Effective Collaboration Requires Separating Critical and Creative Thinking

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? To help your team build ownership and collaboration at the source of your vision, learn to separate critical and creative thinking.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Hatch! by C. McNair Wilson

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. McNair Wilson, 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, issued September 2016.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

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At Chick-fil-A, HATCH Comes First – Even Before the Chicken or the Egg

At some point in the future, you will be going to a Chick-fil-A restaurant that looks and works a lot different from the one you are familiar with today. It might even have different menu items, or the food might taste a little different.

Guess what? 

The Chick-fil-A restaurant of the next decade already exists, but you will only find it inside HATCH, Chick-fil-A’s Innovation and Learning Center located on their Atlanta campus.

HATCHWelcome

I have been fortunate to be part of a group learning session at the Innovation Center. This 80,000 square foot facility located near the company’s headquarters is dedicated to helping the company invent its way forward. Inside Nest, the Pen, and other cleverly named spaces, CFA is building the next generation of customer experiences and the capabilities that make it possible.

The session gave me a front-row seat where corporate innovation is headed and allowed interaction with CFA leaders on how innovation and creativity are solidly in the center of their company culture.

Launched in late 2012, HATCH is aimed at strengthening the customer experience, the brand, and enriching the company’s culture.

HATCHLobby

In a converted warehouse, restaurant operators, researchers, designers, and staff gather to collaborate and develop whatever the Chick-fil-A brand and its customers need next. Space is divided into cleverly named work areas:

  • Feeder – cafeteria
  • Nest – learning spaces
  • Coop – working prototype restaurants
  • Incubator – collaboration area
  • Pen –  work spaces for architects and designers

This award-winning space has been purposely designed to foster the interchange of ideas and new opportunities for people who work in different areas of the company to get to know each other.

HATCH even includes a virtual simulator, which is used to very inexpensively prototype new restaurant concepts, technologies, and even kitchen operations. During my session, one of our team donned a headset and experienced the 3D world of a new store concept while the rest of us were able to observe what he was viewing on a 2D screen in the room.

VirtualReality2

 What can ChurchWorld leaders learn from Chick-fil-A and their HATCH Innovation Center?

It’s unlikely that any church would invest a fraction of the resources that Chick-fil-A has on innovation, but that doesn’t mean innovation is beyond the reach of churches.

Larry Osborne is Senior Pastor at North Coast Church near San Diego, CA. North Coast is widely recognized as one of the most influential and innovative churches in America, and Osborne’s book Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret provides a wealth of information that church leaders who want to be innovative in ministry can easily access.

Early in the book, Osborne states that many churches have a natural tendency to protect the past at the cost of the future. His solution: Find ways to identify and release the gifted innovators in your midst.

It’s like creating a mini-HATCH environment in your church.

Osborne thinks that in order to identify these types of innovators in your midst, you must first understand how they think and see the world. He has identified 3 telltale traits that set them apart from others:

  1. A special kind of insight – an uncanny knack for predicting what will work and what won’t work and how large groups of people will respond to new ideas.
  2. A unique form of courage – the ability to take carefully calculated risks by trusting their carefully crafted mental models of what could be.
  3. Extraordinary flexibility – the ability to quickly turn on a dime; a master of mid-course correction.

If you’re going to innovate in ministry, you will have to find ways to identify the fledgling innovators in your church and then find ways to support some of their seemingly crazy ideas.

Like the chicken sandwich…


 

A quick note: I will be returning to the HATCH Innovation Center in a few days as a part of a networking group learning experience. Look for an update soon!

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