Creativity Skills PDF Print E-mail

July 2009 - The FoCuSeD™ Facilitator eNewsletter


Creativity Skills | Gary Rush Facilitation

Creativity is the engine of innovation. Creativity is generating something new, surprising, unusual, novel, or original that solves the problem, is useful and meaningful. Creativity can be introduced to participants through process and exercises. To do this, you must first understand the skills needed:


  • Fluency – lots of ideas
  • Flexibility – many different kinds of ideas
  • Originality – uniqueness of the ideas
  • Elaboration – developing the ideas




Fluency is what Alex Osborn developed with brainstorming. Clearly separate ideation (the generation of ideas) from evaluation (narrowing and analyzing the ideas). The trick to engaging participants and making them fluent is to define and enforce rules of ideation that encourage fluency – i.e., lots of ideas.


  • Brainstorming – helps fluency by following ground rules during listing.
  • Cognitivity – helps fluency by accepting all ideas – new and old.
  • Creativity Breaks – helps fluency by tapping a different way of thinking.


Fluency requires P.T.S/P.T.F. (Permission to Suck / Permission to Fail). Organizations need to adopt the concept that all ideas are needed – the good, the bad, and the ugly and that people need permission to fail. The following tips come from Improvisation and help build fluency:


  • Stay in the moment
  • Suspend judgment – P.T.S.
  • Accept the offer – don’t block
  • Know how to Follow
  • Build on/out ideas – “Yes and…”


“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison




Flexibility is the ability to generate different kinds of ideas. Repeating the same idea, with only slight differences, doesn’t help creativity as much as generating different kinds of ideas. Ways to help increase flexibility are:


  • Cognitivity – helps look at the common in an uncommon way.
  • Creativity Breaks – helps to use a different learning style to bring out ideas.
  • “What if…” – this powerful question helps change paradigms.


“When people think about creativity, they think about artistic work – unbridled, unguided effort that leads to beautiful effect. But if you look deeper, you'll find that some of the most inspiring art forms, such as haikus, sonatas, and religious paintings, are fraught with constraints. They are beautiful because creativity triumphed over the "rules”. Constraints shape and focus problems and provide clear challenges to overcome. Creativity thrives best when constrained. But constraints must be balanced with a healthy disregard for the impossible. Too many curbs can lead to pessimism and despair. Disregarding the bounds of what we know or accept gives rise to ideas that are non-obvious, unconventional, or unexplored. The creativity realized in this balance between constraint and disregard for the impossible is fueled by passion and leads to revolutionary change.” – Marissa Ann Mayer – VP Search Products and User Experience at Google published in Business Week, February 13, 2006.


As a Facilitator, establishing constraints, in the form of visual aids, mediums to work in, etc., you help participants to be creative. Using a variety of visual aids and exercises in the workshop helps to bring in multiple intelligences (visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intra-personal). Engaging the different ways people think and learn helps bring out a variety of ideas. Examples are:


  • Role playing exercises – can affect all intelligences depending on how you structure it.
  • Musical Chairs – affects bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.
  • Post-its and other colorful visual aids – affect visual-spatial intelligence.
  • Creative Introductions – can affect both interpersonal and intra-personal intelligences.
  • Building structures – affects visual-spatial and bodily-kinesthetic intelligences.
  • Creativity Breaks – affects visual-spatial intelligence.




Originality is about uniqueness of ideas. In generating ideas, using tools such as Cognitivity help stimulate new ideas. In analysis of the ideas, using tools such as Affinity Diagramming and Mind-Mapping help synthesize similar or related ideas into one unique idea. Questions, such as, “Why not…?” help in assessing ideas without dismissing those that are unique and original.




Elaboration is about how well you can develop an idea. Questions, such as, “Why not…?” and “What if…?” help get participants to fully describe their ideas and flush out gaps and inconsistencies. Be very clear on what the final result is to look like – define this before the workshop and ensure that it is something that can be taken further. Participants need to be able to take an idea and turn it into an actionable solution, product, etc.




The skills needed by the Facilitator enables the Participants to use these skills through the processes and workshop environment they bring. logo


“If everybody is thinking the same thing, nobody is thinking.” – General George Patton