Some General Observations for CEOs and Entrepreneurs

by Win Wenger, Ph.D.
Winsights No. 113 (March/April 2011)

It is almost a given that —

— other things being equal, the firm or enterprise which makes the best use of its human resources will gain compared to firms or enterprises that do not.

In the new paradigm of business, dating back to the early days of TQM and the even earlier days of profit-sharing, the realization has been spreading that —

  • If people have a stake in the outcome, they will work better toward that outcome.
  • The people on the front lines have some idea of what is going on — and not all their often-valuable information and insights get to the top in an authoritarian structure.
  • Information flows better — up, down and around — in informal and egalitarian contexts than it does in formal hierarchical arrangements.

 Realization has also been spreading that —

  • Given the right setting and/or the right techniques, just about anyone and everyone can be highly creative and ingenious.
  • There are hundreds of various techniques, now successfully in professional use around the world, for practice of deliberate creativity and ingenuity. The fact that so variously many of these actually work, and work well, suggests not so much the greatness of the techniques as it does the apparent fact that high levels of creativity and ingenuity are natural to human beings and that their apparent rarity is a cultural artifact.

Recent years have also demonstrated —

  • That each enterprise or firm is also embedded within larger sets of interests, including those of the community.
  • That life generally and especially the economy are much more a positive-sum game than a 0-sum game—we are painfully re-learning the main lesson from the Great Depression that if we shrink, or allow to shrink, the ability of your market to buy, you shrink your market. If enough of us do that, it’s a long hard slow road climbing out, if not worse. We really are in this together, win or lose.

Project Renaissance believes that enterprises which engage more of their human resources, their people, in creatively identifying and solving the challenges, problems and opportunities, very often or continuously, will tend to move ahead.

Everyone in your firm has much more—and much more of value—to contribute than he or she was hired on to do. How best to sort that into usefulness to your enterprise is one of the questions you and yours might want to address early on.

If enough people get equipped with effective techniques for identifying and solving the challenges they find around them, some of the problems solved will be the problems of common concern.

Getting creative about creativity—

If you have any good method for solving problems, one of the best problems to work it on is the problem of how to create better methods for solving problems. Among the best problems on which to use those better methods in turn is this principle of re-investing your best methods to create ever better methods. We see no end to the wonders this principle and process are bringing.

Including what we do together here this hour (and possibly what you, now reading this, do at your office), our intention is to spread ingenious, creative problem-solving techniques to as many people as possible, as widely as possible. We believe that this can eventually lead to solving many of the major unsolved and seemingly unsolvable problems of this nation and of the world, in addition to solving a plethora of corporate, local, and personal issues.

To spread such techniques more widely, we have focused for some years not only on search for ever-better solution-finding methods as per that reinvestment principle cited above. We have sought and are seeking methods which are easier to learn and understand and practice and easier to teach. We think that the easier a good method is for doing these things, the more it is likely to come into widespread practice—and the more likely it is that it will be used with increasing skill.

Where our method has gone forward best in this regard is in teaching and learning—as per Win’s very smallest book, 3 Easy Tactics To Use In Your Classroom, a possible model for others who might share this objective. As it happens, every creativity-related and problem-solving technique is also a technique to be used for improving learning and teaching, at least learning-with-understanding. Both creative solution-finding methods and methods for learning-with-understanding are techniques for figuring things out.

In today’s context of creative solution-finding, this objective—of getting great techniques simple and easy and clear enough that anyone can easily learn or self-teach and practice them to good effect and even teach them easily—this objective is still a work in progress. By the end of year 2012, we expect to publish a book which is truly a solution-finding counterpart to the 3 Easy Tactics in education.

A partial step in that direction is The Creative Problem-Solving Tool Kit. That is our current newest text of (mostly recently discovered) creative solution-finding techniques. From that we often select, at conferences, the “Windtunnel” method and experience, not only to solve some real problems but because that particular technique illustrates so well so many surprising things about human creativity… and because its practice is so energizing to its participants.

Our main text of creativity- and ingenuity-evoking methods is the aptly named book, Discovering The Obvious. Our present front-line text of mostly new and somewhat easier methods is, as mentioned above, The Creative Problem-Solving Tool Kit. And be certain to check the group-script instructions for teaching (and practicing) the Windtunnel procedure.