Creative Thinking Tools for Business | Divergent Thinking Toolkit | Jon Williams | Skillshare

Creative Thinking Tools for Business | Divergent Thinking Toolkit

Jon Williams, To Teach is to Learn Twice

Creative Thinking Tools for Business | Divergent Thinking Toolkit

Jon Williams, To Teach is to Learn Twice

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15 Lessons (1h 11m)
    • 1. Course Introduction

      2:15
    • 2. Is Creativity a Talent or a Skill

      4:04
    • 3. The 4-Ps of Creativity

      1:13
    • 4. Creative People

      4:11
    • 5. How Creative Are You

      9:38
    • 6. Creative Places

      6:41
    • 7. Creative Processes & Divergent Thinking Tool 1 - Starburst

      3:46
    • 8. Divergent Thinking Tool 2 - Reverse Thinking

      4:15
    • 9. Creative Products

      1:47
    • 10. Case Study Brief

      3:56
    • 11. Case Study Analysis

      3:16
    • 12. Case Study Task - Divergent Thinking Tools in Action

      4:27
    • 13. Case Study Task - Convergent Thinking Step

      12:03
    • 14. Case Study Task - Report and Conclusion

      7:27
    • 15. Project and Outro

      2:06
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About This Class

As a Business English Teacher, I have taught this exact business case many times in companies here in Poland and also at the University of Economics in Katowice where I also teach Business English. 

When we talk about creative thinking, a few things come to mind such as brainstorming, creative writing, and other forms of creative output. There's so much more to creative thinking than just being able to brainstorm to come up with ideas.

Creative thinking is a skill which if accompanied by a growth mindset, can be a powerful problem solving tool that you can use at will. And we can teach ourselves this skill by deploying a couple of useful tools to help focus your thinking in the right direction - on Divergent Thinking.

If you're looking to build up your creative thinking for business skills, then this is the right course for you. 

See you in the first lecture!

Meet Your Teacher

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Jon Williams

To Teach is to Learn Twice

Teacher

Hi, I'm Jon Williams and in one way or another, I've been teaching my whole life. For the past 10 years, I have been teaching English and Business English as a native speaker in Poland. I have my own private teaching business, and it gives me so much joy and pride to see my students always making progress.

One of my most important values is innovation. I'm always looking for ways to improve on what I'm doing. So several years ago, I started incorporating digital technology in my classroom (private office) and taking it with me on in-company lessons, and at the university where I teach. 

I believe that we live in a digital world, where more and more learners appreciate being able to engage in the topics they learn in a visual way. That is why I am a big fan of using Mi... See full profile

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Transcripts

1. Course Introduction: Hi, and welcome to my course, creative thinking, tools for business. My name is Don Williams and I'm a Business English teacher living here in Poland. And that means I've taught and countless number of companies and also in the local university of economics. And one of my favorite topics is the topic of creativity. That was, I'm going to share with you in this course. So when we think about business, well, what is a business? It's an entity whereby they promote goods and services that people find useful. Well, what is creativity? Creativity is a way of thinking that promotes new ideas, new products, new things that people will find useful. So creativity definitely has a place in business. And with this course, we're going to learn about the four P's of creativity. That's creative people, creative places, creative processes and creative products. And specifically of the four Ps, creative people, are you creative? Is it a talent or is it a skill? Well, it really doesn't matter. In this course, we're going to show you why that is a talent and what the right types of tools you can call on this talent almost at will to solve any problem, to come up with new ideas, to brainstorm usefully, we're gonna provide you with a couple of tools that help you do that. Now, also, when we talk about creative products, we're going to use a case study to practice these creative thinking tools that I'm going to give you to come up with a creative output. So I hope you enjoy the course. And I look to see you inside the first lecture. 2. Is Creativity a Talent or a Skill: To begin this course, I'm going to start with an either or question. Do you believe that creativity is either a talent or is it a skill? Well, if you're already thinking outside the box, you will already have noticed the box. I neatly placed around the starter question. An either or question is a closed question and is not at all conducive to creative thinking. I'll allude to the answer by reading you an excerpt taken from the Maxwell daily reader by John C Maxwell. A traveler nearing a great city, asked an old man, seated by the road. What are that people like in this city? To which demand asked and return. Well, what were they like where you came from? Horrible to traveler reported mean, untrustworthy, detestable in all respects. Said The old man. You will find them the same in this city ahead. Shortly had this first traveler gone on his way when another stop to inquire about the people in the city before him. Again, the old man asked about the people in the place to traveller had just come from. They were fine people, honest, industrious, and generous to a fault, declared this second traveler. I was truly sorry to leave. The old man responded. That's exactly how you find the people here. The moral of the story is the way people see others is a reflection of the way they see themselves. If you don't see yourself as creative, naturally, it must be a talent and one that you don't possess. However, if you see yourself as creative, that anybody can be creative because you are. There's a third type who sees themselves as a can-do type with a growth mindset and will attempt to learn anything including being creative. So as I have learned to be creative, so can you. And then one might ask, well, which is better, which makes you more successful? I'll answer. What's another anecdote from the Maxwell daily reader? Too many talented people who start with an advantage over others lose that advantage because they rest on their talent instead of raising it, they assume that talent alone will keep them up front. They don't realize the truths. If they'd merely winging it, others will soon fly past them. Talent is more common than they think. Mega bestselling author Stephen King asserted that talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work. Clearly, more than just talent is needed for anyone who wants to achieve success. Whether you are a talented or skilled, or you aim to develop the skill. Creativity requires a growth mindset. And if you are talented, you should strive to hone your talents and skills to be more effective. If you are not talented, you can become skilled with the help of a few handy tools, tools that this course aims to provide you. 3. The 4-Ps of Creativity: Professor and author, Dr. Jane Henry published her book, Creative Management was contains a collection of articles and essays examining the nature of creativity and how it relates to business and management. A redo, one such essayed in different parts about the four P's of creativity. Creativity is about the quality of originality that leads to new ways of seeing and new ideas. It is a thinking process associated with the imagination, invention, and innovation. However, creativity is not just about an idea that is new and different. For an idea to be truly creative, it must also be appropriate and useful. A number of commentators have founded convenient to distinguish between creative people, creative processes, creative places, and creative products. These are the four P's of creativity. 4. Creative People: Continuing on from the essay, let's examine the idea of creative people. Considerable energy and research has gone into trying to work out the characteristics of creative individuals. Three broad types have been identified. Creative people, innovators and entrepreneurs. Creative people are usually seen as those who generate ideas. Innovators, as those who take an idea and develop it into something real, such as a product, service, or a business process. And entrepreneurs are those who take that product, service or business process to market or implement a process and make it a commercial success. Studies and creative people show characteristics such as independent thinking, resistance to peer pressure, good verbal communication skills, and a reasonable level of intelligence. Creatives also appear comfortable with risk-taking and are open to new ideas. Above all, creative people are said to be better at asking the right questions. Now, before we continue, Let's just take a moment to compare, contrast a bit further with the three types of creative individuals. When you think about it. The first type of creative as an ideas person often isn't a finisher. How often do we see in a creative? Or you might see this in yourself. A person who goes from idea to idea without ever really finishing the idea before. As a creative, the enthusiasm rests in the idea. However, once we start to wade deep into the details, bogs us down and we lose momentum. Eventually. That next idea comes up in our attention turns to it. We are reinvigorated and we go off chasing after the next one. The innovator really picks up where the creative leaves off. The innovator can finish this idea and turn it into a product, service, or business process. But he then balks at the idea that he'll have to go out and sell this idea, product, service or process to others. This product service or process that process, genius and it really should sell itself. He says, that is where the entrepreneur comes into play. If you have this triangle complete in a team, you have a powerful combination of complimentary skills. However, they must complement each other and stages and not get in each other's way. This begs the question, what about the solo printer? Must this person encompass all three traits? And if he or she does not, are they doomed to fail? This is worth a growth mindset comes into play. For the solo Brunner, who is a creative and not an innovator, he must learn the appropriate workflow and process to bring the idea into a finished project. Furthermore, he or she must then learn how to take his or her finished project and then marketing. It takes every limitless perseverance to keep overcoming these obstacles of know-how. But be relentless. You must. So how creative are you? What's your approach to creative processes? 5. How Creative Are You: This lecture, we'll go through some statements of self-reflection and determine which areas you are or could be strong in when it comes to creativity. I would like you to evaluate each statement and do a bit of self-reflection. Think to yourself. Does this statement describe me in any way? If you have downloaded the questionnaire from the project and Resources tab, then you can go a step further and write down a note or a memory of an anecdote that illustrates your association with each statement. Firstly, I'd take the time to investigate how things are working even when there are no current problems. Next, I focus on the issues that are important right now. I'll worry about a future problems. When they arise. When gathering information about an issue, I explore solutions that have worked in the past. And if I have a problem, I allow myself to back off active problem-solving. I've tried to create some mental distance between myself and the issue. Next. I always look for the causes of problems so that I can understand what's really going on. And when I'm coming up with ideas, I find myself using words like can't and don't. As soon as I have a good idea, I move forward with implementation. And what I'm coming up with ideas. I evaluate them quickly and ignored the ones I don't like. Next, I often ignore good ideas because I don't have the resources I need to put them into action. And finally, creative people should specialize and coming up with lots of ideas. While other people should implement these. In Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi book, Creativity, Flow and the Psychology of discovery and invention. The author asserts that effective creative processes usually consists of five steps. These are preparation, becoming immersed in issues that are interesting and arouse curiosity. Incubation, allowing ideas to turn around in your mind without consciously thinking about them. Insight, experiencing the moment when the problem makes sense. Evaluation, performing a kind of cost benefit analysis of the insight and whether it's feasible to implement. And finally, elaboration, creating a plan to implement the solution and follow through. The first three statements of the questionnaire are attributed to preparation. First, by understanding how things work and learning multiple perspectives, creatives can constantly scan for potential problems or bottlenecks. They don't usually let problems arise or persist. A noticed, it bothers down. And so they take action, thinking about it, immersing themselves in their problem. Additionally, creatives tend to keep their focus on the present, preferring to cross the future problem bridge when they get there. Just because you're a creative, doesn't mean you ought to go out and reinvent the wheel every time a problem arises. By looking back at what might have worked in the past gives you insight as to how you might approach this new issue in the same or even a different way. This is the ground for innovation. The fourth statement, attributes to incubation and getting distance from an active issue. You allow your mind to subconsciously turned it over. Oftentimes, in your separation from the issue, it becomes more and more clear over time. And when you come back to the issue, you are more ready to discuss it or solve it creatively. Statements 56 pertain to insight. By looking for the root cause to an issue you are seeking to better understand and eliminate the problem at its source. Additionally, Let's examine the negatives that arise in the discovery of insight. Our minds tend to focus on the negatives. And those negatives should raise red flags that draw our attention and problem-solving instincts to ask the questions how and why. To follow up the negative statement? I can't do this, should not end in a full stop. But well, why can't I do this? Or how come I can't do this? How could I do this? We use those negatives as a starting point to guide our problem-solving instincts. Now, for visual learners, it may help to map out these root cause analyses. While verbal learners might find it useful to use someone as a sounding port, or even think your thoughts out loud to verbalize them and get them into the open where your thoughts go from abstract to real. Statements Seven and Eight associate with step four. Evaluation. I think we should be clear in separating short-term documenting of an idea from actually evaluating in developing that idea. Creatives best friend is his or her idea journal. Whenever you get an idea, document it as best as you understand it, then close it off and let it marinate. By immediately moving forward with implementation, you are actually skipping over step two in the creative process. From statement eight, evaluating ideas should not take place during the time of idea generation or when flushing out an idea during the idea generation process. By narrowing your focus. This kills a divergent or lateral thinking process and prevents other ideas are more developmental insights from firming up during the development process. The final two statements pertain to elaboration and planning. Feasibility is a killer when it comes to creatives, as it discourages one from pursuing their path forward. If your idea is truly creative, you should commit to making it happen. Feasibility or not. Sometimes the hardest thing for creative is to entrust your idea to others in order to see it come to fruition. Numb to sell your idea to others who might have resources and know-how to overcome your feasibility pitfalls. To final statement really goes back to our original separation of creative types. A creative, innovative entrepreneur could reasonably generate, develop, and market their idea into a commercial success. That sounds a lot like a solo runner. But in organizations, it doesn't work that way. Specialization takes precedence and allows the process to leverage the competitive advantages of each stage in the development process. So before you move on to the next lecture, I want you to reflect on this a bit and do a bit of further self-evaluation. In your project and Resources tab, there is a questionnaire if you haven't already downloaded it, which has a table that allows you the space to journal, allow some ideas or anecdotes for each question type. As you reflect on these, think about them and think if you're strong in these creative areas, or if this is an area in which you need to develop further. 6. Creative Places: Continuing on to excerpt from Dr. Jane Henry's work, we will now examine the segment of creative places. These days, a good deal of management thinking argues that the society we live in and our organizational structures have a major impact on creative output. The suggestion is that creative ideas flow, where new ideas and challenges are welcomed and where people are encouraged to play rather than controlled and threatened. It follows then that organizations that want to promote creativity might need to look at creating a flatter organization of structure in an attempt to reduce bureaucracy and speed up the creative processes in order to show how creativity is affected by environment and organizational structures. Let's bring in an example of a simple opening remarks from a meeting. Firstly, we'll look at how meetings shouldn't run and break down and analyze them for how non supportive This meeting is for promoting creativity in a business meeting. Ladies and gentlemen, let's get straight down to business. I know it's a bit last minute, but I've called you here because we urgently need some fresh ideas for the upcoming campaign. But before we begin, let's lay out some ground rules for the discussion. Firstly, we won't be discussing anything we're already working on. Additionally, we're gonna tight budget. So let's try and limit your ideas to ones that won't break the bank. Lastly, any ideas you come up with, I'm going to want you to prepare a full report so that we can take it to the board. So who wants to start? Now, let's take a look and analyze scene by scene for how non conducive to creativity. This meeting was, firstly, our meeting chairperson hasn't given his people advanced notice as to the purpose of the meeting. The meeting ignores me. Hace steps 12 of the creative process, preparation and incubation. A simple MIMO prior to the meeting asked to the purpose of the meeting, could allow his people to immerse themselves in the problem. They would have the time to consciously and subconsciously wrap their heads around the topic for discussion and come ready to discuss at the meeting. If we look a little deeper, when it comes to learning styles, there are active types and reflective types. Act of types are more group-oriented and much more spontaneous and could drive in such environments were created by ideas or call for, Without a moment's notice. But what's also happening is that the reflective type, those who prefer to work and think more independently and also likes time and space to reflect on problems. Would not feel comfortable contributing to this meeting and in this environment. It's not that reflective types have nothing to contribute. They're often the strong silent types, or most comfortable contributing after a proper preparation. Therefore, by announcing the meeting beforehand, giving people time to incubate, you can get the best out of both types, actives and reflected waves. Let's break down the second scene now. Setting ground rules for what a supposed to be a brainstorming session is counterproductive. Remember that creativity flows where ideas are welcomed and not controlled. Furthermore, our minds are geared to focus on the negative. Telling me what not to focus on will make me focus on it. In the third scene, we again see an attempt to control the discussion. And a chairperson is missing out on a key opportunity to find some innovative ideas for some of their completed projects or existing endeavors. Now, in the fourth scene, we can see that the chairperson introduces further constraints on the discussion. In terms of feasibility. The idea of feasibility is for a different time and place. It is part of the evaluation step and should be introduced must later in the development process. It has a tendency to act as an anchor weight to the discussion and won't let ideas get off the ground. The fifth is the final assault on creativity and threatens the ideas at their source. In a room full of busy people. The idea of having extra work being put on your plate might not be as attractive to a person with a potentially good idea. I have an idea, but it's another issue I don't want on my plate right now. So maybe I'll just buy my tongue for now and keep this one to myself. Now, let's replay this scene, how it should look. Good morning, everyone. You're all aware of the purpose of the beating from yesterday's memo. You've had plenty of time to reflect on issue. And of course, everything is on the table for discussion. Don't worry about feasibility or any other limiting factors. There's just get your ideas out there. So let's hear what you've got. Let's start with Caroline. Unless someone else wants to jump in and get a starting. Now, this opening statement situation is much more conducive to encouraging creativity and likely to put the participants of the meeting in the best position to succeed. 7. Creative Processes & Divergent Thinking Tool 1 - Starburst: The creative thinking process is traditionally linked to imaginative thinking, which is expansive in divergent, such as brainstorming. As opposed to convergent thinking, which is more evaluative. Divergent thinking helps to generate a large number of ideas, approaches to problems, and different angles from which to view those problems. The focus here is on quantity. It is a lateral process, whereas convergent thinking is needed to narrow down the output. From the divergent phase. It is more evaluative and inward focused. The focus here is on quality, divergent thinking and convergent thinking. Ten, not to mix two, well, they shouldn't be performed at different stages. As convergent thinking tends to stifle the creative divergent thinking output. So now that we know what divergent thinking is, at this point, let's break out our creative thinking tool kit. These two tools will help to sharpen your creative thinking processes or give you a starting point and from which you can build creative thinking into a skill that you can use at will. Firstly, we have star bursting, or otherwise known as 5W and one h. This is a brainstorming technique in which we tried to explore a problem from different angles to a core problem. The procedure is quite simple. You ask in any order questions from each limb of the star. Whatever questions come to mind. And the limbs and tags help to focus your mind on the types of questions to ask. Feel free to ask follow-up questions at this time to any first-line questions. It may help for you to doodle these out in order to visualize the brainstorms as the questions come out. Let's observe a simple example in demonstration. Our core problem in this example is that students says, I don't have enough time to study. So less engaged in a quick start bursting practice. I like to start with why? Why don't you have enough time to study? What do you spend your time on? Where do you spend most of your time? Where do you like the study? Who do you spend your time with? When do you feel you should be studying? How could you make more time to study? As you can see from the example, the questions come fast and furious with this type of activity. Now, you simply go back through an interview along each thread. If you've made a doodle visualization, denote down your answers right within the doodle. Once you have gamed out, all of the questions and answers, the suggestions and recommended actions should become clear. Narrowed down the most applicable fixes to your problem. This can be a quick and effective tool for creative thinking and problem-solving. 8. Divergent Thinking Tool 2 - Reverse Thinking: The next tool we're going to learn is how to use the reverse brainstorm. This one's another divergent thinking technique, whereby you reframe the problem and look at it from the opposite perspective. Traditionally, we've tried to frame or defined the issue. Next, we generate ideas with a brainstorm. Then we analyze those ideas with a bit of convergent thinking. And finally, we arrive at a solution. Now, instead of focusing on the problem, you could focus on the reverse of the problem or how to exacerbate the problem by making it worse with an alternative solution. As the aim of this exercise. In thinking. Oftentimes, by doing this, we brainstorm in the opposite direction. And lo and behold, you have some ideas that you can then reverse back and maybe get a solution from a bit of creative thinking. The procedure begins with identifying the problem. Then reverse the problem with a what if question. Another way is to focus on a reversed solution. Then you perform your brainstorm on that what if question to generate ideas for the reversed question. An interesting way to use the creative thinking tools from this course would be to combine tool number one, the star burst technique from the previous lecture with this tool at step three, engage in a bit of question asking under five w one h. The next step is to turn those brainstormed ideas back around and then look at them as a potential solution to your problem. Evaluate these ideas and see which ones might give you a creative solution. Let's bring in another example of a problem and then demonstrate this method. On that problem. The area sales manager notices their team are on track to miss out on their sales targets for the quarter. So they meet to discuss the situation. The obvious question to ask is, how do we increase sales? But a fun way to diverge from this traditional line of thinking is to ask the reverse. How could we further decrease our sales? That should get the ball rolling with some ideas such as, how about we stop advertising? We could try ignoring our best customers. Why don't we target the wrong Nietzche? We could always sell an inferior product. And have we considered raising the price? These are just a few that might come to mind. Now the next step is to converge on each of these ideas. Ask the questions about each thread, and do some analysis and evaluation on each thread until some workable solutions emerge. To round up, try and incorporate a regular practice of engaging in this type of reverse thinking. Whenever you or anyone you know, comes to you with a problem. And with this tool combined with the star bursting technique, you have a powerful set of tools to focus your thinking in creative ways to solve problems with outside the box solutions. The next lecture, we're going to examine for P of the four P's of creativity. Creative products. 9. Creative Products: The last of the four P's is creative product. When we were talking about creative product, in many cases, we're talking about an actual product that's creative and useful. Another way of thinking of creative products can be that of creative services, whereby they're creative product is a service they offer and the client finds it useful. According to Dr. Henry, creative products may arise from radical breakthrough or a series of small incremental steps. Management methods in the West have emphasized radical breakthroughs, whereas the Japanese model has built much of its success on small, incremental steps. The task of the manager is therefore to encourage and coordinate multidisciplinary and teams working on product development and driving these processes along toward either goal. The creative output we're going to deploy to fully bring all these elements together isn't a form of a consulting case study. Your client has a business issue and your job as a business consultant to look at the problem with a fresh set of eyes and go through the divergent thinking process to generate potential solutions for your client. Let's bring in the case first. And then we'll use some of our new creative thinking techniques to see how many solutions we can generate and present to our client. 10. Case Study Brief: Hi and welcome back to the course. In this lecture, we're going to bring in the case study. It's a case about a business owner and his cash-flow problems. You may download this case study as a PDF from the projects tab and use it to follow along and refer to during the presentation. You may want to pause the video at different times in order to work on the case. During the presentation, I want you to try and identify the cashflow problems presented. Many newer and younger companies often have cash flow issues. Although they may have large sums of money invested in equipment and property, they don't have the cash to deal with payments. You're a business consultant and the owner of this cash trick and business has come to you for some professional help. Your job is to use a fresh pair of eyes on the business owners issues and come up with some creative solutions to some of the issues. Read the case study and get to know the issue. What are the three problems presented? Busy bee building is a growing construction business. The business is owned by Bobby, qualified builder, who specializes in Berkeley lowering, wall tiling in air conditioning systems. Bobby, the owner, employs two full-time people and also has to subcontractors. Bobby's business has grown in recent years, allowing him to take on larger scale projects than when he originally started out. However, Bobby has been experiencing some cash flow problems. For starters. There is a lag between the cash coming in and the cash going out. This stems from the fact that he has to pay wages every two weeks in addition to paying suppliers upon delivery of goods or within seven days, the invoice is he sends out are usually for a 30% deposit for immediate payment with the balance being built 30 days after completion of the work. Bobby also waits until the end of the month to do all his invoices at one time. Furthermore, he also doesn't lie the hassle people for money. And he usually let past due bills remain for too long before following up. He believes this might upset his customers who could return in the future. To make up for his cash shortfall, Bobby regularly uses his credit cards to supplement his needs and then pay off the credit cards and payments come in. This system is rather expensive and the interest expenses or adding a cutting into his profits. Bobby is finally good, more and more difficult to manage cash-flow. The larger scale projects mean that has cash requirements. And problems are made worse because there are a larger amounts of cash going out and longer waits for the cache to come back in. Now, in the next lecture, we're going to compare notes. So I want you to go back through the case and identify the three problems to Bobby's cash flow issues. And we'll compare notes in the next lecture. 11. Case Study Analysis: Welcome back to the next lecture. It's time for us to compare notes on the case study. Firstly, there is a lag between the cash going out and cash coming in for his jobs. Now, this isn't a new thing as most businesses take on the cost of goods sold upfront before getting a return on those goods when they are sold. However, Bobby's issue is exacerbated or aid worse by the scale of the costs going out and coming back in. The second issue is twofold. Number one, he waits until the end of the month to invoice. This is a self-inflicted lag and his money in and money out issue. The second issue here is his poor effort at collecting receivables. The final issue is his use of credit cards as a means of short-term financing. Now, if your senses are tingling at this point, it's probably because you feel we're only looking at the surface issues of a deeper problem. And getting to know this case. Your attention might have been drawn to the opening statements when it was revealed that Bobby has been taking on larger scale projects and before, this would be the root cause of Bobby's issues from which all other problems flow. Now you might be thinking, Okay, great, I'll just advise Bobby to scale back on the jobs he takes. And that will solve all those problems. But put yourself in his shoes. And how would that advice go over? There's a high chance that Bobby will resist this recommendation until you thanks for wasting his time. Your job as his consultant is to engage in the full process and present him Options and guide him to the right outcome. That makes sense for him. So we have to clear paths forward. We need to examine the root cause of the problem. And we need to examine the symptomatic problems of his current path. The options we want to present a Bobby is that if you want to continue on your current business plan of taking on bigger jobs, then these are some things you could do to mitigate your cash flow issues. Or we could propose an alternative to solve the problem at its source and change course one, incremental in one, a bit more radical. Finally, we will look for overlap in as many places as possible to make some concrete fixes and recommendations that will work for Bobby. In either scenario. 12. Case Study Task - Divergent Thinking Tools in Action: Welcome back. In this lecture, I'm going to simulate the two divergent thinking techniques with a demonstration continuing on from our case study, our procedure. We'll begin first, reverse brainstorm where we, number one, firstly, identify the problem. Previously, we had identified the original problems as more symptomatic. Then we dug a little deeper to find the root cause. We're going to perform these techniques on the root cause issue. Secondly, will then reverse Bobby's root problem. Then we'll brainstorm the reverse of his problem. Our brainstorm on this step will consist of the starburst technique. So this is the stage where we'll use the second tool in our box. And what we're really doing here is combining these tools together. After star bursting will reverse those ideas back at potential solutions to Bobby's problem. And finally, we'll compile what we have as a potential solution to Bobby's problem and make a recommendation. Let's start with our root cause. Bobby has been taking on larger projects and it's dressed his cash flow a bit then how could we reverse the problem? Take that statement, form the negative of it. Or form a. What if question to the negative of our problem statement. What if Bobby didn't take on bigger projects? Now, we're on step three. Brainstorming the reversed problem. Here, we're going to use the starburst technique and simulate this second tool. I generally like to start with. Why? So why did Bobby start taking on bigger projects in the first place? How big is a big project? And how does the smaller project compare? What's the opportunity cost of a larger project in terms of smaller projects? How many jobs can Bobbie managed at one time? Could he managed more jobs with additional staffing? How might Bobbi feel about going back to smaller projects? Where are his jobs located in relation to his base of operations? What's the timeline for his President project and the projects down and his pipeline. When will he be able to take on any new projects? Who has what skills and his team. And could they be split up to work on separate jobs who could help him manage the finances in corporate and coordinate projects. In the end, after our group divergent thinking session, our starburst map would look a little something like this. Now, here are some takeaways for this type of activity. Notice how we never stopped to focus on, Discuss or even answered any of the questions. It's most definitely OK to ask follow up questions. If you're doing out the activity visually, tried to keep the connection threads to each question and follow-up question. You may even think about numbering the questions as a reference point and to maintain the sense of order about the activity. Because at the next step, we're going to use those questions to flip it from divergent to converge it. We're going to answer these questions and use some of the answers as a basis for our findings. So let's get to it in the next lecture. 13. Case Study Task - Convergent Thinking Step: Hi and welcome back. In the previous lecture, we engaged in a bit of divergent thinking in order to get some ideas on our case study. Now, we're going to move into the convergent thinking phase of the process. I'll perform a bit of the discussion and rationalization for their questions. We brainstormed with the first starburst technique. We have identified the root cause that Bobby had taken on a larger contract strategy to grow his business. So we asked the question, what if Bobby didn't take on bigger projects? Well, obviously, you'd have to take all the smaller projects. Probably wouldn't be happy about that. As he would probably view it as a step backwards. That as we develop further, that discussion will take shape such that you will see that the smaller contracts strategy doesn't necessarily mean the same as what Bobby had been doing before. Will go through the questions and provide answers, contexts, and rationalizations to see where this goes. So why did Bobby start taking on bigger projects in the first place? Above all, he wanted to grow his business. But there are more ways to grow besides doing bigger contracts. You could also do more of the smaller contracts. The competing strategies are size versus quantity. Bobby's business is set up to excel a smaller contracts. Yet when his team was large enough to do bigger jobs, it might not have seen the alternative of a rapid small contracts strategy. The next natural question follows Dan this, along this same threat of thinking, how do the large and small contracts compare in terms of size and value? Well, the smaller contracts that busy B had been doing work, renovation projects. For example, a room, multiple rooms, or the whole interior. Whereas the larger contracts are more in the homebuilding market, where his team would be expected to perform installations and finishing on whole houses and building projects. In terms of value, performing work on a larger contract would amount to about 2.5 times the value of a smaller contract. Hence, our subject, Bobby, when chasing the higher contract value. The next logical question along this thread was then, with his current setup, what's the opportunity cost of a smaller project to a larger project? Let's go off track for a moment and define what opportunity cost is. This is a key buzzword in the field of economics. It basically means that what you give up or sacrifice the cost in order to pursue an opportunity. Opportunity cost. In simpler terms. What's the next best thing you could be doing with your time or money. In Bobby's case, his opportunity cost of large contracts is how many small contracts he could do in the same timeframe. Let's give it a value of two. The next questions continue along this line of thinking. How many jobs could Bobbie managed at one time? And could he manage more jobs with additional staffing? Let's say with his two teams, one for time and the other part-time. He could divide the teams into two inhabited work separately. So yes, he could manage to at the same time. And furthermore, the building process can be broken into three stages of development. Starting stages, middle stages, where installations are being done, and the final stages. If you were to add an additional team, he could in the future take on and work three jobs concurrently. Finally, a 13 would allow him to exceed his previous possibilities. As larger contracts were valued, an average of 2.5 times the smaller contracts. Heat now be able to do three contracts can currently completing them all three in less time than the larger contracts. As a follow-up, what would be the benefit of doing multiple smaller jobs at once? Well, instead of a large job occupying his time and resources, smaller job's finished. What's more quickly. Shortening galactic time for cash flows plus multiple starting jobs at finishing in a relatively similar timeframe means money would be coming in all the time. 30% deposits plus 70% completions, more or less at the same time. Now, lets go off topic on another and chase. Another side note. In Richard Thaler is misbehaving a study on behavioral economics. He explains that cash is fungible. Well, let's define what fungible means. It is a commodity that can be interchanged with goods or assets of equal value. So as an example, let's view cached in a way, a household views cash versus that of a business. A household consists of an earner who gets paid once a month. He or she pays all their bills from one pot of money. While it's convenient, if the bills are all due at the same time, they often arm into Bill pair, has to set money aside for each bill, as do all at different times. Essentially, he has to make a money on envelope for this bill and one for that bill, and another for the next bill and so forth and so on. But businesses don't operate like a household because money transactions are occurring all the time. Cash on hand goes to pay the bills at the time of need. The business owner doesn't think that this envelope of cash should go to pay for needs of disk associated project because other transactions will come in and cover those needs in the future. He doesn't set aside a money envelope to cover a future cause when there are present needs and the money available to pay it. Utilizing a rapid strategy, a small contracts makes this business owners cash more fungible. Therefore, solving the cost flow issues. Since during the meeting, the direction of the question suggests a potential alternative strategy that might be viewed as a step backwards towards what Bobby had been doing before. It would be a good idea to engage this as a question directly. And well, he might be open to the idea because we'd be proposing it as a rapid strategy with multiple independent teams working concurrently. In a way, it is exploring the same strategy as before, but on stair words, The key here is to communicate the strategy as different and as playing to their strengths. Bobby setup. Additionally, you want to show him a path forward that could lead him back to being in a position to take on any sides of contract he has an opportunity for in the future. At this point, the question asking exercise shifts to a different limb of the star. The where. It's a left field question, but a relevant one. Location and logistics are a part of the cost structure for any building business. And this question explores new home projects typically locate in the suburban parts of town, whereas renovation project, or more located in the center of town. Let's say the baby has a base of operations. Also in the center of town. This provides additional support for the reasoning of switching back to a small rapid completion strategy. Any building and development business usually has projects lined up in advance. This question about timeframe could be important to giving a timeframe board a shift in strategy to be marketed and see results. The next question follows along the limb of the star. As the direction of the earlier questions had centered around Bobby's ability to separate into teams. This question asks that more directly. And as we said before, yes, but a little bit of work. He could separate the teams and having them work independently of one another. And the final question is a separate thread along the limb of the star. The beginning analysis of the case was that some of the cash flow problems were symptomatic. However, the issue of delayed invoicing and a reluctance to pursue outstanding receivables. It's a separate core issue that will persist no matter which strategy Bob decides to pursue. We could brainstorm a few short-term solutions. Because in the short term, this Cass crunch is real and he could use some temporary help in this regard. Speeding up the endorsing and collection of receivables with part-time help, such as a family member or friend, an intern, or something that has become more and more popular recently, a virtual assistant would benefit him greatly without adding too much on the cost side. However, in the long term, he might want to consider making room for a permanent position to coordinate projects and control the operations such as invoicing and collections. That will conclude the evaluation and convergent thinking phase of this case. After discussing all of the issues, firstly, divergently, then convergently. The next step is to compile a report on the findings of the exercise, along with some recommendations. So see you in the next lecture. 14. Case Study Task - Report and Conclusion: But this final lecture, we're going to bring it all together with the creative product. In our case, the creative product is a report on the findings of busy bee buildings, cash-flow problems, and our recommended actions that busy B, Bobby should take to rectify his situation. You can find the report as a PDF and the projects and resources tab as a downloadable resource. As with any report, it begins with the Executive Summary. The cashflow issues reported by Busy Bee building have been examined. And while this data problems brought to our attention proved troublesome, refill there are deeper issues. This report aims to examine the core issue and propose a strategy shift to address the problems at their source. Meanwhile, providing a more stable path forward to achieve the desired outcome of sustainable business growth. Next up, we have the Reports Introduction. This report will cover number one, findings under reported cash flow issues. Recommendations based on the broader goals of busy building and the benefits of the proposed actions in both the short and long term. Continuing with the report and we'll take a look now at the findings. Part a, of the findings. During the interview with the client, three issues were exposed. Number one, the lag of cash inflows and outflows has increased since the original strategy, shift. Number two, there are self induced delays on the cash flows. There are delays in invoicing upon the completion of projects, and there are unnecessary delays and attempts to collect outstanding receivables do. And thirdly, the use of expensive credit cards to make up for cash shortfalls. Part B of the findings, the stated goal of business growth has led to the taking on of larger projects that have increased destroying On the Natural cashflow cycle. We have identified this as the root cause as a cash flow issues. Part C of the findings, further examination of the climate stated goal of business growth has led to the identification of an alternative strategy that could also satisfy the broader goal of business growth for busy bee building. Smaller, rapid contracts strategy. As a result, there are four recommendations which the client should consider to rectify the situation. First recommendation. The first recommendation would be to pursue the strategy of renovations, jobs. Smaller contracts whereby the business always has two jobs going simultaneously, staggered at separate stages of completion. A rapid strategy. In order to achieve the rapid strategy, that teams should be broken into specialized teams in order to increase efficiency, the speed of performance until allow to jobs to occur at once. An additional a person could be brought on to control administrative duties such as billing and collections. Firstly, in the short term, those options might include using a family member or friend of the business, a student in turn, or part-time virtual assistant. In the longer term, options could include upgrading the position to a full time controller, not only to coordinate finances, but also operations. Part C of the recommendations. In the long-term, a. 13 could be employed to master three stages of building Development, Assessment, staging and breakdown phrase, installations, and then the finishings and cleanup. And lastly, we can use the eight week timetable of current and future arrange jobs to market and Lineup future jobs according to the new strategy shift should decline, choose to take it. And now let's look at what can be some expected benefits of the proposed changes. A bit contract strategy versus a small rapid contract strategy speeds up the cash flow cycle once again, relieving the pressure of cashflow on the business. Also adding a second job and dividing into teams to work the job separately. It will allow busy building to stock or it's jobs by stage of development. Thus making it possible to operate on both deposit money and contract completion money at once. Thirdly, the shifter strategy could reduce logistical costs due to the concentration of renovation projects being located closer to busy bee buildings base of operations. For adding the third team in the long run makes it possible to increase the chop capacity to three concurrently. Thus matching the three main stages of building development and exceeding the opportunity costs of large building contracts to smaller ones. Further aligning with busy bee buildings goal of business growth and expansion. And lastly, as the business is already well established in the renovations market, and it has a lot of goodwill from former client, will be easier to get new clients from an eater base. And then conclusion, a small job strategy should not be seen as a failure of the large contract strategy. That's more is better approach. That could eventually provide a more stable foundation for busy bee building to include larger jobs as the business continues to grow and expand. That does it. For this final lecture, given a report on everything we've accomplished with this business case. And the creative thinking tools we use to arrive at the final output. And the next lesson, I've set you up with a project to look at this case from the other perspective. So draw me in the next one to get your project and get started practicing these tools on your own. 15. Project and Outro: And now it's time for your project. Your mission should you choose to accept it. And you will, is to perform and publish a quick starburst brainstorm on one or both of the following problems. You can find the file as a downloadable in the projects and resources tab for this course. Once you're ready, you can post it as a project. For all to see. Here's a look at the first of the problems. If you remember well from the case study, this was the first of the symptomatic problems that Bobby was facing. As during the course, we were using the divergent thinking tools on the root cause. Let's say, for example, that Bobby came back to you. I didn't want to drastically change his business strategy. He only wants quick fixes. So you can perform your new-found brainstorming techniques on these symptomatic issues. Let's have a look at the next one. Also, if you remember correctly, this was the symptomatic problem number three from the case. You can perform your brainstorm on this issue and post it back to this course as a project. You open the PowerPoint file and zoom out of the page view, you will find additional instructions in the textboxes outside the margins of these slides. If you've made it this far. Congratulations. Let me just give my sincere thanks to you for watching. I hope this course and the resources provided prove helpful for you and your business needs. I'd love to see what creations you're able to come up with. So I encourage all of you to complete the project and post it to this class page. That does it for this course. John Williams signing off.