Novelty Comes in Flavors: Better and Different

By Lisa Hochgraf

A month ago, when the CUES staff gathered in Madison to brainstorm strategic ideas for the organization’s future, session co-leader Bill Shepard of The Creative Problem Solving Group,Buffalo, N.Y., put us through a fun and interesting exercise.

Half of the team, the half I was part of, was asked to form a circle; the other half, to observe the group in the circle. My group was then given a tennis ball and asked to throw it to each member of the group once, and to remember the order of the ball-passing.

After a dry run, which took about a minute, the group was asked to “do it faster.” This was accomplished first by doing the job “better”–by ordering ourselves so we could quickly pass the ball from one person to the next (right next to us) rather than tossing it across the circle each time. This “better” effort cut our time by more than half.

Then we were told that a high school team had done this job in less than three seconds. And then we got creative–and started thinking about how we could do things “different.” Our efforts, illustrated in the photo below, helped us cut our time even more. (We did do as well as those high schoolers!)

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