Innovation – Creative Abrasion

Two things connected for me recently in a stars aligning kind of way. Years ago, 11 in fact, I purchased a creative abrasion training guide for my team thinking that it would a good tool when working with other teams or customers where the relationship was contentious to help us to get through combat to good ideas and solutions; creative abrasion being the ability to generate ideas through discourse and debate.  For some reason I just never got around to it, I didn’t do any work on creating a training class, and really didn’t give it much further thought.

That is until recently when going through a pile of torn out magazine page when I came across an HBR article, from June 2014 called Collective Genius. It contained a couple of diagrams illustrating what is needed to support innovation. The diagram was split into two parts: willingness and ability.  Willingness is the culture of your organization, the three aspects needed there are; your purpose, rules and values. These three combine to create a sense of community which is the foundation of your organizational innovative aptitude. Ability is the execution of innovation, the three aspects needed there are; creative abrasion, agility and resolution.

Abrasion – The ability to generate ideas through discourse and debate.

Agility – The ability to test an experiment through quick reflection and adjustment.

Resolution – The ability to make integrated decisions the combine disparate or even opposing ideas.

That really just struck a chord with me. I feel like my team has the foundation, we understand why we exist, we interact well together and are on the same page were values are concerned. Where we sometimes struggle is in this ability to generate ideas, we do have a lot of healthy debate – A LOT – and do have some discourse. We do run an Agile iterative methodology; projects and process alike, that’s our agility. Creative resolution?  That part I’m not so sure about. I feel like it’s almost there, perhaps we wear ourselves out with the talking and quickly settle on the most obvious solutions.

In looking at our development for 2015, innovation needs to be at the forefront. We’re great at what we do but getting more involved in the solution development from a product perspective and also looking inwardly at expanding our current products into the predictive analytics arena. I can’t think of a better way to start than this whole creative abrasion guide to include all these aspects from the HBR article and walking my team through the process of becoming more innovative.

Typically it takes me two or three months to develop a new training idea and turn it into on something concrete that I can actually deliver. Hopefully this one will be easier with the guide. I will post the finished product and discuss it in greater detail when it’s ready to implement. If you have any resources on resolution, I’d love to hear more.


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