delivery as the idea, which brings about the effect.
  • If the group is inexperienced, the approach may have to be appropriately signaled: ‘I know this is going to sound a little crazy, but bear with me a minute or so. Sometime you can get out of a rut in the most unexpected ways…’
  • For example, a group wanting to market goods from the UK to Australia exhausted all the obvious possibilities and seemed to be ‘stuck’. Then someone said:
    • ‘We don’t seem to be getting very far. What I’d like to do would be to find a product that every Australian sheep would be clamouring to buy’.
      Although this comment could have been met with disapproval or polite silence, the timing of his ‘bunch of bananas’ was just right and someone picked up the idea.
    • ‘Sheep? Oh, you mean for us find large numbers of customers who can be influenced easily. Perhaps we have been concentrating too hard on too few clients’.
    • The discussion this idea triggered, eventually led to a new product being marketed to Australia.
    • ‘Bunches of bananas’ can come in a variety of forms – any well placed joke or image that captures attention when appropriate. The simple use of Random Stimuli of Various Kinds can often have the same effect.

In many ways, the actual content of the intervention is not important. It is concerned more with mood than with correctness of content, although it does involve some risk and uncertainty, as you can never foresee the consequence the intervention will have.


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