Cover image for The toolbox for the mind : finding and implementing creative solutions in the workplace
The toolbox for the mind : finding and implementing creative solutions in the workplace
Denton, D. Keith.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Milwaukee, WI : ASQ Quality Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xix, 178 pages : illustrations ; 27 cm
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HD53 .D46 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This text takes an interdisciplinary approach to creativity by drawing on disciplines other than normal management areas, such as psychology, sociology and engineering. The book instead draws upon such disciplines as physics, history, biology, and chaos theory.

Author Notes

D. Keith Denton, Ph.D. is currently a professor and distinguished scholar in the Department of Management at Southwest Missouri State University.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

From the teachings of Confucius to the law of thermodynamics, Denton (Southwest Missouri State Univ.) examines creative problem-solving as an integral component of managerial leadership. Divided into three sections, "Creativity and Innovation," "Using Creativity Techniques and Knowledge Tools," and "Implementing Innovations," the book's 14 chapters integrate interdisciplinary decision theory with its practical application in companies like GE, Hewlett-Packard, 3M, and Fujitsu. The succinctly written chapters develop a new decision paradigm in which creativity and innovation become the keystone of managerial effectiveness. They are filled with examples and illustrations that challenge the reader to examine traditional decision models and consider the ways in which a new decision strategy can become a part of an emerging organizational culture. Denton concludes with a series of interactive exercises and questions designed to help readers apply the book's techniques to their day-to-day business decisions. This work will interest readers in many disciplines beyond business. S. R. Kahn University of Cincinnati

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. xv
Prefacep. xvii
Acknowledgmentsp. xix
Section I Creativity and Innovation
Chapter 1 Defining Creativityp. 1
Introductionp. 1
Always Ask Yourself Why--Rather Than Howp. 2
Finding Wellsprings of Creativityp. 2
Encourage Passion and Risk Takingp. 3
Insightful Questionsp. 4
Challenge Your Commonsense Assumptionsp. 5
Formulating the Problemp. 5
Implementing Creativity at Xeroxp. 6
Redefining Yourself Encourages Innovationp. 7
Summaryp. 8
Chapter 2 The Creativity Zone: Between Order and Chaosp. 11
Introductionp. 11
Self-Organized Creativityp. 12
A State of Reasonable Disorder Is Essential to Creativityp. 13
Order vs. Creativityp. 14
Should You Change?p. 15
Environmental Sensitivityp. 16
Summaryp. 17
Chapter 3 Thinking Creativelyp. 19
Introductionp. 19
Building Synergy--The Need for Nonsensep. 20
Expose Problems to Other Perspectivesp. 21
A Perspective on Creativityp. 22
Cross-Fertilizationp. 22
Work in Areas Unrelated to Your Ownp. 24
Thinking Oppositep. 24
If What You're Trying Doesn't Work, Do the Oppositep. 25
A Different Strategyp. 26
Reverse Planningp. 28
Thinking Outside the Boxp. 29
Summaryp. 31
Chapter 4 Finding New Solutionsp. 35
Introductionp. 35
Transfer Knowledge from Other Disciplinesp. 36
Value Diversity of Knowledgep. 36
Beer and Chipsp. 37
Find Direct Analogies to Your Problemsp. 38
Connecting Chips and Butterfliesp. 40
Summaryp. 45
Chapter 5 Using Darwin's Four Forces to Generate Creative Thinkingp. 47
Introductionp. 47
Darwin's Evolutionp. 48
Evolution and Creativityp. 49
Create More Ideas Than You Can Possibly Needp. 49
The Badger's Lessonp. 50
The Other Three Forcesp. 50
Value Mutationsp. 50
The Logic of Diversityp. 51
Genetic Driftp. 52
To Innovate--Impose Isolationp. 53
Creativity through Adversityp. 54
If You Want Innovation, Create Manageable Adversityp. 54
Stretch Goals and Innovationp. 55
Creating Adversityp. 56
Seek Quantum Improvementsp. 56
Create Adaptive Challengesp. 57
Idea Flowp. 58
A Double-Edged Swordp. 59
Summaryp. 60
Section II Using Creativity Techniques and Knowledge Tools
Chapter 6 Operating Below the Zone: Confucianism's Lessons for Managementp. 63
Introductionp. 63
Create Structured Orderp. 65
Hierarchies and Pecking Ordersp. 66
There Is, Has Always Been, and Will Always Be Pecking Orders, So Create Good Onesp. 67
Hierarchies and Poetsp. 67
Using the Power of the Pecking Orderp. 69
Show How the Rules (for Success) Have Changedp. 69
New Hierarchical Motivatorsp. 69
Teach and Reward Zigzaggingp. 70
Work in Areas Unrelated to Your Ownp. 70
Summaryp. 71
Chapter 7 In the Zone: The Panda Principle's Basics of Product and Process Innovationp. 73
Introductionp. 73
Lesson One: The Panda Principlep. 74
Get There Firstp. 75
Being Vigilantp. 77
Be Sensitive to Small Changes in Your Environmentp. 78
What Are the Priorities?p. 79
Summaryp. 79
Chapter 8 Risk Taking, Innovation, and Product Developmentp. 81
Introductionp. 81
Keep Your Eye on the Ballp. 82
Don't Accept the Status Quop. 83
Do You Feel Safe to Fail?p. 83
Managerial Radicalismp. 85
Risk Taking and the Status Quop. 86
Ask "What Should We Do?" Before Asking "How Are We Doing?"p. 87
To Encourage Innovation, Separate Responsibility and Accountabilityp. 87
Identify Long-Term Cost of the Status Quop. 88
Nurture Risk Takingp. 88
Show Commitment and Caring to Employeesp. 89
Nurturing Philosophyp. 89
Mentoringp. 89
Summaryp. 90
Chapter 9 Developing a Creative Workplace: Managing the Direction -- Not the Detailsp. 93
Introductionp. 93
Bottom-Up Rulesp. 94
To Encourage Innovation, Develop Broad Basic Rulesp. 95
Rules That Encourage Creativityp. 96
Create a Common Focal Pointp. 97
A Clear Identityp. 97
Defining Who We Arep. 98
Continually Clarify Your Focusp. 98
Control and Creativityp. 100
Provide Continual Feedback on Performancep. 100
Summaryp. 101
Chapter 10 Innovation through Technology: A Historical Lessonp. 103
Introductionp. 103
The Red Queenp. 104
By-Products of the British Collapsep. 105
Find Uses for Irrelevant Innovationsp. 105
Run - Very, Very Hardp. 106
Nature's Lessons about Technology's Evolutionp. 107
Cambrian Patternsp. 107
Invest in Leapfrogging Technologyp. 108
Using Cambrian Logicp. 109
Implement Lumpy Changep. 109
Down with the Continual Improvement!p. 110
Creating Cambrian Opportunitiesp. 111
Summaryp. 111
Section III Implementing Innovations
Chapter 11 Anticipating and Understanding Change: Phase Planes -- A New Toolp. 113
Introductionp. 113
Predictability Is Impossible, So Remain Flexiblep. 114
Evolution and Self-Organizationp. 115
Evolving Work Systemsp. 116
Self-Organizing Orderp. 116
Phase Planesp. 117
Calculating Phase Planesp. 120
Reading Phase Planesp. 121
Understanding Changep. 123
Phase Planes Reviewp. 125
Summaryp. 127
Chapter 12 Directing Relevant Innovation Effortsp. 129
Introductionp. 129
Imprint Your Values on Your Groupp. 129
Clarify Why It's Importantp. 130
Inspire Individualsp. 130
Measuring Innovationp. 131
Innovation Must Relate to Key Success Variablesp. 132
Focus on Results-Oriented Objectivesp. 132
Understanding Trade-Offsp. 133
Know Your Priorities and Trade-Offsp. 134
Summaryp. 135
Chapter 13 Leading Innovationp. 137
Introductionp. 137
Implementing Innovationsp. 138
Rule #1 Ask "What Are You Trying to Do?"p. 139
Rule #2 Creating Trust and Buy-In--Begin at the Topp. 139
Rule #3 Create Disciples/Followersp. 139
Rule #4 Measure and Monitor "It"p. 140
"Just Do It"p. 140
Rule #5 Create Dissatisfaction with the Status Quop. 141
Fearp. 141
Rule #6 Visualize a Future Statep. 143
Rule #7 Tell People What Is in It for Themp. 143
What Do You Want?p. 144
Rule #8 Define the Results You Wantp. 144
Tying Compensation to Changep. 144
Just-A-Little-Late Trainingp. 145
Summaryp. 145
Chapter 14 Techniques and Tools for Innovationp. 147
Introductionp. 147
Section I Finding Your Creative Zonep. 147
Exercise #1 "Mind Mapping"p. 147
Exercise #2 "Management-by-the-Fundamental Question"p. 148
Exercise #3 "Formulating Creative Solutions"p. 149
Exercise #4 "Discussion 66"p. 152
Section II Assessing Your Creativityp. 152
Exercise #5 "The Innovative IQ Survey"p. 152
Section III Implementing Innovationsp. 161
Exercise #6 "Dos and Don'ts of Change"p. 161
Exercise #7 "How to Introduce Change--A Seven-Step Exercise"p. 162
Exercise #8 "Playing Cards for Change"p. 164
Exercise #9 "Storyboarding"p. 166
Section IV Miscellaneousp. 170
Exercise #10 "Introducing Innovations Using Project Teams"p. 170
Indexp. 173