Innovation & Critical Thinking Skills

Are you solving the right problems?
Do you appropriately converge and diverge?
Do you evaluate ideas carefully and respectfully?

While the Basadur Profile and Simplexity thinking help with providing structure to innovation,  adhering to the creative and critical thinking skills outlined below will keep you on task and aligned with your team while innovating & implementing change.  

The Key Skill – Deferral of Judgment

Our first instinct, when confronted with an idea, is to judge it. This immediately reduces innovation.

With Basadur the overriding requirement is to do the opposite of judgment during creative thinking. You never know where the best ideas come from.

Between diverging and converging on ideas is a critical skill called deferral of judgment: moving away from judging or shutting down ideas to letting ideas come to light in the absence of criticism and instant over-analysis. 

The reasoning is simple: open-ended discussion, freedom of thought and successful problem-solving can only take place when people are not simultaneously forming opinions and jumping to premature conclusions.

Deferral of judgment is the clear & absolute separation of divergent & convergent thinking.

Dr. Min Basadur

“Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge”

Through separation of these two commonly practiced skills, teams will fundamentally speed up and smooth the innovation process.

Divergent thinking 
Divergent thinking involves expanding your thoughts in many different directions: searching out opportunities for change, defining problems from different angles, looking for different facts and points of view, even seeking out options and ideas when it seems none exist. It requires deferral of judgment in order to work. 

It’s applied throughout Simplexity Thinking, not just at Idea Finding or ideation stage. You can use it at Step 1 to uncover and explore new fuzzy situations, at Step 3 to define problems in different ways, at Step 8 to come up with different ways of putting a plan into action, and so on.

Convergent & critical thinking 
Quality divergent thinking must be balanced with quality convergent thinking at every step. It’s where, after a broad range of possibilities, ideas and suggestions have been generated through divergent thinking, your team comes together to carefully evaluate and decide on the best ones to take forward. 

Even though when doing it you’re narrowing and making choices, convergent thinking still requires an open-minded, non-judgmental approach. So when evaluating options and ideas, listen carefully to clarify  and respect what others are saying, and be sure to apply unbiased criteria. That way you’ll avoid decisions based on misunderstandings, assumptions, hidden motives or ego, and you’ll zero in on the options that everyone believes are really important.

A Balance Of Skills & Ideation Tools

Once you have mastered the critical skill of deferral of judgement, you have the foundation to execute on a complete set of skills to become a stronger, more collaborative, more innovative team.


    1. Ignore conformity.

    The desire to conform is strong. In a group situation the temptation is to not put yourself forward, to agree with other people’s points of view and let others monopolise the discussion. But if you do that you won’t be heard, and your team will lose an effective ideation tool and necessary part of its innovative power. The key is to disassociate your feelings from the task. Stay focused on what matters – bringing your own valuable perspective to the table.


    2. Appreciate different styles.

    With Basadur, no one person’s innovation style is more important than another. So appreciate other people’s ways of working and the value they bring. Work with them, not against them. It’s the complement of styles that gets results.


    3. Let problems be opportunities.

    When problem-finding, be positive rather than negative. By staying open-minded, you’ll find that almost everything you experience could be relevant and could lead to new opportunities. Respectfully question accepted ways of doing things, because that will get you thinking about how things might be done better or in completely new ways. Look for new problems which, by taking on, will bring out your best work.


    1. Fact Finding.

    Fact finding, is like getting organized. Before you jump in with both feet, developing a foundation of information will start you off in a much stronger direction. Here are six questions you can ask when Fact Finding. They will help you draw out quality facts that will provide a sound foundation for the rest of the innovation process

    1. What do you know, or think you know, about this fuzzy situation?
    2. What don’t you know, but would like to know?
    3. Why is this a problem for you and why can’t you make it go away?
    4. What have you thought of or tried already?
    5. If this problem were to be resolved, what would you have that you don’t have now?
    6. What might you be assuming that you don’t have to assume?

    2. Think Simple.

    You can’t solve a problem if you’re not sure what someone is talking about. So when asking each other questions, the more you can answer in fully thought-out, clear sentences, the lower the likelihood of multiple interpretations and therefore poor problem-solving. Never assume “Oh, we all know what that means.” Don’t be afraid to speak up when you’re not sure what is being said. Being patient in order to make sure everyone understands something provides solid groundwork for the rest of the innovation process.


    3. Define it right and the solutions will come.

    Defining a problem skillfully and accurately is key to innovation. So collaborate fully at problem-solving stage, be disciplined with your thinking, and take the time to fully understand what the real problem is. That will lead you to innovative solutions rather than simply points of view, entrenched opinions or ready-made answers. When you define problems right you’ll be able to view them in ways that were not apparent at first, triggering new breakthrough ideas.


    1. Go from “We can’t because…” to How might we..?

    At the Problem Definition step, a simple three-word phrase has the power to really unlock the innovation process: “How might we?” By asking it, the possibilities and opportunities are opened up, since the question invites a new, exploratory and non-judgmental approach. Importantly, it helps you realise that there’s nothing to stop your creative thinking.



    2. Tolerate ambiguity.

    Nothing is black and white. It’s perfectly possible to hold conflicting opinions, in fact it’s healthy to do so. So, aim at viewing things from every side. Consider ideas for what they can offer, not for what they don’t. That way you won’t close down your thinking.


    3. Go overboard.

    Don’t be afraid come up with extreme ideas. They may not work as is, but elements contained within them might well, and they can be adjusted (and therefore made to work) without losing their essential power. If it takes getting outside the box to arrive at workable solutions, then that alone justifies wild thinking.


    1. Generate lots of ideas.

    It’s been demonstrated that quality ideas come from quantity of ideas. The reason? Generating lots of ideas has the effect of sharpening your focus and getting your brain moving, which in itself leads to the production of inventive, creative ideas. So, take the time to generate as many options as you can, no matter which step of the Basadur process you’re working at.


    2. Give yourself time.

    Throughout the Basadur process, give yourself time. Don’t make snap decisions and harsh judgments, and give your decisions the importance they deserve. At every step, follow the 50/50 rule: devote 50% of your time to quality divergent thinking, and 50% to quality convergent thinking. 


    3. Hone and refine ideas.

    The best ideas are usually the best because they’ve been honed and refined to make them that way. So always look at making good ideas even better.


    4. Let ideas trigger new ideas.

    Just as an idea can be improved, so it can also be used as a springboard to other ideas. So let ideas trigger new thoughts and take you in new directions. Build on ideas, combine them together, look at them from different angles. 


    1. Don’t jump steps.

    Sometimes, when confronted with a problem, people jump straight to the action step. But if you do that what usually results is just more frustration, since the problem was actually just a fuzzy situation, not the real problem. When you take the time to pause and discuss the facts, you’ll define a problem very differently, leading to a universally agreed-on and successful solution. So don’t miss out steps – you’ll only waste time solving the wrong problem. The most innovative, workable solutions are achieved by moving through each step of the process from 1 – 8.


    2. Evaluate with an open mind.

    When evaluating, stay open-minded and receptive. Allow everyone equal time to share their views, explain the options they prefer, and what they consider most important and why. Listen carefully to their reasoning and ask for clarification if needed. This will avoid making decisions based on assumptions, hidden motives and ego. Make your selections only when everyone is happy their views have received a good hearing, and when agreement, consensus and commitment has been reached across the whole team.


    3. No voting.

    When evaluating options and ideas to move forward with, avoid voting. Voting immediately shuts down discussion on the actual merits of an option and prevents further constructive thinking.


    4. Always leave with a plan of action.

    It doesn’t matter how good your solutions are, if they’re not put into action they’ll count for nothing. So, never leave a meeting without a plan of action. Pin down concrete steps specifying what will be done, how it will be done, by whom, when and where. This takes away any reason not to

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