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Running A Creativity Session

2015 February 24
by Prosperos World
Blue Sky

Outline Process


Always set up a creative session using focus – with what do we want to end up at the completion of our thinking

There are two approaches to focus:

  1. Purpose Focus – has a specific end purpose
    g. how can we improve something, how can we speed something up etc.
  2. Area Focus – we explore the topic before we judge it
    g. we might look at communication, meetings, safety – with no specific purpose

Once we have defined a focus we can redefine the focus in order to give us a new angle on our problem solving:

e.g. here are several alternate definitions of a parking problem:

  • the car park is too small
  • too many people want to use the car park
  • too many people drive to work
  • people complain about the small car park

Traditional Brainstorm:

Take a focus and brainstorm to pull out all current ideas – no bad ideas, give encouragement

Technique 1 – Random Word:

Use random word to generate further ideas:

Getting the random word – glance at the position of the second hand of a watch.  Take the number, e.g. 32, and select the word the third line down and second noun in from a book or newspaper

Using the random word – take the word and extract an association, function, activity from the word and generate new ideas about the focus


e.g.      Focus              Random Word            Association                  New Idea

Camera           Gun                             Westerns

= sand                         sand proof camera


NB       work individually first and then share output

Things to avoid:

  • Don’t wait for the perfect random word
  • Don’t list all the attributes first
  • Don’t make too many jumps
  • Don’t link your ideas to random output

Technique 2 – Challenge:

Technique 1 will generate a host of ideas

In order to generate broader thinking the challenge technique can be used

Challenge can be introduced at any stage; i.e. this could be the first technique used during a session.

Establish current thinking on the focus – this is achieved using the following five categories:

CATEGORY                          AIRLINE

Dominant ideas                       Make money flying planes with people/cargo on board

Boundaries                              Airports/technology/national agreements etc

Assumptions                           Increasing airline congestion/growth of holidays etc

Essential Factors                    Safety

Avoidance Factors                 Overcapacity/security worries/unused planes etc

Use challenge technique on current thinking:

Why Cut:                  Does this need to be done at all; remove the item and run the thinking forward and see if this cut can be implemented

Why Because:         If you can’t cut the item then challenge the validity of the reasons why it is done that way.  Can you satisfy the focus in another way, or escape the process; i.e. revise the way things are done

Why Alternatives:    Both Why C and Why B will often to lead to the generation of alternative ideas and approaches


Along with Focus this is the weakest part of all creativity sessions

Take all of the ideas generated and put them onto Post It notes

Group the ideas by category (e.g. themes/events/structures etc.) and number each idea according to its category

Position all the ideas onto a capability/impact matrix.

Select the ideas with greatest potential for further screening.

The Importance of Focus in Creativity

2015 February 23
by Prosperos World

Why Focus Is Important

Creativity gets a bad name because creative thinkers tend to provide good ideas on all

problems except the ones they have actually been asked to think about.  This happens for two reasons:

  1. The idea that simply messing about will hopefully produce a new idea
  2. Focus is insufficiently emphasised

Focus Is One Of Three Creative Disciplines

  1. Discipline of focus: being very clear as to what you are thinking about
  2. Discipline of technique: knowing exactly what you are trying to do at any one moment
  3. Discipline of time: setting time guidelines

Types Of Focus

There are two types of focus to think about in creative terms:

  1. Area focus – “where”
  2. Task focus – “why”

Slow Down, It’s The Weekend

2015 February 6
by Prosperos World

Prince Ea has a point, how about unplugging for the weekend, just to see how it goes?

The Participant’s Guide To A Better Training Experience

2015 February 2
by Prosperos World

A quick guide to getting the most from your upcoming training course …


Superbowl Ads, Without The Pesky “Football”

2015 January 31

For many people it’s the ads that make the SuperBowl special, well, the ads and the snacks.  So if you want to save time to build and demolish your Snack Stadium, then watch a few ads ahead of time.  Here’s some of our favourites:

The inspiring story of Amy Purdy played under an inspirational soundtrack of Muhammed Ali is a real treat, though completely disconnected from the Toyota in the ad.  Never mind, you can’t buy it in Europe anyway.

Pierce Brosnan manages to be British, without being evil on American TV.  It’s OK though, he’s self deprecating and immaculately dressed:

For those of you old enough to remember having to get your head around what the internet and email were, you’ll enjoy Katie Couric having fun with the now infamous clip of her trying to understand both, and what that funny little @ sign was for, as she rides in a new-fangled BMW – how do you get a wind powered car anyway?

Mercedes Benz play with the Hare and the Tortoise theme, and Lexus choose a STOMP approach.  Car ads are strange.

McDonalds ups the schmaltz with a family based ad around “Pay With Love”, it may have been secretly underwritten by Kleenex:

Keep those Kleenex handy, you may need them for Dove’s “Daddy” advert, or the next installment in the Budweiser Clydesdales and puppy commercial.

Snickers carry on their “Not you when you’re hungry” idea, but if you didn’t grow up with the Brady Bunch, it won’t hit the spot.  If puppies and cuteness really aren’t your thing then watch the ad GoDaddy won’t be showing for a more dystopic world view.

It’s not all shameless commerce. Given NFL players reputations off the field, the public service announcement that viewers will see is challenging, but well worth a watch:

We’ll leave you to discover the Kim Kardashian one on your own.

The Dreaded Cold Call

2015 January 26
tags: ,
by Prosperos World

Even if you are good at selling in a face-to-face situation, using the telephone for a introductory call needs additional, different skills.  Known techniques must be applied in a new way.  If you normally work in an office in a sales function, you may not see yourself as a salesperson.  For you to make an introductory sales call you also need additional different skills.

Concentrate  on doing the job professionally by:

  • Doing an amount of simple research.  Have an idea of what they do.  That will give you an insight into their likely problems.
  • Getting the name of the buyer. During the call use it.
  • Holding fire until you speak to the buyer. You will get nowhere trying to sell to those with no need or buying power.
  • Giving brief details of your company – and showing that you know about theirs.
  • Collecting and recording information about their present situation. To do so avoid asking closed questions which result in yes/no answers.  Use open questions.  Those are questions which contain the words why, what, where, when, which, or how.  That way you will be given more information.
  • Exploring past problems and future worries.
  • Underlining Benefits – what’s in it for them if they buy from you?
  • Finishing with an order or a commitment to the next step – for example an appointment for a salesperson to call.
  • If possible get an order number.

Do these things and your cold calls can be more effective.  Don’t – and you’ll be wasting your time and everyone else’s.

To make effective introductory sales calls on the telephone avoid:

  • Rushing into the call without preparation
  • Trying to sell to the wrong person – assistants, interns, etc.
  • Wasting time with irrelevant chit-chat
  • Making no notes of the call and its contents
  • Asking questions which call only for a yes/no answer
  • Running down their existing supplier
  • Failing to convert interest into an order or other form of commitment
  • Not tailoring the information you give to the person to whom you are talking
  • Inviting rejection
  • Rushing into your sales pitch

A Fresh Approach To Complaint Handling

2015 January 23
by Prosperos World
Tule Lake Relocation Center, Newell, Californi...

A complaint is filed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is a standard procedure for handling a complaint:

  • Show sympathy but only for the fact the customer is upset. Do not apologise for the complaint itself until you know it is your fault
  • “I’m sorry you are upset, tell me what the problem is”
  • Listen – do not interrupt let the person get it off their chest
  • Ask questions – open (what, when, where, how, who, why) not closed (Yes or No)
  • Establish the facts. Do not make excuses or justify why
  • Agree a course of action that is acceptable to you and the customer
  • Make sure the action is carried out
  • Keep the customer informed
  • Complete the complaint paperwork and return it to the correct department

When dealing with complaints be solution minded, do not say what you cannot do, tell the customer what you are going to do.

Own the problem – do not pass it on.

A  dissatisfied customer tells 11-13 people about the way they feel; whilst every happy customer only tells 3.

In the UK people complain with their feet.  Having no complaining customers does not mean all your customers are happy.  It means things are not quite bad enough, yet.

Research conducted by McGraw-Hill revealed that the reason why 68% of customers changed suppliers was nothing to do with the quality of product or service.  It was because the customers felt:  “The company did not seem to care and did not communicate with me”

The way you handle unhappy customers should not be seen as a separate ‘problem’ area.  The complaint handling procedure should be laid down and worked out with clear reporting and feedback systems.

A Complaint Handling System

The system should reveal:

  • How many complaints
  • Nature of complaint
  • Justified or not
  • Was the complaint product centred (material service) or person centred (personal service)
  • proposed action
  • customer attitude post-complaint handling

Many customers see the way you handle a complaint as the test of your commitment to the things you practice and preach about customer care.

Terminology is very important in the way you (a) handle complaints and (b) the way complaints are treated inside your organisation.  See complaint handling form as an example of turning a complaint (problem) into action (opportunity).


Building a Picture Over the Phone

2015 January 22
by Prosperos World
"Kellogg" brand "candle stick&q...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Business can be easily won on the telephone – or more easily lost through bad telephone manner or technique.  Remember that people form a PICTURE of us simply from how we sound on the telephone so make that picture a positive one!

Try telephoning a few of your competitors with an enquiry. Most of them will sound and behave about the same as you do.

Think of how much more business you could get by being better on the telephone than all your competitors:


Pitch Of Voice: excitement or annoyance can make your voice higher and often louder.  This can cause distortion and grate on the nerves of your listener.  The deeper sounds of most people’s voices are generally more suited to the telephone – so try to pitch your voice in the lower range.


Inflection: Your voice should ‘rise’ on a question and ‘fall’ at the end of a sentence.  This helps understanding and gives texture to your voice, also try stressing different words of sentence “I never said he stole that money”


Clarity: Whatever you say – it must be said clearly.  Good diction and proper articulation are essential.  However loudly you speak, a word will be difficult to understand unless you pronounce it properly.  It helps, too, if you hold the receiver in the right place!


Tone: aim to mirror (not mimic!) the tone of the customer – If it is at all appropriate to do so, smile.  This will help to give your manner the warmth needed to be effective in telephone selling.  At the very least, you should always ‘think a smile’.


Understand: or appreciate their point of view/circumstances, also check for your understanding, repeat back, summarise, confirm Spelling of names or difficult words can often be of vital importance.
The following identifying of letters is used by police etc:
Alpha Echo India Mike Quebec Uniform Yankee
Bravo Foxtrot Juliet November Romeo Victor Zulu
Charlie Golf Kilo Oscar Sierra Whiskey
Delta Hotel Lima Papa Tango X-Ray


Rate Of Speaking: Unless your speech is naturally on the slow side, it is best to consciously slow down the pace at which you talk.  This will enable you to articulate more clearly; it helps the person who is not familiar with your voice; it calms down the person who is upset or irritated or domineering; it gives you more time to think and you don’t sound so excitable!


Enthusiasm:  If you speak in a colourless way – nothing stands out and the impact of what you say is lost.  Your voice should have ‘light and shade’ in it.  Make your conversation sound more interesting by giving extra emphasis to the more important words and phrases.  Allow for lack of visual impact
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