How to Separate Critical and Creative Thinking

Does your team have agreement around vision, but lack ownership and alignment?

Effective teams do not just agree on vision, they own it and align every ounce of energy and effort toward accomplishing the vision. As a leader, you can sense the difference between your team liking the vision and your team leading toward vision.

In most instances, simple agreement feels like an invisible wall sits somewhere within the team. A divide of mistrust, misunderstanding, or missed input often exists in the origination of the vision. This always leads to misalignment and missed opportunity in the execution of vision.

Every busy week brings a fresh truckload of glass bricks for your team to stack on this invisible wall. No one has ill motives. No one intends cement separation, but the walls go up without conscious notice as the pace of ministry continues.

The good news is that it’s NOT rocket science to take down a wall. Haven’t you noticed it’s easier (and usually more fun) to demolish than it is to build? What your team needs are sledgehammers to take down these hard-to-see barriers.

How do you tear down your team’s invisible walls?

Separate Critical and Creative Thinking

 

THE QUICK SUMMARY Hatch! by C. Wilson McNair

Most Corporate Brainstorming Isn’t Brainstorming… not even close. (Usually what’s going on is playful arguing with snacks on the table.)

McNair Wilson spent a decade inside Disney – mostly at Disney Imagineering designing theme parks. His teams hatched so many ideas he was invited to teach his methods through Disney University. His “7 Agreements of Brainstorming” will assist your team in launching world-class products, services, and programs. You will create competition-crushing concepts using brainstorming that works! (And you can keep the snacks on the table.)

Whatever’s next for your organization, why not make it best? HATCH! is a highly entertaining book filled with the author’s witty drawings and scores of examples of McNair’s 7 Agreements in use by big corporations and small non-profits.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The problem with brainstorming is that everyone thinks they already do it.

The reality is that nobody knows how to brainstorm anymore. It’s not your colleagues’ fault – or yours. Nobody knows how to brainstorm anymore because it is likely every model we have seen contains significant roadblocks to actual innovation.

Far too often, the “way you’ve always done it” is the wrong way – the least productive and the most frustrating.

According to former Disney Imagineer C. McNair Wilson, real brainstorming is both fun to do and very productive- all at the same time.

Done right, brainstorming produces amazing results because “we are smarter than me.”

Start your brainstorming by separating Creative Thinking and Critical Thinking.

Both must be done, but they must be done separately if anything of lasting value will be accomplished.

Creative thinking is idea generating, imagining, wondering out loud, dreaming, “what-iffing.” The decidedly different activity of Critical Thinking is not so much thinking negatively as it is thinking with analysis, focus, intentionality, and purpose.

You will have made huge strides toward powerful Creative Thinking once your team embraces and agrees to this important distinction: Creative and Critical Thinking are not part of the same activity and do not, cannot, must not occur simultaneously. It doesn’t work. They cannot occupy the same space. They are the beginning and end of the process whether it is five minutes or five months. Folding them together means doing neither activity effectively. And it is not brainstorming.

You cannot be fully, actively, creative if you are simultaneously thinking critically.

It is vital that you learn to postpone judgment, evaluation, and analysis until you and your team get everything out of your head and up on the wall. You are hatching a plan. Every chicken, eventually, leaves the egg. During Creative Thinking you are offering thought fragments, whims, notions, doodles, bits, and pieces.

The key to Creative Thinking is to learn not to care. That is to say, get to a point where you learn not to care of your ideas make sense, are possible, or if they fit into the project budget. You will care about all that later. This is true for all the ideas that flash through your mind during Creative Thinking.

Don’t deliberate, divulge.

Don’t analyze, add.

Don’t decide, confide.

Don’t edit, say it.

You cannot possibly know when a tiny, fleeting thought will be just the spark to ignite a bonfire of creativity in other team members.

C. Wilson McNair, Hatch

A NEXT STEP

Auxano developed a team collaboration tool that we use with every church team. The Collaboration Cube specifically addresses this need for separation between creative and critical thinking.

The Cube is built around the three modes of good collaboration: Blue Sky, Discuss/Challenge, and Decide/ Commit. Each mode represents the ground rules for how the team is interacting at any given time. A facilitator, team leader, or team member can use the Cube to signal a shift or recommend a change of the team’s mode.

Blue Sky mode is the classic brainstorming time where it is critical to generate a great volume of ideas while delaying judgment or critique. The basic principle of creativity is that great ideas are generated through many ideas. While many teams are familiar with the general idea of brainstorming, few practice it, because of the discipline required to suspend judgment, or Critical Thinking. Use the Cube to strengthen this mode of Creative Thinking.

Discuss/Challenge is the default mode where four Critical Thinking roles are put into play and where feedback and pushback are openly discussed. Discuss/ Challenge is the dominant mode that occurs during collaboration. Remember, each role is a default style that each team member tends to play, but during collaboration, each person can pass in and out of each role as collaboration progresses to Decide/Commit.

Decide/Commit is the mode signaled by the facilitator when moving toward a consensus decision or clarifying final action steps. In this mode a leader is able to “land the plane” on the meeting or session. This is the time when the facilitator or leader senses that enough dialogue and “ah-ha moments” have occurred to move toward a meaningful conclusion. When it comes time to Decide/Commit and you poll your team, use this definition of consensus: “Consensus is not when 80% of people feel 100% good about an idea; consensus is when 100% of the team feels 80% good about an idea.”

Visit collaborationcube.com to learn more and to purchase Cubes for your team.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 50-3.

 


 

This is part of a weekly series posting excerpts from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix book excerpts for church leaders.

SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; each solution is taken from a different book. Additionally, a practical action step is included with each solution.

As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS Remix provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

>> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix<<

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

3 Tips to Leverage Your Capacity for New Ministry Ideas

Suppose you’re invited to participate in a brainstorming session. The facilitator says that “every idea counts” and invites you to propose as many ideas as you can in the next 15 minutes. You feel rushed. You suppress ideas you think won’t get support. You narrow your own limited list of ideas, offering just a sample to the group. The facilitator posts yours and your colleagues’ ideas, inviting everyone to vote for which is best. Of course, not everyone is on board with the winning idea and while some give in, most aren’t sure about the new direction the meeting has taken.

Therein lies the rub. Our tried-and-true ideation processes can actually dampen the creativity companies are working so hard to create. To promote real innovation, we need to stop giving lip service to new thinking, get away from the need to reach consensus and instead nurture approaches that truly forge new ground.

The resistance to change and real innovation is natural. It’s driven by some deep-seated forces that we need to recognize to foster new thinking.

  • Force #1: Need for inclusion and connection: When we are brainstorming with others, the need to agree, feel included and to think the same way others do. Real innovation requires divergence and expanding our ideas into the far recesses of our brain that may be less comfortable or familiar.
  • Force #2: Being Right: Thinking the same thoughts repeatedly lulls us into a sense of comfort. Thinking we know the “correct” answer reinforces feelings of intelligence and good judgment. We may not even realize we are in a repetitive loop, or experiencing status quo thinking. Instead, we feel good that we got it right.
  • Force #3: Mental Grooves: Thinking repetitive thoughts etches “grooves” into the brain. The brain then reinforces what it knows, perhaps at the expense of what is new and novel. Along these well-trodden paths, brain structure serves to link learning to behavior in predictable ways. Yet getting into those parts of the brain forges new connections—both at the idea level and at the level of the brain tissue itself.

To up our innovation game we have to think differently. We rarely pay enough attention to leveraging our capacity to form new ideas, test, refine, and advocate for new concepts. Here are 3 tips to do just that:

>> Tip 1: Prime your brain with trigger words. We need to prime our brains to freely generate and express ideas, not suppress them. So, state the problem or challenge you are working on. Find trigger words related to your challenge to get your juices flowing. Sleep on it, watch a movie, and go to a park. Give the body something to do while the mind wanders freely. Then put yourself to work.

If you’re in a group, consider listing trigger words in two columns on a white board and asking colleagues to look for connections between the words that otherwise wouldn’t be obvious. Invite people to generate as many ideas as they can for a few minutes, and then conduct your brainstorming session with your brains primed to think differently.

Related: Break Out the Office Cake. It Could Change Your Company.

>> Tip 2: Think of the worst idea. Remove the fear of making mistakes, feeling stupid or safe or receiving negative feedback. No idea is a bad idea. In fact, research shows that what appears after ‘the worst idea’ can become a trigger for the best ideas no one has thought of before.

Related: Stop Having the Same Conversation Again and Again

>> Tip 3: Let it flow. Don’t wait for inspiration or settle for perfect solutions. Instead, generate a wealth of ideas with others. When you’re inclined to stop, or judge your ideas, keep going. Don’t get caught in your usual patterns and instead open up your mind to a ‘non-judgmental’ state where your ideas and others’ ideas can connect. If you are feeling anxious, uncomfortable, or lost in uncharted territory, know you are on the right track.

Related: Read This Before Your Next Hard Conversation

Remember: Most innovative ideas come through experimentation and discovery. Prime your brain and set the stage for the most amazing new novel and exciting ideas to emerge. In the process you’ll learn to learn to trust innovation instincts – yours and everyone else’s.

> Read more from Judith here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Judith Glaser

Judith Glaser

Judith E. Glaser is the CEO of Benchmark Communications and the chairman of The Creating WE Institute. She is the author of six books, including Creating WE (Platinum Press, 2005) and Conversational Intelligence (BiblioMotion, 2013), and a consultant to Fortune 500 companies.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.