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Monday, 02 September 2013 22:45

Creativity Live: Synectics in action

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Our Creativity Live Synectics experiment is now concluded - have a look below to see how Synectics works and see how it helped our problem owner, Denise Salmon...

How it worked

We had an opportunity for readers to apply their creative problem-solving abilities to a real live problem. Denise Salmon from Jamaica agreed to present her problem as ‘Problem Owner’ and we asked readers to act as resources/helpers by contributing their thoughts under the ‘suspend judgement’ convention.

In the first phase, we opened up the Problem to new ways of looking at it, including alternative perceptions of the problem, goals, wishes, metaphors as well as practical ideas (we use the generic label ‘Springboards’ for these contributions). Because we are suspending judgement, there are no restrictions on what can be offered and limit to the quantity – 'quantity breeds quality'.

In the second phase, we asked Denise to select any contributions she found interesting or appealing and then we tried to develop them into feasible courses of action that she was able and willing to implement. You can see her selections below (following the Springboards).

Denise’s Briefing is set out below.  In Phase 1 we asked our readers to read it with an open mind and let it trigger thoughts, associations, images, metaphors, noting them as they read. They then made connections between their thoughts and Denise’s problem and submitted them, in the form of a short one-sentence headline, followed by a little elaboration (not letting the format inhibit their contributions).

Vincent

Problem Owner’s Briefing

Task Headline

How to find new ways to help children in Jamaica take care of the environment

How it’s a problem for the problem owner

My country’s prosperity matters to me because I would like to be able to live a comfortable life without feeling the need to migrate. So I have been paying attention to the youth and how they feel about the country, if they would want to leave and go somewhere else to live. And a lot of them say they would like to leave.

What she has tried and thought of

I wrote the first children's book about the beautiful places and great things about the island, hoping that they can begin to see why our visitors like to visit, and maybe they would start appreciating what they have. I think a higher appreciation of what we have is a good place for us to start. Because we will not be able to use what we have well if we don't value it.

Power to act

I can write and publish and also speak on air. I needed more funding for the promotion of the book; it did not do that well without it. But I am hoping they will be using it in the schools here soon. The Ministry of Education will be reviewing it soon I hope.

Ideal solution

I wish I had enough money to promote the published books and publish all the other 9 books I have written for the children.

Denise

 

Springboards

Listed below are all the ideas submitted by readers. The next stage will be for Denise to select the ones she finds most appealing.

  1. I wish Denise could engage a group of young people (from a school, perhaps) in some sort of environmental project and produce a report with their words and pictures.
  2. I wish each tourist would buy a book for a local child.I wish the children could see through the eyes of visiting tourists.
  3. I wish they could find new ways to use trash eg build a shelter using bottles for walls, make crisp bag jewellery to sell.
  4. I wish environmental projects were like a funfair.
  5. I wish they could be a fly on the wall in other countries with similar issues.
  6. I wish each child had a personal environmental project to take pride in.
  7. I wish Denise can arrange a photo competition for youth about the beauties of Jamaica.
  8. I wish she can write a popular song about the environment with young people.
  9. I wish Denise could get young folks to design and run a Facebook page about what they love in Jamaica. They can invite friends to join and raise consciousness.
  10. I wish Denise could design a fun APP about environment that young people will enjoy. Background - We need to use modern tools to get messages through to young people.
  11. I associate Jamaica with music and dance - use their idiom.
  12. Nowadays most people have cameras on their cellphones, so they could have a fun competition and build collages of beauty.
  13. I wish Denise could write a story about the creatures who live in that environment and how their lives are affected by events.
  14. I wish rainbows could glow at night - Background - Youth and environment made me think of colours, rainbows, rainbow nation - so nature could be as exciting as disco.
  15. The book idea reminded me of this website www.dot-to-dot-books.org/shop/sam-learns-a-lesson-tanzania/ which was illustrated by one of our other journal contibutors, Dinesh Revankar. The organisation finds sponsors for the books, which are written and illustrated by local people and then sold internationally with a share of profits donated to a community project in the original country. This might be a model that could be adapted by Denise, or she could approach them directly.
  16. I wish the children of Jamaica all had a dream the same night which showed them the special qualities of the island and filled them with an unstoppable urge to be warriors in the morning, bringing their ideas into schools and forming action groups to spread their enthusiasm and joyful pride in Jamaica.
  17. I wish Denise could enlist the help of Ringo Starr's Octopus.
  18. I wish the children could see through the eyes of the creatures and hear through the roots of the trees.
  19. How to have schools compete to illustrate the stories in song, dance, costume, puppets, winning entry gets made into DVD and put on youtube?
  20. How to have students/children create the music for the song?
    Denise comments: The book I did about the turtle could be used as a song, because the story has a lot of rhymes. I like that idea. But I am wondering how I could find some musicians soon. I'll let you know.
  21. I wish Denise could link with Jamaican academics who would work with her.
  22. Could Denise connect with other adults with similar goals and form an action group?
  23. Could Denise work with a group of children and a geographer, marine biologist or other scientist to produce a nature newsletter for other children to read?
  24. Could Denise contact a school or university academic interested in working with children to form a nature club and she could report on its activities?
  25. I wish one of the big tourism companies which operates in Jamaica would sponsor Denise's project, it would be good PR for them too.
  26. Could Denise publish the unpublished books as a Kindle or e-book? Should not be too expensive if they already exist in digital form.
  27. How to get the Tourist Board to sponsor/fund Denise's work?
  28. How to train young people as Environmental Guides for Tourists?

Selection

Selection is entirely the responsibility of Denise as Problem Owner. Vincent asked her to do two things:

1. Identify any of the contributions she likes and is able to act upon, and tell us what her Next Steps will be. There may not be any which fall into this category (the process was not intended to produce instant new solutions).

2. Identify any contributions she likes or finds appealing/intriguing at some level, but does not see a way to act upon. These are the seeds of possible breakthrough solutions.

Denise likes the idea of publishing her book as an ebook with Kindle. As she has two books about the environment, the first one can be used to test that system and see if it works well. So this is an idea she is able to act upon and does not need further development by the group. However, if anyone has experience of publishing e-books with Kindle, Denise would welcome advice on getting illustrations done and on financing the project. If you are able to help, please get in touch with her direct This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

She also likes the idea of getting the books to be accepted in schools (she says 'that could be close, by the end of next month - the first book that I tried to get into the school here is still being reviewed.') She would like ideas on how to get the teachers to help.

She also likes the idea of a song with music, with the words of the story as suggested on the site. She needs help to find suitable musicians.

Her Action Plan so far is to start with e books until the school accepts the first book.

She would like ideas on how to move on from there.

Actionable Ideas

Please add any ideas you have to help Denise to put her plans into action. You can leave these as Comments below or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to us to be added anonymously.

  • Denise could devise a few Lesson Plans based on the book to encourage the teachers to use it.
  • Invite the illustrator to share the proceeds of the sales, with a royalty (could be a 50/50 deal) instead of an up-front fee.
  • Suggestions on music:
  • Use Harry Belafonte-type music - if he's still alive, see if he will be patron of your project
  • Go to a music school and ask them to give assignment to students to come up with song based on your text / libretto
  • Ask radio or TV station for advice, to link your song to one of their "green" programmes
  • Invite teenagers to write words and / or song
  • Use steel drums as symbol of recycling

Conclusion

Denise, the Problem Owner, writes:

I would like to thank the Community for the very useful comments that were posted on the Creativity Journal website. They have helped me to be able to move forward with this huge project that I have started.

I have started writing articles for www.my-island-jamaica.com recently, and they are now having a photo contest as it was suggested in one of the comments.

The person in charge of doing the reviews at the Ministry of Education here in Jamaica asked me to call him at the end of this month as he should be able to tell me at that time if the first book will be accepted by the Ministry, so it can be used in schools. This book was written about our beautiful attractions in Ocho Rios as I am hoping the children who read it will understand how much we benefit from taking care of the environment.

The book can also be read by other children as it is filled with fun activities and it is already available on www.thingsjamaicanshopping.com and www.amazon.com.

I have also decided on a catchy little tune for the chorus of the song as I have been able to meet with the drummer who is helping me to put the music together as I work towards having CDs to go along with the books (this was also another suggestion).

I have been learning more about marketing and publishing on Amazon. And I have contacted an author marketing company who will be helping me to use a website and videos as marketing tools.

Denise also says 'I am hoping we can continue working together until the project is complete'. Although this is beyond the scope of the Synectics process, as she has now moved from the ideas to the implementation stage, if any of the contributors would like to continue working with Denise, please contact her direct at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We wish Denise the best of luck with her project and look forward to hearing how her plans progress.

We would also like to thank Vincent Nolan for his facilititation of the Synectics process. We hope you have found this live example helpful and will be featuring more creative challenges soon. If you have a problem that you 'own', and you would like to draw on the help of our international readers, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 
Selection
 
Denise likes the idea of publishing her book as an ebook with Kindle. As she has 2 books about the environment, the first one can be used to test that system and see if it works well. So this is an idea she is able to act upon and does not need further development by the group. However, if anyone has experience of publishing e-books with Kindle, Denise would welcome advice on getting illustrations done and on financing the project. If you are able to help, please get in touch with her direct at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

She also likes the idea of getting the books to be accepted in schools (she says  "that could be close, by the end of next month - the first book that I tried to get into the school here is still being reviewed.") She would like ideas on how to get the teachers to help
 
She also likes liked the idea of a song with music, with the words of the story as suggested on the site. She needs help to find suitable musicians. 
 
Her Action Plan so far is to start with e books until the school accepts the first book. 
She would like ideas on how to move on from there.
Last modified on Monday, 02 September 2013 22:58
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