Creative Problem Solving

Team rotation across projects

A key component of facilitating team based creative thinking processes, is the requirement that teams repeatedly move around projects. There are a number of important reasons for this dynamic:

Ideation—Going for Volume

More people, means more ideas. Mastering a process requires repetition; by moving the teams to a new project while still in the same phase of the process, allows them to get a better feel for what it is they are trying to achieve and how to identify the appropriate level of output and innovation.

Team Development—Building the Broader Team

The process is designed around the personal journey of the individual participant. Part of this personal development is the recognition of the individual’s contribution to their team. Secondary to this is the relationship between teams. As a healthy competitiveness develops between teams, it is vital to the advancement of the individual that they see how each team is interdependent and builds on the contribution of the other teams.

Energy Management—Maintaining a Positive Atmosphere

As each project develops through each stage of the process each team will loose energy as they run out of ideas. Until each individual learns to push through this wall and develop fresher more innovative ideas, it is important to build confidence and avoid disheartenment. Observing the energy levels within the group will inform as to when the right time to switch is.

Presentation Skills—The Confident Communicator

Team rotation also offers a unique opportunity to develop key skills in the participant. As one team passes off their concepts to the next team, each person quickly realizes after a few exchanges that clear communication is vital to the survival of their ideas. Only ideas with a strong, easily repeatable narrative develop past a couple of rotations. Participants also quickly learn another key communication skill and that is to ask the appropriate questions of the team whose work they are going to be taking over. Not asking the right questions makes building on the work of others much more difficult and lowers productivity.

This continuous development of narrative and questioning, builds on both the confidence of the participant but also on their knowledge of the subject area. Individuals learn that their teammates will have answers to their questions as well as questions of their own. The development of these skills makes a marked difference in the more formal presentations, which are far more mature than those of equivalent students engaging in other methods of delivery.

Failure to engage in timely rotations represents a lost opportunity for key skill development and will have a very negative impact on the overall performance of the group. As the team spends to long in each key stage, they will become demoralized as they run out of ways of generating new ideas. A disillusioned team requires a disproportionate amount of facilitation to get back on track and the negativity can spread rapidly. To short a time and they will be unable to experience the feeling of running out of ideas, which is hugely important to the process.