Greeting Cards – How to create your own Problem solving Environment

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.

Greeting Cards
Prior to introducing a group to a problem the Greeting card method invites the group to create their own stimulating problem solving environment. A sense of comradeship is thus introduced and a feeling of ownership and involvement in the problem solving is experienced. This technique was created by James Pickens in 1981 and described by Arthur VanGundy in the first edition of his book, Techniques of Structured problem solving.

Developing the environment

  • The supervisor encourages the participants to produce some motivational objects that will be of use in problem solving.
  • Split the main group into sub-groups of 4-5 individuals equipped with paste, scissors, magazines, illustrated catalogues, thick A3 or A4 paper, and felt-tipped pens.
  • Members of the sub-group browse their catalogues and magazines, cutting out at least 10 pictures of interest and relevance.
  • Together or individually the sub-group member create several greetings cards (or ‘stimulus cards’) sticking pictures, collage-style on A3 or A4 sheets that are folded thus that they function as greetings cards. They then add their own ‘greetings-card’ style message.
  • Each sub-group displays their greeting cards to other sub-groups.

Using it in problem-solving

  • A problem is put on view and deliberated by the sub-group members.
  • Participants use the images on their cards to generate ideas to decipher the problem
  • Time permitting, each sub-group passes its cards to the next sub-group and repeats step 2. This can be done several times if necessary.
  • All the ideas are gathered and appraised in any appropriate way.
  • It is essential participants are not aware the nature of the problem prior to the problem solving session. If participants feel uneasy about the ‘childish’ activity of making greetings cards, portray it as ‘assembling stimulus objects’.

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