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Pixels by Jake
|Quote of the month-
"Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you
think up if only you try!"
They're good for the brain.
Can you circle exactly four of these numbers such that the total
Difficulty: Very Hard
Below is a very special grid. Around each shaded number are 8 white squares.
However, each white square should have a number from 1 to 7. Once filled in,
these 8 numbers will add up to the shaded number. In addition, once completed
correctly, no row or column will contain a duplicate number within a white
example, the top row may be 5 6 4 2 3 1 7, etc.
This is BrainBashers™ most
difficult puzzle, but is solvable without the aid of a computer.
for the answers...
Puzzles supplied by Brainbashers
Website of the month
|What If? Hats
Available in 4 colors:
Mustard, Burnt Orange
Fanning the Creative Spirit Audio Book
3 CD $18.95
MP3 download $11.95
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|Creativity Central |
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Creativity Central cNews
November 9, 2004
Volume 1, Issue 11
We hope you enjoyed reading this issue of Creativity Central cNews.
We'll bring you more exciting news from Creativity Central and our affiliates
just one month
from now on Tuesday, December 9, 2004.
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relationship with you, and would never sell our email list to anyone.
Central Idea Blog
Central has placed an Idea Blog on
our website. As we send out newsletters, we will be posting articles in the
blog. We encourage you to post comments and/or critiques. This is a free
forum to share thoughts on the articles we write. It can also be a place
to just add ideas. The people who have access to this blog span the spectrum
of experience, and can provide a much needed point-of-view shift.
Vote for The Ministry of Creativity and Innovation
I truly enjoyed Tom Tresser’s Creativity
is America’s Greatest Renewable Energy Source in last month's cNews.
He makes it clear that creativity is one of America’s true resources, “..a
source that lies inside every individual and one that is renewable and endless
... and it should be a national priority.” He’s right on the money.
Our government need not worry about those jobs going offshore. Rrather both parties
should become proactive and heed Tom’s urging to appoint a “National
Director Of Creativity” whose “job it will be to thoroughly ...
this vital natural resource.”
For better or worse, we are an economy committed to growth. And, we have a consumer
base demanding the best price. It’s an insatiable combination that can
only be fed by a market dedicated to creativity and innovation. “Cheaper,
better, faster” is the rant of our economy. “More” is the cry
of the consumer. These two simple demands are cause enough to not worry about
the “cheap fast follow” of offshore producers, but rather they are
a call to invest in discovering “the next right answer” for a ravenous
economy that yearns for novelty. We have the market and the resources. All that
is needed is support for the power of the spirit of Creativity and Innovation
that have been present since the first moments of this great democracy.
Post your comments
1 of 2
Focus Succumbs to Greed
Charlie & Maria Girsch
Part One: The Cause
travels through corporate America reveal a growing tendency
to abuse the venerable Total Quality Management philosophy and
its second cousin Six Sigma. As in all human situations, a tool
can be used for good OR evil. Sadly, for most practitioners,
Six Sigma has been used to eliminate rather than enhance. The
abusers have locked on to that part of the system where cost
cutting is “the only right answer.”
Human nature, sometimes dressed as greed, misuses the initiative
in search of greater profits and personal wealth. Enron, Andersen, the
tobacco industry et al, while demonstrating amazing levels of creativity
and innovation, have left us dispossessed. In truth, Six Sigma’s
strength is in cost cutting and improved quality. As such, it’s
ability to build the top line is dubious which renders it questionable
as a sustainable business strategy. The sad result is that its the most
common appreciation is as a cost-cutting utility.
Two recent brainstorming efforts have us guessing about
the positives of Six Sigma. Both a midwestern manufacturing company and
a Canadian food processor were looking for ways to differentiate their
production from that of the competition. In each case, the organization’s
product had been reduced to a commodity. Their product was simply no longer
In a world where everyone does the same things, everyone
begins to look alike. After all, if you have misapplied Quality and Six
Sigma in order to down or right size, if you have delivered “just
in time”, if you have “moved your cheese” and gone to “fish
camp,” you suddenly realize that all of your competitors have done
exactly the same things. When that happens, you’ve gone full circle.
The only ways left to differentiate are by product or promotion.
More and more we at Creativity Central are called upon
to help a company invent a promotional effort to entice and/or reward
clients and customers for choosing their commodity. Innovation falls to
customer compensation instead of product innovation. Dan Wallace of Idea
Food puts it this way: “In the absence of innovation, organizations
have no other options than to rely on Six Sigma etc. to increase quality
and reduce headcount. The nature of free market competition will eliminate
firms that don’t do this. The irony is that without innovation,
Six Sigma and friends will only slow down the death of a firm.”
It’s worth remembering as we enter this reflection that the purpose
of the Quality Movement, and its various offshoots, was to provide
jobs and bring prosperity to the community. It is further worthy to note that
Quality founder W. Edwards Deming believed that "there should be
a relationship between the salary of the person at the top and the one
on the bottom." That simple concept would be a hard sell in the majority
of organizations where Six Sigma enjoys its greatest and most passionate
Leader Source’s Bill McCarthy opines that we succumb “because
we place such a high value on quantifying.” Peter Block suggests
that "It is easiest to change those things that are easiest to talk
about. So we focus on structure, roles, responsibilities. We have intense
discussions about innovative pay systems, self management strategies,
and the elements of total quality management. (However) if there is no
transformation inside each of us, all the structural change in the world
will have no impact on our institutions." We would suggest that true
transformation can only take place when there is a transition from “same
old thinking” to the search for “the next right answer.”
It’s easy to understand the misuse of Six Sigma if you look at two
key factors that influence decision making in a growth economy . Here’s
what we mean.
The first is the commitment to continued earnings growth
and profit that is required by our investment economy. Jack’s Welch’s “Grow
or Die” urging summarizes the first of these factors. Jobs and prosperity
go out the door as they are replaced by a commitment to growth---an addiction,
if you will, which is most easily satisfied by reducing cost to insure
profit. This dedication has moved both manufacturing and jobs to places
where the “costs” are considerably lower. In truth, the American
dream is an economy of growth. And realistically we have come to believe
that there are only two ways to grow: you either eliminate the costs of
doing business or acquire market share through acquisition or merger.
The second factor influencing our choices is more subtle.
Many of our managers fall into the categories of “sustainers” and “modifiers” according
to the Creatrix™ Profile offered by The Richard Byrd Company. It
seems that these categories eschew the creative risk-taking necessary
to generate new product or to launch the initiatives required to successfully
differentiate. Since the upside of increasing revenue is almost unlimited,
one would expect that there would be a greater value place on promoting
managers focused on improvement.
(There is a true story of a midwestern Product Marketing
Organization that developed a unique climbing device which
is sold in large quantities through a “big box” retailer.
A manufacturing facility was set up off shore in order
to achieve a very attractive retail price. The far eastern
government where the plant is located stipulates that the
midwest Marketing Organization (that developed and sells
the devices) must sign a contract commitment to keep the
laborers’ wages below a certain threshold in order
to insure a balance in the off shore’s economy! “Mr.
Midwest” complies in order to maintain his business:
he likes the profits. As a consumer, you like the price.
And finally, his organization enjoys its bottom line. Yet,
as a citizen you start to worry about the loss of both
the manufacturing AND the jobs. This constant tug between
average everyday people wanting—no, expecting---low
prices, yet spouting invectives concerning the outsourcing
that’s going on in our country is clearly the dilemma
that’s making Six Sigma “Sick!” )
This second more seductive factor finds comfort in the
realization that Six Sigma (and Quality before it) grew
up in a world of numbers. Both were born of the efforts
of statisticians. Number analysis isn’t bad in and
of itself. Applying numbers to the world of manufacturing
has certainly produced an amazing improvement to the benefit
of the customer/consumer. The Six Sigma improvement methodology
called DMAIC stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve
and Control. So far, so good.
For the first time since the beginning of the industrial
age, manufacturers began to acquire data about their operations.
The data was scoured to learn what wisdom it held or revealed
about one’s systems and processes. Then, as problems
and inefficiencies were discovered, the creative problem
solving process was to be employed to create solutions.
Look at the data; see what it tells you; change your perspective
in order to let the unique aspects of the problem suggest
new and viable solutions. That was the good news.
The bad news is that another group of statisticians, a.k.a.
bean counters, found Six Sigma and began to MISapply its
purpose and philosophy. Rather than use the power of innovation
to improve, enhance, and reinvent, these practitioners
chose the easy path of cost reduction in order to quickly
arrive at a profit. Cost reduction became their “one
right answer!” Thus you will hear stories like that
of GE Capital, who after an enormously profitable year,
announced a huge job reduction in order to reach even newer
and better numbers in the next year.
Creativity and Innovation
represent lateral not linear thinking---and that seems
off-putting to some. So think of it this way. The Best
Practices of lateral thinking can be formulaic in design.
In other words, it is possible to open up one’s thinking
in unusual and unexpected ways. Creativity Central’s
no-fail Get Your Butt Fired™ technique, in a fun
and productive process, invites out-of-the-ordinary thinking
in order to grab outrageous possibilities that can be quickly
reduced to practical solutions. We call it “going
from the wacky to the workable,” and frankly, it
never NOT works! There are literally hundreds of other
formulas—and they are truly procedural formulas---which,
when exercised by open engaged minds, can and do deliver
innovation every time. The Creative Problem Solving method
(CPS), which has been around innovation networks for years,
is a process that works no matter the challenge. We have
used it with clients to invent (or reinvent) everything
from products to services to campaigns. It’s always
a rewarding experience for our customers. We know this
because we have always unabashedly offered a money-back
guarantee, and all of our clients have felt they benefitted
from the variety of Innovation techniques we shared with
Caveat Emptor. As you prepare to embrace the potential
of creative, innovative thinking, be advised and carefully
note that there is a penchant among the Six Sigma practitioners
to embrace the highly systematized Russian Triz system.
In a good and methodical way, Triz appeals to the statistical
mentality. But like all things, good can be abused in order
to produce innovation in a non-messy (read potentially
non-innovative) manner. Continuously successful creativity
is a lateral process. However, the very human desire (previously
identified as greed when it’s pushed for cost reducing
high returns) can now reappear seeking uniformity and comfort.
Our humanness both embraces and abuses Triz’ “systems
approach” in order to avoid the messy ambiguity of
living without an answer in the moments it takes to discover
the “next great right answer.”
There is hope. A handful of recent examples in our consumer
society which demonstrate that product differentiation
is possible without the long costly changes in systems
that the “sustainers” and “modifiers” so
dread. Dutch Boy paints and Round Up weed control have
shown that simple yet dramatic innovations in packaging
or delivery can differentiate their products in meaningful
and profitable ways. Innovative product doesn’t always
have to be rocket science!
Post your comments
Doesn’t take a rocket scientist Award:
Creativity Central will hand over one genuine
"What If?" hats to the reader
who shows us the product or service that answers
some big challenge by applying
the simplest of solutions. Submit
your entry for December
Thanks to Wayne Lindhom for this one. He's November's winner and will
receive one of our "What If?" hats for spotting this bit of
Big Ass Fans makes huge fans – 6
feet diameter to 24 feet diameter range – that have many industrial applications
like warehouses, loading docks, agricultural barns, etc. They took an established
but quiet product, re-named it, and brought it to the forefront of their industry.
Creativity Central will award one fabulous Fanning
the Creative Spirit book to the reader who provides
us with a new (to us) Stretch~ercise™ that
out-stretches the stretchiest of our little brain
Submit your entry for December
If you don't know what a Stretch~ercise™ is,
then check it out
Steve Dahlberg, General Manager, Creative Education Foundation CreativeEducationFoundation.org
- Imagination and ideas are the social capital
that grows economies, integrates differences and
changes individuals ... ideas can transform the
world. There is a global urgency for deliberate
creativity -- whether it's the 9/11 Commission
citing the intelligence community's 'faliure of
imagination,' the head of GE calling for innovation
to enable continual corporate growth, a political
pundit pointing out the 'war of ideas' between
differing groups or an urban planner advocating
for creative communities."