Creativity and Problem Solving

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FACILITATING CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING GROUPS

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Scott Isaksen at BI Norwegian Business School
Scott Isaksen
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Figures
Figure Three: Task Appraisal
Figure Three: Task Appraisal
Figure Four: A Model for Group Development 
Figure Four: A Model for Group Development
FACILITATING CREATIVE
PROBLEM SOLVING GROUPS
Scott G. Isaksen
Center for Studies in Creativity
State University College at Buffalo
Introduction
If you were asked to name the inventors of the telephone, airplane or lightbulb, you
would probably experience little difficulty in recalling the names of Bell, the Wright
brothers or Edison. In contrast, many people experience difficulty in naming the
"inventor" of the 747 jumbo jet, the 800 inward watts number or the silicon chip.
Aside from the major differences in level of inventiveness and how much more
current the latter three products are, a major difference between these two
categories is that the more recent products have been the result of group creativity.
The growing importance of group creativity is being recognized by all types of
organizations (Freedman, 1988; Kuhn, 1988). The need for organizations to be
competitive and deal with increasing levels of complexity and change has forced
managers, administrators and others who are concerned with the future viability of
our places of work to deal with innovation and creativity. Although many think of
creativity as primarily an individual affair, there is a need to examine the
application of this personal power within the context of groups. Creativity in
groups and in individuals is not an either/or affair. When you are concerned with
facilitating group creativity you must simultaneously be able to address the issue of
promoting individual creativity.
Groups have been defined in many different ways. Most definitions point out that a
group is something more than the simple sum of its members. The following defini-
tion, provided by Johnson and Johnson (1982), will be used for this paper:
A group is two or more individuals in face-to-face interaction, each aware of his or
her membership in the group, each aware of the others who belong to the group, and
each aware of their positive interdependence as they strive to achieve mutual goals.
Hanson (1981) indicated that "as society becomes more complex and organizations
become multi-faceted, decisions that affect many lives are rarely made by
individuals alone. More and more decision making is done within the context of a
group." This emphasis upon group creativity need not diminish the significance of
individual creativity. Indeed, there are many occasions which call for the
application of individual skills and abilities toward the development of creative
solutions. This changing emphasis does, however, call for more involvement on the
part of individuals working together to achieve efficiency and innovation. Lawrence
and Dyer (1983) reviewed the abilities of organizations to structure themselves for
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innovation. They "found no instance of an organization’s having a record of high
efficiency and high innovation without evidence of active involvement throughout
the organization."
Change, complexity and competition provide the impetus for increased creative col-
laboration. Gray (1989) indicated:
Finding creative solutions in a world of growing interdependence requires
envisioning problems from perspectives outside our own. We need to redesign our
problem-solving processes to include the different parties that have a stake in the
issue. Achieving creative and viable solutions to these problems requires new
strategies for managing interdependence.
Leaders and managers concerned with the most productive means and guidelines
for using groups have frequently attempted to gain some clear indications from
research in the social and behavioral sciences. It is beyond the scope of this paper
to review the relevant empirical literature on the use of groups in problem solving
and planning for organizational change (see Bass, 1981; Hackman, 1990; Hackman
& Morris, 1975; Hare, 1976; Hare, 1982; Hoffman, 1979; and Lippitt, Langseth, &
Mossop, 1985, for more comprehensive treatments). However, it is important to
recognize that the current status of this literature does not shed significant light on
the subject. For example, Hackman and Morris (1975) indicated:
In sum, there is substantial agreement among researchers and observers of small
task groups that something important happens in group interaction which can affect
performance outcomes. There is little agreement about just what the "something"
is—whether it is more likely to enhance or depress group effectiveness, and how it
can be monitored, analyzed and altered.
Despite the lack of clear direction from research, groups continue to be important
factors in organizational decision making and problem solving. Frequently, the
necessary information for solving a problem is scattered in a group. In addition, the
acceptance and comprehension of a decision by others is frequently as important as
the actual quality of that decision.
If the empirical literature does not provide clear direction for those interested in the
effective management of group problem solving, it will be important to identify
alternative useful sources. There are a variety of developments which can provide
some productive information and assistance. In a recent examination of the basic
skills employers seek to be more competitive and to develop successful employees
and organizations. Carnevale, Gainer, & Meltzer (1990) found:
Increasingly, employers have been discovering that their work forces need skills that
seem to be in short supply, skills over and above the basic academic triumvirate of
reading, writing and computation. The skills that employers are looking for include
problem solving, personal management, and interpersonal skills as well as the abili-
ties to conceptualize, organize and verbalize thoughts; to resolve conflicts; and to
work in teams — all of these skills are critical but often lacking.
Their book provides a wealth of information on the sixteen clusters of skills they
found employers demanding. A strong theme through all these clusters was the
ability to work and solve problems effectively with groups. Employees need to
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develop skills which help them meet new challenges and make productive
contributions when working in teams.
The movement to develop skills and abilities of teamwork, creative thinking and
problem solving is not restricted to U.S. industrial or organizational settings. The
movement is occurring on an international level (Colemont, Grøholt, Rickards, &
Smeekes, 1988; Grønhaug & Kaufmann, 1988), throughout our educational institu-
tions (Deal, 1990; Isaksen, 1988b; Isaksen & Parnes, 1985; Tuerck, 1987) and
within the public sector (Merritt & Merritt, 1985). This increased attention on
group creative problem solving has a high degree of relevance for school
improvement initiatives, organizational effectiveness, as well as the quality and
continuous improvement movement within organizations.
The purpose of this paper is to provide useful information for facilitators of Creative
Problem Solving, in other words those interested in using groups to understand
problems and challenges, generate ideas and plan to put these ideas into action.
This information will include a brief description of Creative Problem Solving; the
roles of facilitator, client and resource-group member; as well as a variety of group
management issues. The paper will close with some suggestions for those who have
recently learned Creative Problem Solving and would like to facilitate its use with
others.
Creative Problem Solving
One of the ways to promote group creativity is through the effective facilitation of
Creative Problem Solving (CPS). CPS is a broadly applicable process that provides
an organizing framework or system for designing or developing new and useful out-
comes. CPS enables individuals and groups to recognize and act on opportunities,
respond to challenges, and overcome concerns.
CPS is not merely "problem solving." The creative aspect to CPS means the focus is
on facing new challenges. It means seeing these new challenges as opportunities;
dealing with unknown or ambiguous situations and productively managing the
tension caused by gaps between your vision of future reality and actual current
reality. A few of my colleagues prefer to use the terms "Creative Opportunity-
Finding" as opposed to CPS, but I feel the "creative" modifier means that we are not
concerned with the reproductive, menial or mundane kind of problem solving
(Isaksen, In preparation). Learning and applying CPS is a means towards
understanding and nurturing the creativity residing in each of us.
CPS is a broadly applicable process providing an organizing framework for specific
thinking techniques to help design and develop new and useful outcomes for
meaningful and important challenges, concerns and opportunities (Isaksen, Dorval
& Treffinger, 1994). CPS is an operational model for a particular kind of problem
solving where creativity is applicable for the task at hand.
There are many creative problem-solving procedures designed to assist groups to
solve problems and meet goals effectively (Egan, 1988; Isaksen & Treffinger, 1985;
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VanGundy, 1981). It is beyond the scope of this paper to review these procedures
(see Isaksen, 1988a, Price, 1985, and Stein, 1975, for more information). Rather,
this paper focuses on the notion that these procedures can assist the group in being
more deliberate and explicit in better understanding the nature of challenges,
opportunities and problems; generating options; and analyzing, evaluating and
implementing them. These creative problem-solving techniques have been used in
business and industrial settings (Basadur, Graen & Green, 1982; Basadur &
Finkbeiner, 1985; Gryskiewicz, 1981) as well as educational organizations (Isaksen
& Parnes, 1985). There are also many training programs in creative problem
solving available through the Center for Creative Leadership, the Center for
Studies in Creativity, the Creative Education Foundation, the Center for Creative
Learning as well as a host of other organizations.
Throughout this paper, the words "creative problem solving" will sometimes appear
with capital letters. When you see these words in lower case letters, they refer to
efforts made by individuals or groups to think creatively in order to solve a problem;
when the words appear as Creative Problem Solving or CPS, I'm referring to the
specific problem-solving framework discussed in this paper.
There is an abundance of models and approaches to creative problem solving (Costa,
1985; Gordon & Poze, 1981; Kepner & Tregoe, 1981; McPherson, 1968; Prince, 1970;
Sampson, 1965). Some models are rather prescriptive in that they attempt to give
the user a detailed map with a particular pre-planned route highlighted for use.
Other approaches tend to be descriptive in that they will provide the user a map or
framework he or she can use to find their own way. Whether the model is
prescriptive or descriptive all models attempt to outline the stages of thinking or
problem solving and provide some indication of the techniques which might be
utilized along these stages.
Figure One: Components of CPS
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Our current componential view of CPS (Isaksen, Dorval & Treffinger, 1994)
describes three main components for CPS (see Figure 1). Understanding the
Problem includes seeking opportunities and establishing goals for problem-solving
efforts, examining the present status of a context or situation from many different
perspectives, and considering many possible problem statements to identify the
possible pathways to pursue for solving the problem. Generating Ideas includes
generating many, varied and unusual ideas and identifying those ideas which seem
promising or have interesting potential. Planning for Action is concerned with
transforming ideas into action. Criteria for analyzing and refining promising
possibilities are identified and then used to select, strengthen and support the
promising tentative solutions. In addition, emphasis is placed on considering pos-
sible sources of assistance and resistance, as well as formulating and implementing
a specific plan of action. These three components are used in any order or sequence
to best help the client develop an understanding of the program, generate al-
ternatives or transform ideas into action.
CPS is a flexible model that's components and stages can be used in any sequence–
but it is not a panacea, it must be used on tasks that are appropriate. Therefore,
before CPS can be most effectively applied, two activities, Task Appraisal and
Process Planning, must take place. Task Appraisal is concerned with making sure
CPS is appropriate to the task; during Task Appraisal, the key players, the desired
outcome, the characteristics of the situation, and the possible methods for handling
the task are considered. During Process Planning, the goal is to clarify how each of
the key players will be involved in solving the task and identify the most effective
entry point into the CPS framework for problem solving.
The important point is that there are many methods and techniques which can be
used by a group facilitator to help the group be more effective in balancing creative
and critical thinking to provide a more effective type of group problem solving. Our
current approach to CPS requires the use of both creative (divergent) and critical
(convergent) thinking to generate and communicate meaningful new connections as
well as to analyze, select and develop new possibilities. Knowing and applying
these group procedures is a significant challenge for the trainer, teacher, manager,
facilitator, supervisor, executive or anyone interested in utilizing group resources.
There are many factors for the facilitator of CPS to consider when planning to pro-
ductively utilize groups. Knowledge of the actual procedures and how they work is
the primary set of competencies upon which to build. This knowledge and personal
experience in applying the techniques can strengthen the facilitator's
understanding of why certain methods may result in certain types of outcomes.
Over time, this facilitation expertise can be expanded upon and shared more
deliberately with others.
CPS provides a unique context within which to examine leadership and group
dynamics. Hackman (1990) sets forth three basic attributes which must be present
if the label, "work group," is to be applied. Groups using CPS are real groups in
that they are intact social systems with boundaries, interdependence and
differentiated roles among members. They have specified tasks to perform and
responsibility to produce outcomes. CPS groups operate within a larger social
context in that there is usually clientship for challenges and opportunities on which
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CPS is applied. These clients have responsibility to implement and use the
outcomes provided by the group. Although effective application of CPS is not
limited to groups, some of the most powerful benefits of using CPS can be
materialized with small-group application. Consideration should be given to
readiness of the group to use various techniques.
The facilitator role: Group-oriented leadership
There are many views and approaches to understanding the concept of leadership.
One of the earliest was to focus on the attributes, traits and characteristics of effec-
tive leaders. Another approach examined the style of leadership or the balance be-
tween concern for task and concern for people. Recently, we have been searching to
understand the situation and contingencies for the productive application of leader-
ship. Whatever your approach to studying leadership one thing is clear: leadership
is related to followership. Gardner (1990) indicated:
Leadership is such a gripping subject that once it is given center stage it draws at-
tention away from everything else. But attention to leadership alone is sterile–and
inappropriate. The larger topic of which leadership is a sub-topic is the accomplish-
ment of group purpose, which is furthered not only by effective leaders, but also by
innovators, entrepreneurs and thinkers; by the availability of resources; by questions
of morale and social cohesion; and by much else…
Clark and Clark (1994) indicated that taking a leadership role involves a conscious
choice and commitment to lead. In describing this choice, the Clarks also outline a
few of the tasks that come with the commitment:
In every case, leadership occurs only when one chooses to lead. To make that choice
means that the leader mobilizes the talents and energies of the total group to address
a problem, complete a task, or achieve a mission. The leader facilitates. The leader
clarifies. The leader inspires. The leader resolves conflicts. The followers of such a
leader comment that they exert more effort for the leader, that the leader clarifies
the importance of each person’s role and is concerned that each person will develop
and grow as a result of the experience, and that the organization will improve and
prosper (page vii).
If a decision is made to involve a group in CPS, it is helpful if the style of the leader
is consistent with the notion of group participation. It would be counterproductive
if the leader were to autocratically order all group members to participate and to
insist that they enjoy it. It is also important to understand the unique style and
skills necessary for effective facilitation. This special type of group-oriented
leadership role focuses on the release and effective utilization of group resources.
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Figure Two: Model for Facilitating CPS
During a typical CPS session, there are three roles present: client, resource group
members and facilitator (see Figure 2). Clients are responsible for managing the
content direction of the session. They are the problem owners responsible for
addressing the task and use their knowledge and expertise to guide the content in
the desired direction to create specific outcome(s). Resource-group members take
part in a CPS session when clients need help with dealing with a task. They use
their diverse knowledge and varying perspectives to provide clients with many,
varied and unusual alternatives.
The facilitator is the person who takes primary responsibility for the process and
procedures with which the group will be involved. The facilitator structures and
prepares the environment, acts as a catalyst for releasing and focusing the efforts of
group members, uses appropriate methods and techniques, and is sensitive to the
variety of group dynamics. For more information regarding the role and
responsibilities of the facilitator, see Firestien & Treffinger (1983a), Isaksen (1983)
and Treffinger & Firestien (1989).
The responsibilities of the facilitator are rather complex. An effective CPS facilita-
tor must also be an excellent trainer or teacher, as well as a situational leader.
When groups first get together to use CPS some energy must be invested in helping
them understand the basic ground-rules, roles and specialized "language"
associated with CPS. As the group members become competent and committed, the
facilitator can move them into the application of CPS. It is when the group is
actually working on a specific task where the facilitator has a highly complex
challenge. When the group is actually working in context, it becomes very difficult
to keep the focus on process; the group will naturally focus a great deal of attention
on the content of the situation. The facilitator will need to be the one person
(perhaps along with a "process-buddy") who is committed to focusing on the process
in which the group is engaged.
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Characteristics of an effective CPS facilitator
There are many attributes of the effective facilitator of CPS. Parnes (1985) used the
term facilitator to identify:
the leader who draws out, reinforces and facilitates the creative learning, develop-
ment and problem solving of the people with whom he or she is working. The person
facilitating creative behavior is aware of the creative process and first understands it
in himself or herself, and then is able to help others see and strengthen it in them-
selves.
The word "facilitator" means a variety of things to different people. Facilitators can
often be viewed negatively–as nothing more than meeting planners responsible for
managing logistics, passive supporters who respond to emergent needs, or flipchart
secretaries who record the content of what is discussed during a meeting. In worst-
case scenarios, facilitators can be used as "scapegoats" for blame when a meeting is
not productive or simply as cheerleaders who are on the side with no real purpose.
For those of us concerned with the teaching and application of CPS, however, the
concept of facilitation has a special meaning. One of the best ways to describe the
concept is to identify those important attributes or qualities it contains. The
following characteristics have been identified as key abilities and skills associated
with effective facilitation of CPS; the list is in no particular order of importance, nor
as it is presented, complete.
Has process awareness and expertise
Aside from all the other abilities and skills that would help the facilitator communi-
cate and effectively manage the interaction between a variety of individual roles,
the awareness of a variety of methods and techniques for use during a creative
problem-solving session is an important attribute of a CPS facilitator. Having the
ability to use a diversity of tools provides the facilitator with an efficient means of
meeting the needs of a client by fully utilizing the resources of the group.
The CPS facilitator possesses a clear and productive understanding of the
conceptual framework of CPS. This would include knowing the specialized CPS
terminology and guidelines, the subtle differences among the concepts of the CPS
framework, components, stages, phases and tools. In addition, the facilitator will
need to make decisions about the effective application of the many CPS tools. It is
also quite helpful to have a number of other process languages at your disposal. For
example, it is very helpful to be able to make connections between CPS and
Targeted Innovation, Synectics, or Kepner-Tregoe. Some people may not have had
direct training in CPS, but have had some experience with another process model.
While the group is learning about CPS, preparing to apply the tools and actually en-
gaged in problem solving, the facilitator must be able to maintain an awareness of
the group process and dynamics as well as keep an eye on the time, energy, and
client's needs. In short, the facilitator must be able to juggle quite a few issues at
once. The major expertise necessary for CPS facilitation is the ability to set an
appropriate environment by removing barriers to effective use of personal and
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group creativity and accelerating progress toward the end in view. Having
awareness and expertise with the Creative Problem Solving process helps to remove
barriers and improve the environment for creativity.
Is clear about role
The facilitator also has the responsibility of managing productive interaction with
both the client(s) and the resource-group members. In theory, there is a sharp and
clear difference among the three social roles of facilitator, client and resource-group.
However, when groups are engaged in CPS, these roles become less clear and man-
ageable. The role of the CPS facilitator encompasses teaching and leading as well
as managing the other social roles of client and resource group.
In a sense, the facilitator must function as a "participant-observer" within the
group. When needed, the facilitator provides the necessary process intervention
from a content and CPS perspective, but must always have the clear awareness of
the purpose and goal of the session.
Has people skills
The CPS facilitator must feel comfortable with a social role which involves a great
deal of interaction with other people. Facilitators need to be able to deal effectively
with group dynamics, interpersonal skills and communication. Handling those
sudden changes of course which groups often provide offers a constant source of
challenge to those who choose to work with others. An effective facilitator knows
how to observe and utilize the interest and motivation of others toward productive
outcomes.
Manages content-process balance
It is important for the facilitator to be able to listen to a client and understand the
context enough to comprehend the nature of the problem or challenge. In a sense
this means being a "quick study" for the main ideas and key data within the domain
of the client. It is probably quite helpful for the facilitator to have a broad
background and a good general vocabulary to help acquire knowledge from a variety
of contexts. More importantly, managing the balance between becoming an expert
within the specific problem domain and offering appropriate process interventions is
a major area of judgment for the CPS facilitator.
Leverages personal experience
The effective CPS facilitator can draw upon a wealth of personal experiences which
illustrate key learnings about the process. Some of the most learnable moments oc-
cur when a CPS facilitator can share with others specific interactions and events
and the rich key learnings they provide. These actual examples really help others
learn the value and most productive use of CPS technology. Providing these
examples illustrates that it is necessary to have trust in the process. Sharing these
experiences also provides a role model of healthy intellectual competence coupled
with genuine and personal disclosure.
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Not only is it necessary to have access to past experiences, making good use of cur-
rent learning opportunities is one of the best ways to insure future productivity. It
is possible to learn from current programs and process interventions provided by
the facilitators.
Manages divergence-convergence balance
A central dynamic to manage when facilitating CPS is knowing how to diverge as
well as how and when to stop diverging. Bringing divergence to a close is not
synonymous with convergence. Making the transition to productive application of
convergent thinking is a key challenge. Having a deep understanding of the
guidelines for generating options as well as analyzing, developing and refining
options is a key initial step.
If there is one technique which is the most widely known, it surely is brainstorming.
However, it is also quite clear that many people equate brainstorming with the
entire CPS framework. It is important to maintain conceptual as well as practical
balance when learning and applying CPS. It is nearly unbelievable that many
creativity practitioners are still hung up with equating creativity with divergence!
Most organizations with which I am familiar have no shortage of ideas, they do
have tremendous needs for focus and follow-through.
Has appropriate personal qualities
There are a wide variety of specific personal qualities associated with effective CPS
facilitators. I am certain that there is no particular mold from which all excellent
CPS facilitators will be formed. However, there are some broad personal character-
istics which are likely to be held in a diversity of individuals and in unique ways.
Some include: being able to show enthusiasm and having a genuinely-optimistic
attitude; having positive beliefs about creativity; having enough belief-in-self to be
able to ask the group for help (self-confident enough to indicate how much you don't
know!); having a sense of humor; and a high degree of personal integrity.
Manages logistics
A major responsibility of the facilitator is the establishment and management of a
productive learning and thinking environment. Being able to manage the planning
of a wide range of details is very helpful. Some of these logistical issues include:
having a variety of available resources; arranging the sitting so that there is
adequate eye contact; preparing people to dress casually (where appropriate);
demonstrating to those involved in the training and group sessions that their needs
have been considered and many others.
Dealing with logistics is often minimized as an important quality of effective CPS
facilitators. The larger issue is maintaining an appropriate balance between
strategy and tactics. There have been sessions that have not worked as
productively as they might have because no one was concerned with making sure
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there was a flipchart or markers or had the ability to hold an effective planning
meeting.
Can teach and train
Before CPS facilitators engage individuals or groups in CPS, they must be certain
that they are as prepared as possible to help the people benefit from the process in-
teraction. One of the most important roles a facilitator can perform is that of educa-
tor–bringing out that which is within.
It may be necessary for groups who are in a position to apply CPS to know it’s lan-
guage, guidelines and tools. This may mean providing individualized opportunities
for people to develop the necessary understanding for effectively applying CPS. It
can mean designing and providing very explicit large-scale training programs to
prepare for CPS. It can also mean providing brief instructions related to language
and tool use during a CPS session.
Matches style to situation
The facilitator must be able to manage the transition from teaching and training to
actual engagement on a real challenge. This requires that those involved know
enough about what they need to do and are ready to apply CPS. This requires a se-
ries of assessments regarding the competence and commitment of group members to
effectively use CPS. One of the worst mistakes to be made is to assume that be-
cause everyone knows how to brainstorm, that they are ready for effective applica-
tion of CPS technology.
A situational approach to providing leadership is absolutely necessary. Moving
individuals and groups from a learning mode to a doing mode, and then reflecting
on that which was done takes a special level of expertise and lots of practice.
Managing the client
It is important for group members to know that their efforts have some meaning
and relevance. This can be achieved only if someone within the group has a sincere
interest in implementing the solutions the group generates. Thus, the facilitator
interacts with a client. This is the individual who has decision-making authority or
ownership over a particular situation or challenge. The role of client in CPS groups
supplies content-related expertise and provides convergence and decision making
during the group’s session. The client helps to keep the group on track by clarifying
the situation, choosing directions and approaches, and participating in the group’s
session. In the final analysis, it’s the client who needs to have a problem solved or
an opportunity reached. Therefore, the role of client is an important one in
determining the effectiveness and productivity of the group’s effort. (For more
information on the client’s role see Firestien & Treffinger, 1983b.)
Clients need guidance from the facilitator for making choices and judging at
appropriate times, and they need to have support for permitting, encouraging and
participating in the divergent activities of the group. Clients must demonstrate
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sincere interest in working with the group and process to bring about change. For
clientship to be present, there must be room for a new approach or fresh idea which
the client is willing and able to implement. The client must also have enough clear
influence to implement the outcomes of the CPS process. This type of ownership
builds commitment to the group process and helps in the development of effective
groups.
The role of client helps to provide the group access to a clear definition of the task at
hand. The client shares the most important background data and provides other in-
formation the group needs to know before proceeding. Elements of the client’s task
must be specified and have clear connection to his or her responsibilities. In short,
the client provides much the expertise necessary for productive problem solving.
Many times it is possible to identify one clear client. At other times, the ownership
is distributed among a group. More broadly, there are some challenges and
opportunities that have widely distributed ownership. For example, all of us are
currently concerned about global warming or the threat of nuclear destruction.
Managing group clientship provides the facilitator an even more complicated
challenge. Usually, group clientship requires special attention to the convergent
aspects of CPS. It may be necessary to modify the process technology, the time-
frame within which the group will work, and other factors when working with more
than one client.
Characteristics of an effective client
First, a distinction must be drawn between client and clientship. A client is a
person who has a particular social role before, during and after a CPS session.
Clientship is synonymous with ownership. Ownership implies that there is:
sufficient motivation or interest to work on the problem or challenge; there is
sufficient authority, responsibility or influence to take action; and there is a need to
consider novel approaches which require the use of imagination. In addition to
ownership, there are a number of other characteristics held by many of the most
effective clients with whom we have worked. A few of the more important of these
characteristics are described below.
Genuinely interested in taking action
Effective clients are interested and motivated to deal with the problem situation.
They display a positive attitude and commitment by attending all and actively
participating in planning meetings and group sessions as well as by taking action
on the outcomes of meetings. They actively seek involvement and contribution from
others.
Has authority and responsibility for problem situation
Effective clients have the authority and responsibility to take action on the problem
situation. They are able to engage in CPS, see value in its use and take action on
its outcomes. It is possible for a client to be a "sole proprietor" as well as a "stake-
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holder." Ownership may be closely held or widely distributed. In either case, the
actual level of responsibility and breadth of accountability for implementation must
be clearly identified.
Willing to change or modify paradigms
Effective clients are willing to change or modify existing ways of doing tasks. They
consciously seek novel and imaginative outcomes. They promote the involvement of
"outsiders" as resources to assist in providing a diversity of novel perspectives.
Committed to the use of CPS
Effective clients understand the value of CPS and are willing to provide the time,
energy and planning necessary for productive outcomes. They see value in all three
CPS roles (client, facilitator and resource group) and take the responsibilities
associated with their role seriously. They actively collaborate with facilitators to
plan, deliver and debrief the CPS session.
Trusts CPS process
Clients often become involved in CPS activities with which they may not be
familiar. Effective clients trust the process in that they follow the guidelines and
principles necessary to provide the desired outcome or result. They remain open to
the generation of novel and unusual perspectives and tolerate the ambiguity which
might accompany the use of certain CPS principles and techniques.
Flexible in thinking and perceptions
It is often necessary to "shift gears" and pursue new avenues or directions.
Effective clients remain open to the changes in direction. They listen and accept
different approaches taken during various stages and phases of CPS. They stay
open to the fact that they might "change their mind."
Has good people skills
Effective clients have the ability to make others feel at home and supported. They
"read" the facilitator and resource-group members and know when and how to re-
spond. They maintain an appropriate level of eye contact with others, listen
carefully to options, their non-verbal behavior matches the purpose of the session as
well as their verbal comments; and they provide an appropriate level of
encouragement without smothering or controlling the session.
Has integrity
Effective clients have a strong set of beliefs in the value of diversity and the impor-
tance of unleashing human creativity. They see value in working with people to
identify and solve problems. They see people are part of the solution, not the
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problem. They are honest in dealing with others and themselves. When the
possibility of a "hidden agenda" emerges, they are able to identify it openly and find
productive alternative approaches.
Has expertise in the problem area
Productive CPS outcomes can often be influenced by the knowledge level and
experience of the client. Effective clients are knowledgeable in the problem area to
the point that they can communicate the nature of the situation in a simplistic and
understandable manner. In effect, they know their area so well that they could
describe it to an eight-year-old child. The client's knowledge and expertise is often
necessary for making some sense out of the novel perspectives generated during
CPS. There may be special applications of CPS with groups of experts within a
particular content domain. Generally, however, if there must be an expert in most
CPS sessions, it should often be the client.
Has process awareness
Effective clients are willing to learn and understand the CPS process. They have a
general level of awareness of the roles of a CPS session, how the techniques will
operate, and can effectively communicate with the facilitator and the resource group
using CPS language. After applying the process, they often engage in a post-session
meeting designed to provide feedback about the general level of productivity,
identify the outcomes which were most useful and intriguing, how the techniques
generated the variety of outcomes, and able to identify if and how the application of
the CPS process added value.
Effective clients often take the responsibility for communicating these learnings to
the facilitator and the resource-group participants. They see the entire affair
through a systems approach. They actively seek out productive learning from the
investment everyone has made in the CPS session.
Prepare for CPS
One of the most effective ways a facilitator can manage a client to help ensure the
successful application of CPS is to engage in Task Appraisal and Process Planning.
The purpose of conducting Task Appraisal is to determine whether or not CPS is ap-
propriate for a given task. To answer this question, the key people involved in the
task, the situation or context in which the task exists, and the desired outcomes re-
sulting from the intervention are all examined. The purpose of Process Planning is
to determine, if appropriate, how CPS should be used. During process planning,
specific clientship (ownership) is confirmed; CPS roles (client, facilitator and re-
source-group member) are clarified; a process starting point (a particular CPS
component or stage) is located; and preparations are made for applying CPS
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(individually or with a group). It may be helpful to consider the following
suggestions when engaging in Task Appraisal and Process Planning.
Task Appraisal
The initial interaction between the client and facilitator is very important to insure
a match between the CPS process technology and the actual task upon which the
client wants to work. If the results of Task Appraisal suggest CPS is inappropriate
for a task, then it may be necessary to suggest alternative methods for dealing with
the task such as checking available literature, using existing or previous solutions
from history, or hiring a consultant to address the task. There is no magic to the
productive application of CPS. Task Appraisal provides an opportunity to make
sure, before you begin applying CPS, that the application fits the problem-solving
need. The following activities will be helpful in conducting Task Appraisal (see
Figure 3).
Figure Three: Task Appraisal
Identify and examine who is involved in the task
To determine if CPS is appropriate for a given task, it is important to identify and
examine the key individuals and groups involved in the task. This is more than
simply identifying who is involved in the task. It includes understanding how they
are involved and their impact on the task.
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The facilitator and client work together to identify and understand who
the key players are and what they are like.
The facilitator and client examine the nature of the clientship and deter-
mine its depth and breath.
The facilitator asks questions to determine the client’s level of ownership.
The facilitator determines with the client whether those involved have
enough knowledge and expertise.
Identify desired outcomes
Task Appraisal also provides the opportunity to become familiar with the client’s
desired outcome or intended results of their problem-solving efforts. The nature of
the outcomes will help determine if CPS should be used. For example, if the client
does not want anything new or novel, then CPS should not be used and another
methodology suggested.
The facilitator asks the client to describe the desired outcome and identify
it’s key qualities.
The facilitator asks the client to describe the kind of novelty desired
(short-term continuous improvement vs. long-term paradigm shift).
The facilitator and the client discuss the importance and immediacy of the
task.
Examine the situational outlook
The needs and general context in which the task is located will provide you with im-
portant information to consider before involving yourself in the task. Examining
the context helps you understand the likelihood of action resulting from your efforts
and the application of CPS. It also provides an understanding of the opportunities
that exist for CPS application.
The facilitator has the client discuss the situation surrounding the task.
The client shares information about the availability of adequate resources,
information and support for dealing with the task.
The facilitator asks the client to describe the general working climate in-
volved in the task arena.
The client shares the strategic priorities surrounding the task.
Determine the appropriate methodology
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With a better general understanding of the people, the situation and the desired
outcome, you are in a better position to determine whether or not CPS is
appropriate for the task. You may find that you have the right people, who want a
new and useful outcome, in a situation that requires change. This situation may be
appropriate for CPS. However, the results of your Task Appraisal may show that
the people you are dealing with do not have the appropriate level of ownership, that
a solution is readily available, or that priorities in the task situation suggest no
action will be taken on the task. In these cases, CPS may not be appropriate and a
different methodology suggested.
The facilitator asks the client to identify what methodologies are currently
being used to deal with the task.
The facilitator and client discuss the costs and benefits of using CPS.
The facilitator and client determine if they know enough about CPS to ef-
fectively apply it.
The facilitator determines if CPS is appropriate for the given task or are
other methodologies besides CPS recommended.
Process Planning
If CPS is determined to be appropriate for a given task, it is necessary to develop an
effective plan for its application. Since CPS is a broad and flexible framework, it is
necessary to tailor its use for the task. The following activities are helpful when
conducting Process Planning.
Confirm specific clientship
Although the nature of clientship may have been examined during Task Appraisal,
it may be helpful and necessary to confirm that the task owner has appropriate
levels of interest, influence and need for imagination. If the client does not have
sufficient levels of these three things, it may be necessary to modify the task to
create ownership or to work with a different person, one who has the appropriate
levels of interest, influence and need for imagination.
The facilitator confirms that the client has the appropriate level of interest,
motivation or passion for working on the task.
The facilitator confirms that the client has enough clout or leverage to imple-
ment and take action based on the results of the CPS application.
The facilitator confirms that the client has a need for engaging in the
imagination to develop new or unique approaches to dealing with the task.
Clarify roles for applying CPS
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When preparing to apply CPS, particularly in a group setting, it is important that
all those involved understand their role and related responsibilities. For example,
the client needs to know that when applying CPS the facilitator will not be
contributing content suggestions or making decisions about content. The client
needs to understand that he or she is primarily responsible for making content-
related decisions and determining the direction and flow of the session’s content. If
CPS is applied using a resource group, then they need to be informed of their
responsibilities related to supporting the client during the session. Although
resource-group members do not necessarily need to be experts in the task content,
they do need to know enough about the task to be helpful.
• The facilitator and the client meet to discuss their respective roles and re-
sponsibilities.
Client and facilitator work together to identify and select resource group
members if CPS is applied in a group setting.
A plan is made to brief the resource group on the results of the Task
Appraisal and Process Planning prior to the session.
Locate your CPS process starting point
It's important to use the client's expertise on the task to develop the most
productive CPS process intervention. This includes identifying the most effective
starting point on the CPS process. There are three components and six stages
where you can enter, depending upon the needs of the task. For example, if the
need is for identifying a future direction for change, understanding current reality
or identifying pathways to move an existing situation into something new, then the
Understanding the Problem component is most appropriate in which to start. If the
need is to gather ideas for solving a specific problem, then the Generating Ideas
component may be most appropriate. If the need is to make decisions about options,
strengthen promising alternatives or develop an effective implementation plan,
then the Planning for Action component may be most appropriate.
The facilitator asks the client questions to determine which component to
enter in the CPS process.
The facilitator works with the client to determine and design the meeting
agenda based upon the process needs.
The facilitator and client work together to determine the appropriate uti-
lization of a resource group in the process design.
A plan is devised to communicate the results of the session with resource-
group participants (memos, videos, graphics, samples).
Plan for session and logistics
There are many additional things you can do to increase the likelihood of a
productive CPS session. One of the most tangible ways to prepare for the session is
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to think about the actual physical arrangements for the meeting. This is especially
important if you will be using group resources. A convenient way to deal with these
concerns is simply hire a meeting planner. If this is not an option for you, consider
the following information.
The facilitator helps the client prepare for the actual session (include the
use of audio-visual aids, charts or pictures).
The facilitator and the client discuss the criteria for group membership
and the appropriate limits for diversity of perspectives.
The facilitator coaches the client regarding the appropriate behaviors to
be used during the CPS session.
The facilitator briefs the client on the CPS technology to be used during
the session.
Resource-group members are invited and informed of the purpose, time
and location for the session. The invitation memo may also provide a brief
summary of the client's task, desired outcome for the session and
rationale for using CPS.
Room arrangements should be made to be conducive to the purpose of the
session (visibility of flipcharts, eye contact with group members).
Support materials should be arranged (including technique handouts,
Post-it® pads, markers).
Facilitator and client should establish and agree upon an appropriate time
line.
Plan to debrief the session
One of the most productive ways to learn from the investment of time, energy and
other resources which were used during the CPS session is to plan to capture the
key learnings and identify the most and least productive aspects from the
experience. This will be very helpful in your future work with that particular client
and with many future clients.
Check points for monitoring and evaluating the outcomes of the session
should be prearranged between client and facilitator.
Goals for the session should be made explicit in order to determine if the
session was a success.
A plan should be developed for handling the output of the session.
The issue of giving feedback to participants is discussed. If required, a plan
to deliver feedback is developed.
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An actual debriefing session is planned to identify key strengths and areas
for improvement.
Tips for Conducting Task Appraisal and Process Planning
Listen CarefullyThis is your opportunity to check out the client's perception
of the challenge and insure their comprehension of the planning process.
Encourage your client to say back in their own words what you are sharing.
Be willing to "just say no" Negotiate the session very carefully. Sometimes
the best thing you can do is identify that CPS is not the most effective approach for
the client. It is often helpful to build in some incubation time after conducting Task
Appraisal and Process Planning to enable you to determine if CPS is appropriate, if
you are working with the appropriate client, and if you are the person to facilitate
the session.
• Make it deliberate and explicit Task Appraisal and Process Planning should
be considered an explicit and deliberate step in the effective planning and use of
CPS. A Task Appraisal and Process Planning meeting should not be sandwiched
between two more important meetings or given a lower priority than the typical
stream of work that confronts any busy professional. After conducting a number of
Task Appraisal and Process Planning activities, you may find it helpful to develop
your own personal protocol including a special form to be filled out or a checklist to
share with the client. Keep it deliberate and explicit.
Be prepared Be ready to share some examples of successful sessions and
identify what you think made them work so well. You may also find it helpful to
have a few worst-case examples to show what can happen if certain aspects of
planning are not dealt with successfully. It may also be useful to provide your
client a list of references of the actual clients in these examples. (This is another
reason for the importance of debriefing and making this kind of arrangement with
your clients.)
Use a process buddy It can be very important, especially for the first few
times, to ask a more experienced (or equally experienced) facilitator to join you for
the planning meeting. Just having another pair of eyes and ears can help avoid
some of the pitfalls and maximize the value of time invested.
Bring support materials You may find it very helpful to have some key
handouts you used when learning about or applying CPS. Do not consider this
cheating, just excellent evidence of preplanning. Key handouts or graphics can help
you make your point and help to keep you on track. Try assembling your own
personal facilitator survival kit.
General tips for managing clients
Keep the ownership where it belongs Sometimes clients may want to
share the actual problem with you. Watch out for the monkey being placed on your
back. Although clients can be very desperate and need to use CPS very much, care
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needs to be taken that they do not use you to "whip the group into shape" or "do the
dirty work."
Do not be afraid to call a "time-out" If your client presented a false front
during your planning activities and pulls out a few major surprises during a CPS
session, you may need to create the opportunity for an honest revisit of the
expectations you set. Calling a "time-out" is infinitely better than trying to run the
wrong session.
Check the credibility of your client – Almost anyone can present a facade for
an hour or so. It may be very helpful to check your perceptions with a few savvy in-
siders prior to the session. The client may play favorites with the selection of the
resource group, may be known for certain inappropriate behaviors which you would
want to prepare for, or could be known to be uninterested in self-awareness and
couldn't have prepared you for these planning aspects.
Check, check and recheck ownership If there is one most important factor
in a successful CPS session is that it must be real. If your client has a list of things
that would never work, does not appreciate "soft science," or has no intention of act-
ing or responding to the outcomes of the session you may need to walk away, post-
pone or re-negotiate.
Stay down to earth A client can sometimes see your process expertise as
magic and treat you like a magician. This can often give you quite an ego lift.
Watch out for playing into this one! Although it may be hard and you may have a
great deal of charm, charisma or other talent, try to keep your work in the arena of
what is natural, deliberate and repeatable. I remember a session where I was
talking about God's creativity and while I was talking (in a tall observation tower) I
told the group that I reserved the number ten for the kind of creativity that God
provides. At that very moment, the lightening struck and thunder roared. A few
people in the group asked me if I could do that again! It would have been very sad
if I had actually tried!
Try to reward good client behavior In building an effective relationship
with your client find opportunities to:
Say thank you: write thank-you notes, just say thanks, have their boss send
thank you letters or memos.
Remember their needs: send them articles or resources as follow up to your
session, practice some networking to connect others to your client, etc.
Talk about them to other groups: spread the work about their productivity.
Drop in for an informal visit to just say "hi."
The Resource Group
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The other members of a CPS group are called participants and they function collec-
tively as the resource group. These resource-group members suggest options and
provide a wide range of alternatives during a CPS session. Effective resource-group
members show an interest in the client’s content, but do not make decisions for the
client. They support the decisions the client makes and provide a divergent range
of possibilities from which the client can choose. In short, they practice effective
listening strategies and find ways to make productive contributions to the problem-
solving session.
Resource-group members provide energy, diversity of experience, and a variety of
viewpoints. The facilitator’s challenge is to capitalize on the group’s assets and
limit their liabilities by providing the necessary balance of creative and critical
thinking processes in meeting the needs or goals of the client. Effective use of CPS
requires a dynamic balance between using deferment of judgment to diverge and
generate options and using affirmative judgment to converge, analyze and develop
options.
Another major challenge to the CPS facilitator is to effectively balance and reinforce
the roles of facilitator, client, and resource group. Part of this responsibility
includes making these roles explicit for all group members so that everyone knows
what is expected of them. Although it is beyond the scope of this paper to
thoroughly examine the functional roles of group members (see Benne and Sheats,
1948; Isaksen, 1983), these three roles provide the basic interpersonal framework
for facilitating CPS in groups.
Deciding to use a group
Many people who have attempted to use groups for developing novel and useful
alternatives find out that using groups is not always easy, pleasurable or effective.
Using groups has both positive and negative aspects.
In considering whether or not to use a group for obtaining a better understanding of
the situation, generating options, or making a decision the facilitator needs to pay
attention to a number of key factors. These factors include: aspects of group
development; the skills and styles of leadership; the roles of client and resource
group; group orientation, composition and size; process technology; and the
structure of the environment. In addition, the facilitator may need to consider the
required quality of the outcome as well as the needed level of acceptance from group
members.
Table 1, describing assets and liabilities of using groups, has been developed by
weaving together the work of Maier (1970), Vroom (1974), Van Gundy (1984):
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Table One: Potential Assets and Liabilities of Using a Group
When considering the use of small groups for CPS the facilitator needs to evaluate
the existence of the liabilities and assets. The goal is to maximize the positive as-
pects of group involvement while minimizing the liabilities. For example, as the
facilitator can increase the productive use of diversity the likelihood of individual
dominance should decrease. In general, if there is a need to provide for
participation to increase acceptance, if the information is widely held, if there is a
need to build on and synthesize the diverse range of experiences and perspectives or
if it is important to develop and strengthen the group's ability to learn, you may
choose to involve a group in CPS.
Group Development
Once the group leader has decided that the resources of a group should be convened,
there are a number of dynamics to consider. One of the first of these is the notion
that groups go through certain phases of development (Bales & Strodtbeck, 1951;
Lacoursiere, 1980; Tuckman, 1965). Groups are not static. Like individuals, they
are unique, dynamic, complex living systems, capable of learning and development.
Figure 4 depicts the Jones (1983) model for group development. According to this
model, the stages a group goes through while moving toward some desired goal are
relatively predictable and controllable. In reality, it is quite clear that in practice
these stages are not necessarily linear and sequential. Some groups seem to skip
stages, others will approach them in reverse order. Still others will reach a level
and need to begin all over again because a new member has joined the group. One
of the classic leadership dilemmas is getting the work done while at the same time
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maintaining positive human relations. It is this essential tension which is nicely
displayed below within the context of group development.
Figure Four: A Model for Group Development
Understanding where groups are and where you want them to be can be helpful in
planning for maximum effectiveness and productivity. The two dimensions of the
model are personal relations and task functions. In other models these dimensions
go by other names, but a number of people involved in group development have
identified these two dimensions as being central to the process. The classic
leadership dilemma is getting the work done while at the same time maintaining
positive human relations. Some balance is sought between concern for people and
concern for task (Blake & Mouton, 1964).
The personal relations dimension refers to the development of the "human side" of
the activity that occurs in the group. Whether it is a task group or a growth group,
people progress in development from individuals to group members. They move to
become people who feel some attachment to each other and finally, to people who
are able to link up in creative kinds of ways. Personal relations involve how people
feel about each other, how people expect each other to behave, the commitments
that people develop to each other, the kinds of assumptions that people make about
each other, and the kinds of problems people have in joining forces with each other
in order to get work done. The assumption is that the kinds of groups that are
referred to here are all organized for the purpose of achieving goals, tasks,
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production, etc. and that personal relations refers to the human component in the
accomplishing of this purpose.
The other dimension is task functions. Characteristic behaviors can also be
identified in the different stages of group development with regard to task. A group
comes together, learns what the task is, mobilizes to accomplish the task, and does
the work. So the two dimensions, personal relations and task functions, form a
matrix in which there is an interaction between characteristic human relations and
task-oriented behaviors at the various stages of group development. Of course, no
two-dimensional model can completely subsume all the data of group interaction
without a loss of some precision. The purpose of looking at group development in
this relatively simplistic way is to underline the importance, not only of the two
dimensions human and task but also to provide a common language whereby
group members can explore the emerging characteristics and parameters of the
group.
Stage one: Forming
In the initial stage, called forming, personal relations are characterized by depen-
dency, and the major task functions concern orientation. In the beginning of the
group’s life, the individual members must resolve a number of dependency problems
and characteristic behaviors on the personal relations dimension. They tend to de-
pend on the leader to provide all the structure: the group members lean on the
facilitator, chairman, or manager to set the ground rules, establish the agenda, and
to do all the "leading." The parallel stage in the task function to be accomplished is
the orientation of group members to the work that they are being asked to do. The
issues have to be specified. The nature of the work itself has to be explored so there
is a common understanding of what the group has been organized to do. Common
behavior at this point is questioning why we are here, what are we supposed to do,
how are we going to get it done, and what are our goals?
There are clear implications for the CPS facilitator when the group is at this stage
of group development. This is the stage where the skills associated with training
and teaching are critical. The CPS facilitator must take charge long enough to
provide a basic orientation for the group and lay out basic ground-rules for
operating together.
Stage two: Storming
Stage two is characterized by conflict in the personal relations dimension and
organization in the task functions dimension. It is referred to as "storming" because
interpersonal conflict inevitably ensues as a part of small group interaction. It may
be that the conflict remains hidden, but it is there. We bring to small group activity
a lot of our own unresolved conflicts with regard to authority, dependency, rules,
and agenda, and we experience interpersonal conflict as we organize to get work
done. Who is going to be responsible for what; what are going to be the rules; what
are going to be the limits; what is going to be the reward system; what are going to
be the criteria? The variety of organizational concerns that emerge reflect
interpersonal conflict over leadership structure, power, and authority.
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When learning and applying CPS, members of groups will often have different per-
spectives on the use of techniques or guidelines. Often questions are put forward
regarding the value or appropriateness of CPS. On the one hand, it is important for
this type of disagreement or questioning to occur. On the other hand, it must be
met with effective answers, explanations and modeling. The CPS facilitator must
be able to respond effectively to this kind of storming. Identifying the three roles,
having a good understanding of the needs of the client and selecting the group
members carefully can often pay dividends during this stage of group development.
Managing interpersonal tension regarding options or ideas is critical at this stage.
Keeping this kind of tension separate from personal tension where individuals
might attach the person to the idea is also important. Groups must often be helped
through this stage or they will not form into a more cohesive unit capable of high-
level performance. This is the stage at which effective application of situational
leadership is needed. Some members will be done with storming at different times.
Stage three: Norming
In stage three, the personal relations area is marked by cohesion, and the major
task function is data-flow. It is during this "norming" stage of development,
assuming the group gets this far, that the people begin to experience a sense of
"groupness," a feeling of clarification at having resolved interpersonal conflict. They
begin sharing ideas, feelings, giving feedback to each other, soliciting feedback,
exploring actions related to the task, and sharing information related to the task.
This becomes a period during which people feel good about what is going on; they
feel good about being a part of a group, and there is an emerging openness with
regard to task. Sometimes during stage three there is a brief abandonment of the
task and a period of play that is an enjoyment of the cohesion that is being
experienced.
When CPS groups reach this stage, it will be important for the facilitator to provide
some recognition and celebration of the success of the group. It would be analogous
to the feast following the hunt or the song after successfully managing a boat
through the white water. A major challenge for the facilitator is to channel this
positive energy onto the client's task. It is often at this stage that facilitators begin
to feel the energy and weight of the group whereas at earlier stages the goal
structures were more individualistic and competitive. Now the group may want to
cooperate on every task and get hung up when they can't be "…all for one and one
for all." Maintaining the focus on the CPS process while encouraging the meeting of
the client's need is the major task for the facilitator. The challenge is to let the
celebration of consensus last long enough to recharge and refocus the group, but not
too long so as to invest unnecessary energy in managing the group for the group's
own sake. CPS groups are not formed necessarily or solely as social support
systems.
Stage four: Performing
Stage four is rarely achieved by most groups. This fourth stage is called
"performing" and is marked by interdependence on the personal relations dimension
and problem solving on the task functions dimension. Interdependence means that
members can work singly, in any sub-grouping, or as a total unit. They are both
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highly task-oriented and highly person-oriented. The activities are marked by both
collaboration and functional competition. The group’s tasks are well defined, there
is high commitment to common activity, and there is support for experimentation
and risk-taking.
This is the stage at which the CPS facilitator can "push the boundaries" on applying
the process. In a sense, if the dynamics have been managed well, the CPS frame-
work ought to help more groups get to this stage of development. The performing
stage is what really fits the effective application of CPS. This is the stage where the
facilitator's challenge will be more focused on selecting the appropriate techniques
to "ride the wave." Observing the energy of the group, keeping them focused on the
task while understanding the reactions of the client become significant challenges
for the facilitator.
It is during the performing stage where individual members are both empowered
and aligned. They have a shared vision for why they are together and how they are
operating. It is at this point where it is appropriate to use the label "team." It is
important to remember that groups will not stay at this stage forever (nor should
they). During the norming process, the group has very probably formed around an
implicit set of assumptions. Occasionally, the facilitator will need to test the
boundaries or even question their existence.
Applying the model of group development
When applying the model it is important to remember that this is not a static de-
scription of how groups develop. In other words, it is highly unlikely that a
particular group would work their way through this process in a systematic
manner. Groups will continually develop. Each time a new member joins or a new
task is introduced, the development process begins anew.
Understanding some of the dynamics and patterns that occur within groups is
essential if a leader wants to diagnose and describe the current status of any group;
predict what might occur in the future; and provide behavior and influence which
might help the group move on to a more productive level of development. For the
leader of CPS activity, it is important to provide appropriate leadership strategies
to move the group beyond learning basic skills and how the CPS techniques can be
organized around components and process. The aim is productively applying these
learnings to real challenges and opportunities. Group development combined with
an appropriate understanding and application of leadership strategies can help CPS
groups reach higher levels of application (Carew, Parisi-Carew & Blanchard, 1984).
Managing groups
There are many challenges to the effective management of groups. We have all
seen groups that have "gone wrong." As a group develops, there are certain aspects
or guidelines which might be helpful to keep them on track. Hackman (1990) has
identified a number of themes relevant to those who design, lead and facilitate
groups. In examining a variety of organizational work groups, he found some "trip
Page 28
Isaksen – Facilitating Creative Problem Solving Groups
© The Creative Problem Solving Group – Buffalo, 1994.
wires" that could lead to major mistakes when managing groups. In addition, from
our own experience, we have identified a number of key contingencies to consider
when managing CPS groups. These are identified below.
Group versus team
One of the mistakes that is often made when managing groups is to call the group a
team but to actually treat it as nothing more than a collection of individuals. It is
important to be very clear about the underlying goal structure. Organizations are
often surprised that teams don't function too well in their environment. Of course,
they often fail to examine the essential ingredient of competition in their rating or
review process.
If a team is important, then a cooperative goal structure will be more appropriate.
The group must be accountable for its outcomes. Reward and recognition systems
need to built around different perspectives. If one wants the benefits of teamwork,
then teams must be built and developed.
Ends versus means
Managing the source of authority for groups is a delicate balance. Just how much
authority can you assign to the team to work out its own issues and challenges? For
the CPS facilitator, the authority issue is handled primarily by the charge given by
the client. The outcome of the client-facilitator planning meeting ought to be a clear
direction for the problem-solving efforts of the group.
The group should not be told exactly the kinds of problem statements to generate or
the precise qualities of the ideas to be generated. However, group members should
be given a clear understanding of the general direction in which the client needs to
move. The end, direction or outer limit constraints ought to be specified, but the
means to get there ought to be within the authority and responsibility of the group.
Structured freedom
It is a major mistake to assemble a group of people, tell them in general terms what
needs to be accomplished and let them work out the details. At times, the belief is
that if groups are to be creative, they ought not be given any structure. It turns out
that most groups would find a little structure quite enabling if it were the right
kind. Groups generally need a well-defined task, they need to be composed of an
appropriately small number to be manageable but large enough to be diverse, and
they need clear limits to the group's authority and responsibility.
In terms of facilitating CPS, the well-defined task can be the result of client-
facilitator planning and the preparation of the group to deal effectively with the
process technology. We generally recommend that group size be no fewer than five
and no more than seven. The extent to which resource-group members need to be
diverse depends greatly on the nature of the task. Finally, the roles within the
Page 29
Isaksen – Facilitating Creative Problem Solving Groups
© The Creative Problem Solving Group – Buffalo, 1994.
group insure an adequate understanding of the expected behaviors and
responsibilities of the group members.
Structures and systems supportive of teamwork
Often challenging team objectives are set but the organization skimps on support to
make that objective a reality. In general, high performing teams need a reward sys-
tem which recognizes and reinforces excellent team performance. They also need
access to good quality and adequate information as well as training and educational
support. Good team performance is also dependent on having an adequate level of
material and financial resources to get the job done.
Assumed competence
Many organizations have a great deal of faith in their selection systems.
Facilitators cannot assume that the group members have all the competence they
need to work effectively as a team. Often it has been a technical set of skills and
abilities which has put someone in a position for inclusion within a CPS group.
Members will undoubtedly need explicit coaching on skills they need to work well in
a team. Coaching and other support interventions are best done during the launch,
a natural break in the task or at the end of a performance or review period. It
appears that the start-up phase is probably the most important time-frame to
provide the necessary coaching or training.
Group orientation
All group members need to have some basic information regarding what they are
expected to do. Agreement is necessary regarding the procedures and methods used
for group activity. It is also very helpful for group members to be aware of their
strengths and limitations in using various process technologies, as well as the kinds
of personal and situational blocks to creative thinking which may surface during
the session.
Composition
Some deliberate decisions need to be made regarding the number and type of
human resources to be a part of the session. Heterogeneity of perspectives and
experiences as well as homogeneity of levels of power should be considered.
Generally, CPS groups should be informed of the criteria used in member selection.
Group size
Depending on the purposes of the session, a certain number of participants should
be specified (generally 5-7). Larger groups should provide additional facilitators to
allow an equivalent ratio. The facilitator may also want to consider the levels of
expertise necessary in dealing with the client’s task and insure adequate input and
deliberation during the planning meetings prior to group sessions.
The structure of the environment
Page 30
Isaksen – Facilitating Creative Problem Solving Groups
© The Creative Problem Solving Group – Buffalo, 1994.
The climate or environment within which the task occurs needs to be conducive to
creativity. Group members need to have a certain degree of trust and safety to
make contributions and engage in open communication. The facilitator has a
special challenge to establish a social climate which is characterized by
psychological safety and encourages the participants to obtain an internal or
intrapersonal climate which overcomes barriers to effective problem solving.
Some attention must be focused on assuring that the necessary equipment and re-
sources are assembled for the session. This means setting up visuals, flipcharts
with plenty of paper and markers, and a means for affixing these papers in a
prominent place for all to see. In addition, the group should be assembled in a place
where it is possible to be comfortable to share ideas and engage in effective
communication.
The purpose of the session, as well as the amount of time to be scheduled, should be
explicitly identified for all group members. Is the purpose of the group meeting to
identify the initial statement of the problem, to generate ideas, or to develop and
evaluate options? A specific process task should be identified and an appropriate
amount of time should be set aside for the accomplishment of that task.
The environment may provide some indications regarding the level of quality
needed for the decision, as well as the level of acceptance required for
implementation. If the leader lacks the necessary information and other group
members have that information, the leader can increase the quality of the outcome
by involving a group. The same is true if the leader does not know what type of
information is required or where it is located.
Involving group members in problem-solving sessions that affect them increases ac-
ceptance of the outcome or solution. The facilitator who can analyze the environ-
mental considerations to structure the appropriate climate can be assured of a
greater degree of success in utilizing group resources.
Conclusions
This paper has attempted to present some key considerations for facilitators inter-
ested in effective utilization of group resources during creative problem solving.
The paper should be considered only a beginning point in discovering the various
aspects of group-oriented leadership for creative problem-solving groups.
Facilitating CPS is an activity which can draw upon the knowledge and expertise of
a wide array of disciplines and areas of work. The challenges of facilitating CPS are
of high future value in that they deal with a new frontier of human understanding:
how we use the human imagination to improve the quality of our existence.
General Suggestions for Applying CPS
Page 31
Isaksen – Facilitating Creative Problem Solving Groups
© The Creative Problem Solving Group – Buffalo, 1994.
There are many opportunities to learn about the effective facilitation of CPS. There
are also some "trip wires" to avoid and some suggestions which might be productive.
One of the first things to avoid is calling the group together and identifying them as
a "problem-solving team" but failing to adequately distinguish their special roles
and responsibilities to the group. Group leaders need to encourage team members
to accept responsibility and accountability for their roles and tasks. The CPS
facilitator does this by ensuring real clientship for tasks on which the group works.
Also, the facilitator does not assume that all group members understand all that
they need to know regarding their roles and the process procedures to be employed.
Some deliberate time and energy must be invested in teaching the participants
their roles and a few basic process guidelines and techniques. Organizations that
demonstrate the effective application of CPS usually have a strong emphasis on
learning.
The following suggestions may be helpful for those who attempt to facilitate CPS
sessions after learning some basic approaches and techniques.
Use personally to show effectiveness
Convince yourself first of the value and effective use of the techniques. Participants
who go out and practice the use of the tools usually feel more confident in their use
and are more effective at sharing with their colleagues. It really helps to have a
variety of personal examples from which to draw!
Demonstrate benefits
It is helpful if you are able to document the benefits of using methods and
techniques which add value to you, your team and your organization. A participant
who was able to record the cost savings on her job was able to attend more training
sessions paid for by the management.
Use soon after training
You are probably better off if you make specific plans to apply your learning early,
rather than delay use for "the perfect opportunity." Participants report that it has
usually been better for them to use the tools soon after the training experience
while their memories are still fresh.
Continue your learning
Usually, these courses are very brief in duration compared with an entire semester
or program of structured learning which can last a few years. Such programs are
good opportunities for general exposure and some limited application. It makes
sense to continue learning through reading, attending additional coursework and
personal study. In short, consider it a challenge to extend your knowledge base!
Debrief your use of CPS
Page 32
Isaksen – Facilitating Creative Problem Solving Groups
© The Creative Problem Solving Group – Buffalo, 1994.
Many excellent facilitators of CPS use a process journal or notebook in which they
make notes about their learning and application. They are able to review their
progress and clarify their learning accomplishments and needs. They are able to
consider the things they seem to be doing well and the questions they have for self
improvement.
Use process flexibly
Although you may currently see CPS as a general system which contains three com-
ponents and six stages, the most appropriate use of CPS is flexible and dynamic.
Participants who search for the opportunity to use all three components and all six
stages may never find the perfect chance to use the CPS process. CPS is designed
to be personally helpful in meeting challenges, attaining goals and overcoming
problems. Use pieces or parts of the process where you think they may be useful.
Perhaps it may only be necessary to use one technique with a group; or even use the
tool personally and share only the outcomes with the group.
Use on low-risk challenge
Many participants have reported that it is helpful to initially try using CPS on
something that does not mean life or death, or is job threatening for you or others.
It may be helpful to be in the position to be playful or at least to freely explore
novelty for early application of learning.
Integrate its use
One of the strongest messages participants have shared is how important it is to
weave CPS tools into the work they do. Rather than establish a special learning or
application situation, it seems to be important to use CPS on every day challenges
and tasks. This is an effective way to show how CPS relates to real business or or-
ganizational needs.
Find a sponsor
It is helpful to identify an important client or someone who is really interested in
improved productivity (or for that matter anyone in a position of providing support
who is dissatisfied with the current reality). Offering the application of CPS on
something this sponsor wants to change or improve can be very helpful in gaining
support.
Find a safe group
Many participants have indicated that it was helpful to have a small group of
people to work with who were personally supportive for their initial attempt to use
these strategies. Sometimes it was a matter of offering to share a technique with
this group and then experiencing a small degree of success that made the difference!
Team up
Page 33
Isaksen – Facilitating Creative Problem Solving Groups
© The Creative Problem Solving Group – Buffalo, 1994.
Many people have been trained in CPS. You may find support by teaming up with
alumni of this course or facilitators or others in the network of those who know and
use CPS. Having someone else in your group who knows the language and can offer
you support can increase your effectiveness and learning.
Use outside experts
Many participants have found it helpful to bring in a few outsiders to get the ball
rolling. These people, just because they come from somewhere else, seem to offer a
low risk way to get some attention focused on using CPS and may "prime the
pump."
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  • … A facilitator is trained in the tool, is responsible for the process and procedures, structures and prepares the environment, reinforces roles and ground rules for the session, focuses the resources of the group, and is sensitive to a variety of group dynamics. During a typical CPS session, a group is led by a facilitator (Firestien & Treffinger, 1983Isaksen, 1983Isaksen, , 1992Isaksen & Dorval, 1996;Parnes, 1985;. …
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  • … Denna metod innebär inte att endast lösa problem. Arbetsgruppens kreativitet har nämligen fokus på nya utmaningar och blir verksam i gapet mellan verksamhetens aktuella nuläge och framtida vision (Isaksen, 1992). CPS är en metod för att lösa problem med hjälp av kreativitet för att övervinna hinder och uppnå mål. …
    KREATIVITET OCH MOTIVATION HOS ARBETSTEAM I ORGANISATIONER
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          1 Citation

          Download full-text PDF

          Mathematics Circles: A Structured Approach to Problem Solving

          Article (PDF Available) with174 Reads

          Patricia G. Kridler at George Mason University
          Patricia G. Kridler
          • George Mason University

          Patricia S. Moyer-Packenham at Utah State University
          Patricia S. Moyer-Packenham
          • 14.79
          • Utah State University

          Abstract
          To guide problem-solving activities in the classroom, this article presents a strategy similar to the reading model found in literature circles. The goal of mathematics circles is to provide guidance and structure to problem-solving activities so that students can internalize the strategies needed for them to develop into mathematicians.

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          A Structured Approach
          to Problem Solving
          Patricia G. Kridler and
          Patricia S. Moyer-Packenham
          PHOTOGRAPH BY TARA HELKOWKSI; ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
          214 MATHEMATICS TEACHING IN THE MIDDLE SCHOOL Vol. 14, No. 4, November 2008
          When I taught reading, I frequently used literature circles
          to help students structure their group discussions. This
          reading strategy involves assigning a different role to
          each student in a small group as he or she reads a section
          of the same book. Some of the roles include Illustrator,
          Discussion Director, Summarizer, and Travel Tracer.
          This strategy allowed each student to focus on a dif-
          ferent aspect, such as vocabulary or connections, as he
          or she read an assigned section in a book. When the
          students finished their section in the book, they would
          meet as a group and put all the pieces together in their
          Mathematics
          Circles:
          Copyright © 2008 The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Inc. www.nctm.org. All rights reserved.
          This material may not be copied or distributed electronically or in any other format without written permission from NCTM.
          Vol. 14, No. 4, November 2008 MATHEMATICS TEACHING IN THE MIDDLE SCHOOL 215
          discussions. The intent of literature
          circles is “to allow students to practice
          and develop the skills and strategies
          of good readers” (DaLie 2001, p. 96).
          Literature circles are flexible and adapt-
          able; what transpires during a group
          meeting depends on the book, the roles,
          and the students’ interactions with the
          materials and with one another.
          As a mathematics teacher, I have
          sometimes struggled with ensur-
          ing that all students remain actively
          engaged in group problem-solving
          activities. I began wondering if the
          concepts found in literature circles
          could be applied to my mathemat-
          ics content. As a result, I developed
          a set of seven role sheets that would
          be helpful in problem-solving situ-
          ations and began using them in my
          middle school classroom for a variety
          of applications. As with the various
          role sheets in literature circles, not all
          of the seven sheets need to be used
          simultaneously. Rather, they were de-
          signed to be used flexibly, depending
          on the problem and the group situa-
          tion. In the sections that follow, each
          role sheet’s main purpose and justi-
          fication are described. Examples of
          successful implementations of “math-
          ematics circles” in different problem-
          solving situations will demonstrate
          the usefulness and flexibility of this
          strategy. The seven roles are described
          below. Their corresponding role sheets
          are in the appendix.
          1. Situation Summarizer: This lead-
          ership role comes naturally to some
          students who frequently take the lead
          in groups and enjoy presenting their
          findings to the class. The Situation
          Summarizer records or summarizes
          what was accomplished during group
          work. The sheet guides the student
          through the thought processes neces-
          sary to present the problem, the steps
          the group took to get to the solution,
          and the solution.
          2. Vocabulary Master: Mathematics
          is often said to have a language of its
          own. For students to understand what
          they are being asked to do, they need
          to know and use correct vocabulary.
          The Vocabulary Master records terms
          that come up in group discussion that
          are unfamiliar and important to the
          solution of the problem. Although
          the focus of this role is on record-
          ing mathematical terms, the student
          may include other terms that were
          important to the problem-solving
          process. In addition to recording each
          word and its definition, the student is
          required to draw a picture or give an
          example of the term and state the im-
          portance of the word to the problem.
          3. Idea Guy or Idea Gal: Many times
          during an investigation, students work
          on an idea only to abandon it later
          because it did not help them find the
          solution. Sometimes the failure of
          these ideas triggers other ideas that
          are helpful. The purpose of this role
          is to record all the different ideas that
          were presented during the investiga-
          tion and give credit to those who had
          the idea, similar to a brainstorming
          session. The student is required to de-
          termine at the end of the investigation
          how helpful the idea was to the group
          as the students solved the problem.
          He or she reports this by marking in
          the column containing a check plus, a
          check, or a check minus.
          4. Model Maker: In mathematics, it
          is often helpful to draw a picture that
          represents the problem before one
          begins to try and solve it. In addition,
          a picture or diagram drawn at the
          end of an investigation can help sum
          up the problem and its solution. The
          Model Maker must be flexible so that
          he or she can work in either or both of
          Patricia G. Kridler, [email protected]rg, teaches eighth-grade mathematics
          and algebra at Auburn Middle School in Warrenton, Virginia. She is also
          pursuing a doctorate in mathematics education leadership through George
          Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Her interests include the develop
          ment of algebraic concepts in students and the use of reform curriculum
          materials and methods in teaching. She worked with Patricia S. Moyer-
          Packenham, patricia.moyer-pa[email protected], who is a professor of
          mathematics education at Utah State University in Logan. Her research
          focuses on uses of representations in mathematics teaching and learning
          and mathematics teacher development.
          PHOTOGRAPH BY TARA HELKOWKSI; ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
          216 MATHEMATICS TEACHING IN THE MIDDLE SCHOOL Vol. 14, No. 4, November 2008
          help one another as they grow more
          comfortable using this strategy. The
          following sections include examples
          demonstrating how the mathematics
          circles activity was successfully imple-
          mented in my classroom.
          Word Problems
          I used mathematics circles with a
          problem involving the Pythagorean
          theorem. The Model Maker, Compu-
          tation Kid, and Situation Summarizer
          were the roles that fit the problem
          well and are essential components for
          most investigations. Students were
          placed in groups of three and rotated
          through these roles, using the cor-
          rect sheets and taking turns to solve a
          variety of word problems that required
          using the Pythagorean theorem. Fig-
          ure 1 lists the word problem and il-
          lustrates one group’s completed sheets.
          In this example, the group focused on
          the role of Model Maker first, with all
          members helping the student com-
          plete the sheet. I frequently overheard
          heated discussions about whether they
          were solving for the hypotenuse or
          one of the legs of the triangle. Once
          all members agreed on the model, the
          group moved confidently forward to
          solve the problem. The Computation
          Kid began calculating the answer, and
          the Situation Summarizer was able
          to accurately describe the model and
          how the answer was obtained.
          When not actively engaged in
          completing his or her role sheet, each
          group member assisted the others as
          needed with their sheets. Figure 1’s
          examples show that the model depicts
          both the baseball diamond and the
          right triangle that is needed to solve
          the problem. In addition, the com-
          pleted computation connects back to
          the original problem. The Situation
          Summarizer effectively describes the
          problem and the steps required to
          solve it.
          There are several benefits to using
          mathematics circles to replace indepen-
          these situations if needed. Although
          many students think that drawing a
          picture is easy, the thought that goes
          into this activity is often crucial to the
          success of the investigation and the
          presentation of the solution.
          5. Computation Kid: The person in
          this role is responsible for recording
          all required calculations on the roll
          sheet. Certain students will naturally
          gravitate toward this activity, and
          others will run from it. Flexibility is
          necessary so that the mathematics
          can occur without students feeling
          that they are being bogged down with
          calculations. In addition to perform-
          ing and recording calculations, the
          student is asked to explain how he or
          she used the solution. This process of
          performing a calculation, recording
          the solution, and recording the use of
          the solution is repeated for all compu-
          tations needed in the investigation.
          6. Connector or Link Master: The
          student in this role reflects on how the
          current investigation links or connects
          to other problems that he or she has
          worked on or to other mathemati-
          cal content areas. The student is also
          asked on the role sheet to make any
          connections between the investigation
          and its usefulness in the real world.
          This role is sometimes difficult for one
          student and can be completed by all
          students to wrap up the investigation.
          7. Path Finder: The Path Finder
          records the paths that the group
          members took to reach their solution.
          This role sheet could also be used
          as a wrap-up activity by each group
          member to help him or her focus on
          the path that the investigation took
          and what was learned. The Situation
          Summarizer could then use this infor-
          mation in his or her presentation.
          HOW TO IMPLEMENT
          MATHEMATICS CIRCLES
          It is difficult to give specific instruc-
          tions on how best to use mathematics
          circles in the classroom because this
          activity must be tailored to your stu-
          dents and the investigation at hand.
          After experimenting with this strategy
          over a full school year, I have some
          guidelines that may help with imple-
          mentation. Teachers should begin
          using the role sheets with word prob-
          lems that have few steps. With this
          type of problem, students can focus on
          their role sheets without being
          too overwhelmed with the problem-
          solving exercise. The role sheets
          selected will vary based on the prob-
          lem. Also, if students rotate through
          the role sheets in groups while work-
          ing on problems involving similar
          mathematical content, they are able to
          PHOTOGRAPH BY TARA HELKOWKSI; ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
          Vol. 14, No. 4, November 2008 MATHEMATICS TEACHING IN THE MIDDLE SCHOOL 217
          dent practice or typical group work:
          Students have group members to
          help if difficulties arise with any of
          the concepts.
          Because students rotate through
          the different roles, they are able
          to practice a different skill with
          each problem. Instead of always
          performing the same role, students
          are required to take on different
          responsibilities. In so doing, they
          are supported by the scaffolding of
          the role sheets and peers.
          This strategy helps students think
          through problems. When they
          need to work independently, they
          will have developed the necessary
          skills to do so.
          Open-Ended Situations and Problems
          with Multiple Paths
          After students become comfortable
          with the various roles and how to
          complete the sheets while working
          with word problems, it is appropri-
          ate to move on to more difficult and
          open-ended problems. Again, the role
          sheets that are deemed useful will de-
          pend on the situation. You might need
          to provide guidance to your students
          to tailor the application of the role
          sheet to different problem types. For
          example, I used mathematics circles
          with students to pre-assess their
          understanding of area and perimeter.
          Students were placed in groups of
          four to five and were allowed to select
          which role sheet to complete. For this
          activity, the roles used were Situation
          Summarizer (to present the results),
          Vocabulary Master, Idea Guy or Idea
          Gal, Model Maker, and Computation
          Kid. Depending on the size of the
          group, some members had more than
          one role to perform. The groups had
          a fifty-minute class period to identify
          various examples of area and perim-
          eter, and each student was required to
          complete his or role sheets. The next
          day, each group, lead by its Situation
          The base path of a baseball diamond forms a square. If it is 90 feet from
          home to first base, how far does the catcher have to throw to catch someone
          stealing second base?
          Fig. 1 Student work on the Pythagorean theorem problem
          218 MATHEMATICS TEACHING IN THE MIDDLE SCHOOL Vol. 14, No. 4, November 2008
          Fig. 2 Assessment of student work on the topics of area and perimeter
          (a)
          (b)
          Summarizer, presented one model or
          example for perimeter and area.
          Through the presentations and
          students’ written work on the role
          sheets, I was able to learn what my
          students both understood and mis-
          understood about area and perimeter.
          For instance, I learned that they had
          a solid understanding that area was
          “what was inside a shape” and that
          perimeter was “the distance around
          the outside of a shape.” I also learned
          that some students were confusing
          area with volume because of their
          reference to area as the amount of
          “water in a bathtub” or their reference
          to swimming pools when discussing
          area. Figure 2a depicts one group’s
          ideas and a few of the models gener-
          ated for this assignment. The group
          found a variety of examples. The Idea
          Guy or Idea Gal recorded the ideas
          as well as the name of the student
          responsible for the idea. An excep-
          tion is made in the last row because
          all the students calculated the square
          miles in a fictitious town—Pechtiri-
          jkereevesloveville—named after
          the group’s members. A few of the
          models are shown in figure 2b. The
          trapezoidal model was supposed to
          represent the idea in row 3 of figure
          2a, which states, “You must surround
          someone’s trapezoid shaped backyard
          with trees.” Although this idea is an
          application of perimeter, the model
          includes area calculations, dividing
          the shape into triangles and rectan-
          gles. My students may have confused
          area and perimeter. However, I can
          also see that they had some useful
          strategies in place for calculating
          the area of shapes, even though the
          formulas were unknown to them. Al-
          though not all work is shown for this
          example, using mathematics circles
          provided a structured approach to
          brainstorming and recording students’
          understanding of area and perimeter.
          It helped me plan my unit on surface
          area and volume.
          Vol. 14, No. 4, November 2008 MATHEMATICS TEACHING IN THE MIDDLE SCHOOL 219
          The mathematics circles activity
          has helped my students most with the
          process of solving complicated prob-
          lems that may have multiple solution
          paths or more than one acceptable
          solution. Using mathematics circles
          for these types of problems changes
          the authority in the classroom. The
          use of the role sheets encourages my
          students to hold their group members
          responsible for their work. They have
          also found that they do not need to
          rely on the teacher as much. Before
          I used this strategy, students typi-
          cally presented just their answers and
          gave minimal explanation. Since its
          use, students refer to many different
          discoveries that they found along the
          way. When they work on the math-
          ematics found in complicated prob-
          lems, the role sheets help them record
          and recall what they discover.
          In my experience, the Vocabulary
          Master, Path Finder, and Idea Guy or
          Idea Gal sheets have been particularly
          helpful with extensive mathematics
          problems, such as that in figure 3.
          There is a lot of mathematics in this
          problem, from vocabulary words to
          a variety of patterns. When students
          presented their results to the class,
          they were able to effectively trace the
          path their group took to arrive at the
          solution. In addition, students pointed
          out many different patterns that they
          found, not all of which were central to
          the problem.
          Problem solving can be valuable not
          only for developing new mathematical
          ideas but also for deepening students’
          understanding of previously learned
          concepts (NCTM 2000, p. 256). My
          primary goal with the Locker prob-
          lem was to introduce students to the
          concept of perfect squares. I discovered
          through their presentations that in the
          course of their problem solving, the
          students’ understanding of previously
          learned concepts, such as factors, mul-
          tiples, primes, and composites, were
          also reinforced and extended.
          CLOSING THOUGHTS
          I have used mathematics circles
          successfully with students when
          they were engaged in simple word
          problems, more complex problems,
          and open-ended investigations used
          to assess current understanding of
          concepts. One key factor in the suc-
          cess of mathematics circles is to train
          students to be flexible with the roles.
          The Model Maker’s role for the
          Pythagorean theorem problems is
          completely different from that used
          in an open-ended assessment prob-
          lem, such as the area and perimeter
          problem. The Pythagorean theorem
          problem requires that the students’
          models accurately reflect the prob-
          lem. The Model Maker’s role for
          the area and perimeter assessment
          was to sketch models that accurately
          represent the concepts of area or pe-
          rimeter. This open-ended approach
          elicits a wide variety of models, not
          only the one correct answer in the
          Pythagorean theorem problem.
          Using mathematics circles struc-
          tures a mathematics task so that all
          students get to focus on different
          aspects of how to solve a problem.
          Students also develop the skills
          necessary to become better indepen-
          dent thinkers. In the process, I am
          learning much about how students
          think through problems. As teachers,
          we need to expose our students to a
          variety of mathematical questions and
          present them with strategies to help
          them be successful in answering them.
          Using mathematics circles provides
          both the structure and the flexibility
          needed to accomplish this task. If
          the literature circles strategy allows
          students to develop into good readers,
          then it is my hope that mathematics
          circles will allow students to develop
          into good mathematicians.
          BIBLIOGRAPHY
          DaLie, Sandra Okura. “Students Becom-
          ing Real Readers: Literature Circles
          in High School English Classes.”
          In Teaching Reading in High School
          English Classes, edited by Bonnie O.
          Ericson, pp. 84–100. Urbana, IL: Na-
          tional Council of Teachers of English,
          2001.
          Math Forum. www.mathforum.com/
          alejandre/frisbie/locker.problem.html.
          Drexel School of Education.
          National Council of Teachers of Math-
          ematics (NCTM). Principles and Stan-
          dards for School Mathematics. Reston,
          VA: NCTM, 2000.
          Imagine you are at a school that still has student lockers. There are 1000
          lockers, all shut and unlocked, and 1000 students.
          1. Suppose the first student opens every locker.
          2. The second student shuts every other locker, beginning with number 2.
          3. The third student changes the state of every third locker, beginning with
          number 3. (If the locker is open, the student closes it; if the locker is
          closed, the student opens it.)
          4. The fourth student changes the state of every fourth locker, beginning with
          number 4.
          If this continues until all 1000 students have followed the pattern with
          these lockers, which lockers will be open and which lockers will be closed
          at the end? Why?
          Source: Adapted from www.mathforum.com/alejandre/frisbie/locker.problem.html
          Fig. 3 The Locker problem
          220 MATHEMATICS TEACHING IN THE MIDDLE SCHOOL Vol. 14, No. 4, November 2008
          Name ________________________________
          Situation Summarizer
          Problem ________________________________________________________________
          Restate the problem in your own words:
          List the knowns and unknowns:
          List the steps that led to the solution:
          Record or present your results:
          Name ________________________________
          Vocabulary Master
          Problem ________________________________________________________________
          Keep a list of all the mathematical terms that come up during your investigation.
          Word Definition Picture or Example
          Importance of the Word
          in the Problem
          Name ________________________________
          Idea Guy or Idea Gal
          Problem ________________________________________________________________
          Keep a list of the different ideas that were discussed, who presented them, and how useful the ideas were in finding the
          solution.
          Idea Author +✓ ✓
          APPENDIX
          Vol. 14, No. 4, November 2008 MATHEMATICS TEACHING IN THE MIDDLE SCHOOL 221
          Name ________________________________
          Model Maker
          Problem ________________________________________________________________
          Create a visual image that depicts the problem and your solution. It could be a picture, a diagram, or a flow chart. Be
          creative.
          Name ________________________________
          Computation Kid
          Problem ________________________________________________________________
          You are responsible for performing and recording all computations during the activity. Record this information on this
          form:
          Mathematical problem and calculations (show work)
          Solution
          What the solution was used for in the problem
          Repeat for all calculations
          Name ________________________________
          Connector or Link Master
          Problem ________________________________________________________________
          Record any connections or links that you or your group members made during this activity. List them under the follow-
          ing categories.
          Previous problems worked on in a mathematics class:
          Different mathematics content areas (geometry, algebra, probability, and so on):
          Usefulness in the real world:
          Name ________________________________
          Path Finder
          Problem ________________________________________________________________
          Describe the “paths” your group took to solve the problem. List all of the paths, even if they were “dead ends.”

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                    FACILITATING CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING GROUPS

                    Article (PDF Available) with71 Reads

                    Scott Isaksen at BI Norwegian Business School
                    Scott Isaksen
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                    Figures
                    Figure Three: Task Appraisal
                    Figure Three: Task Appraisal
                    Figure Four: A Model for Group Development 
                    Figure Four: A Model for Group Development
                    FACILITATING CREATIVE
                    PROBLEM SOLVING GROUPS
                    Scott G. Isaksen
                    Center for Studies in Creativity
                    State University College at Buffalo
                    Introduction
                    If you were asked to name the inventors of the telephone, airplane or lightbulb, you
                    would probably experience little difficulty in recalling the names of Bell, the Wright
                    brothers or Edison. In contrast, many people experience difficulty in naming the
                    "inventor" of the 747 jumbo jet, the 800 inward watts number or the silicon chip.
                    Aside from the major differences in level of inventiveness and how much more
                    current the latter three products are, a major difference between these two
                    categories is that the more recent products have been the result of group creativity.
                    The growing importance of group creativity is being recognized by all types of
                    organizations (Freedman, 1988; Kuhn, 1988). The need for organizations to be
                    competitive and deal with increasing levels of complexity and change has forced
                    managers, administrators and others who are concerned with the future viability of
                    our places of work to deal with innovation and creativity. Although many think of
                    creativity as primarily an individual affair, there is a need to examine the
                    application of this personal power within the context of groups. Creativity in
                    groups and in individuals is not an either/or affair. When you are concerned with
                    facilitating group creativity you must simultaneously be able to address the issue of
                    promoting individual creativity.
                    Groups have been defined in many different ways. Most definitions point out that a
                    group is something more than the simple sum of its members. The following defini-
                    tion, provided by Johnson and Johnson (1982), will be used for this paper:
                    A group is two or more individuals in face-to-face interaction, each aware of his or
                    her membership in the group, each aware of the others who belong to the group, and
                    each aware of their positive interdependence as they strive to achieve mutual goals.
                    Hanson (1981) indicated that "as society becomes more complex and organizations
                    become multi-faceted, decisions that affect many lives are rarely made by
                    individuals alone. More and more decision making is done within the context of a
                    group." This emphasis upon group creativity need not diminish the significance of
                    individual creativity. Indeed, there are many occasions which call for the
                    application of individual skills and abilities toward the development of creative
                    solutions. This changing emphasis does, however, call for more involvement on the
                    part of individuals working together to achieve efficiency and innovation. Lawrence
                    and Dyer (1983) reviewed the abilities of organizations to structure themselves for
                    Page 2
                    Isaksen – Facilitating Creative Problem Solving Groups
                    © The Creative Problem Solving Group – Buffalo, 1994.
                    innovation. They "found no instance of an organization’s having a record of high
                    efficiency and high innovation without evidence of active involvement throughout
                    the organization."
                    Change, complexity and competition provide the impetus for increased creative col-
                    laboration. Gray (1989) indicated:
                    Finding creative solutions in a world of growing interdependence requires
                    envisioning problems from perspectives outside our own. We need to redesign our
                    problem-solving processes to include the different parties that have a stake in the
                    issue. Achieving creative and viable solutions to these problems requires new
                    strategies for managing interdependence.
                    Leaders and managers concerned with the most productive means and guidelines
                    for using groups have frequently attempted to gain some clear indications from
                    research in the social and behavioral sciences. It is beyond the scope of this paper
                    to review the relevant empirical literature on the use of groups in problem solving
                    and planning for organizational change (see Bass, 1981; Hackman, 1990; Hackman
                    & Morris, 1975; Hare, 1976; Hare, 1982; Hoffman, 1979; and Lippitt, Langseth, &
                    Mossop, 1985, for more comprehensive treatments). However, it is important to
                    recognize that the current status of this literature does not shed significant light on
                    the subject. For example, Hackman and Morris (1975) indicated:
                    In sum, there is substantial agreement among researchers and observers of small
                    task groups that something important happens in group interaction which can affect
                    performance outcomes. There is little agreement about just what the "something"
                    is—whether it is more likely to enhance or depress group effectiveness, and how it
                    can be monitored, analyzed and altered.
                    Despite the lack of clear direction from research, groups continue to be important
                    factors in organizational decision making and problem solving. Frequently, the
                    necessary information for solving a problem is scattered in a group. In addition, the
                    acceptance and comprehension of a decision by others is frequently as important as
                    the actual quality of that decision.
                    If the empirical literature does not provide clear direction for those interested in the
                    effective management of group problem solving, it will be important to identify
                    alternative useful sources. There are a variety of developments which can provide
                    some productive information and assistance. In a recent examination of the basic
                    skills employers seek to be more competitive and to develop successful employees
                    and organizations. Carnevale, Gainer, & Meltzer (1990) found:
                    Increasingly, employers have been discovering that their work forces need skills that
                    seem to be in short supply, skills over and above the basic academic triumvirate of
                    reading, writing and computation. The skills that employers are looking for include
                    problem solving, personal management, and interpersonal skills as well as the abili-
                    ties to conceptualize, organize and verbalize thoughts; to resolve conflicts; and to
                    work in teams — all of these skills are critical but often lacking.
                    Their book provides a wealth of information on the sixteen clusters of skills they
                    found employers demanding. A strong theme through all these clusters was the
                    ability to work and solve problems effectively with groups. Employees need to
                    Page 3
                    Isaksen – Facilitating Creative Problem Solving Groups
                    © The Creative Problem Solving Group – Buffalo, 1994.
                    develop skills which help them meet new challenges and make productive
                    contributions when working in teams.
                    The movement to develop skills and abilities of teamwork, creative thinking and
                    problem solving is not restricted to U.S. industrial or organizational settings. The
                    movement is occurring on an international level (Colemont, Grøholt, Rickards, &
                    Smeekes, 1988; Grønhaug & Kaufmann, 1988), throughout our educational institu-
                    tions (Deal, 1990; Isaksen, 1988b; Isaksen & Parnes, 1985; Tuerck, 1987) and
                    within the public sector (Merritt & Merritt, 1985). This increased attention on
                    group creative problem solving has a high degree of relevance for school
                    improvement initiatives, organizational effectiveness, as well as the quality and
                    continuous improvement movement within organizations.
                    The purpose of this paper is to provide useful information for facilitators of Creative
                    Problem Solving, in other words those interested in using groups to understand
                    problems and challenges, generate ideas and plan to put these ideas into action.
                    This information will include a brief description of Creative Problem Solving; the
                    roles of facilitator, client and resource-group member; as well as a variety of group
                    management issues. The paper will close with some suggestions for those who have
                    recently learned Creative Problem Solving and would like to facilitate its use with
                    others.
                    Creative Problem Solving
                    One of the ways to promote group creativity is through the effective facilitation of
                    Creative Problem Solving (CPS). CPS is a broadly applicable process that provides
                    an organizing framework or system for designing or developing new and useful out-
                    comes. CPS enables individuals and groups to recognize and act on opportunities,
                    respond to challenges, and overcome concerns.
                    CPS is not merely "problem solving." The creative aspect to CPS means the focus is
                    on facing new challenges. It means seeing these new challenges as opportunities;
                    dealing with unknown or ambiguous situations and productively managing the
                    tension caused by gaps between your vision of future reality and actual current
                    reality. A few of my colleagues prefer to use the terms "Creative Opportunity-
                    Finding" as opposed to CPS, but I feel the "creative" modifier means that we are not
                    concerned with the reproductive, menial or mundane kind of problem solving
                    (Isaksen, In preparation). Learning and applying CPS is a means towards
                    understanding and nurturing the creativity residing in each of us.
                    CPS is a broadly applicable process providing an organizing framework for specific
                    thinking techniques to help design and develop new and useful outcomes for
                    meaningful and important challenges, concerns and opportunities (Isaksen, Dorval
                    & Treffinger, 1994). CPS is an operational model for a particular kind of problem
                    solving where creativity is applicable for the task at hand.
                    There are many creative problem-solving procedures designed to assist groups to
                    solve problems and meet goals effectively (Egan, 1988; Isaksen & Treffinger, 1985;
                    Page 4
                    Isaksen – Facilitating Creative Problem Solving Groups
                    © The Creative Problem Solving Group – Buffalo, 1994.
                    VanGundy, 1981). It is beyond the scope of this paper to review these procedures
                    (see Isaksen, 1988a, Price, 1985, and Stein, 1975, for more information). Rather,
                    this paper focuses on the notion that these procedures can assist the group in being
                    more deliberate and explicit in better understanding the nature of challenges,
                    opportunities and problems; generating options; and analyzing, evaluating and
                    implementing them. These creative problem-solving techniques have been used in
                    business and industrial settings (Basadur, Graen & Green, 1982; Basadur &
                    Finkbeiner, 1985; Gryskiewicz, 1981) as well as educational organizations (Isaksen
                    & Parnes, 1985). There are also many training programs in creative problem
                    solving available through the Center for Creative Leadership, the Center for
                    Studies in Creativity, the Creative Education Foundation, the Center for Creative
                    Learning as well as a host of other organizations.
                    Throughout this paper, the words "creative problem solving" will sometimes appear
                    with capital letters. When you see these words in lower case letters, they refer to
                    efforts made by individuals or groups to think creatively in order to solve a problem;
                    when the words appear as Creative Problem Solving or CPS, I'm referring to the
                    specific problem-solving framework discussed in this paper.
                    There is an abundance of models and approaches to creative problem solving (Costa,
                    1985; Gordon & Poze, 1981; Kepner & Tregoe, 1981; McPherson, 1968; Prince, 1970;
                    Sampson, 1965). Some models are rather prescriptive in that they attempt to give
                    the user a detailed map with a particular pre-planned route highlighted for use.
                    Other approaches tend to be descriptive in that they will provide the user a map or
                    framework he or she can use to find their own way. Whether the model is
                    prescriptive or descriptive all models attempt to outline the stages of thinking or
                    problem solving and provide some indication of the techniques which might be
                    utilized along these stages.
                    Figure One: Components of CPS
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                    Our current componential view of CPS (Isaksen, Dorval & Treffinger, 1994)
                    describes three main components for CPS (see Figure 1). Understanding the
                    Problem includes seeking opportunities and establishing goals for problem-solving
                    efforts, examining the present status of a context or situation from many different
                    perspectives, and considering many possible problem statements to identify the
                    possible pathways to pursue for solving the problem. Generating Ideas includes
                    generating many, varied and unusual ideas and identifying those ideas which seem
                    promising or have interesting potential. Planning for Action is concerned with
                    transforming ideas into action. Criteria for analyzing and refining promising
                    possibilities are identified and then used to select, strengthen and support the
                    promising tentative solutions. In addition, emphasis is placed on considering pos-
                    sible sources of assistance and resistance, as well as formulating and implementing
                    a specific plan of action. These three components are used in any order or sequence
                    to best help the client develop an understanding of the program, generate al-
                    ternatives or transform ideas into action.
                    CPS is a flexible model that's components and stages can be used in any sequence–
                    but it is not a panacea, it must be used on tasks that are appropriate. Therefore,
                    before CPS can be most effectively applied, two activities, Task Appraisal and
                    Process Planning, must take place. Task Appraisal is concerned with making sure
                    CPS is appropriate to the task; during Task Appraisal, the key players, the desired
                    outcome, the characteristics of the situation, and the possible methods for handling
                    the task are considered. During Process Planning, the goal is to clarify how each of
                    the key players will be involved in solving the task and identify the most effective
                    entry point into the CPS framework for problem solving.
                    The important point is that there are many methods and techniques which can be
                    used by a group facilitator to help the group be more effective in balancing creative
                    and critical thinking to provide a more effective type of group problem solving. Our
                    current approach to CPS requires the use of both creative (divergent) and critical
                    (convergent) thinking to generate and communicate meaningful new connections as
                    well as to analyze, select and develop new possibilities. Knowing and applying
                    these group procedures is a significant challenge for the trainer, teacher, manager,
                    facilitator, supervisor, executive or anyone interested in utilizing group resources.
                    There are many factors for the facilitator of CPS to consider when planning to pro-
                    ductively utilize groups. Knowledge of the actual procedures and how they work is
                    the primary set of competencies upon which to build. This knowledge and personal
                    experience in applying the techniques can strengthen the facilitator's
                    understanding of why certain methods may result in certain types of outcomes.
                    Over time, this facilitation expertise can be expanded upon and shared more
                    deliberately with others.
                    CPS provides a unique context within which to examine leadership and group
                    dynamics. Hackman (1990) sets forth three basic attributes which must be present
                    if the label, "work group," is to be applied. Groups using CPS are real groups in
                    that they are intact social systems with boundaries, interdependence and
                    differentiated roles among members. They have specified tasks to perform and
                    responsibility to produce outcomes. CPS groups operate within a larger social
                    context in that there is usually clientship for challenges and opportunities on which
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                    CPS is applied. These clients have responsibility to implement and use the
                    outcomes provided by the group. Although effective application of CPS is not
                    limited to groups, some of the most powerful benefits of using CPS can be
                    materialized with small-group application. Consideration should be given to
                    readiness of the group to use various techniques.
                    The facilitator role: Group-oriented leadership
                    There are many views and approaches to understanding the concept of leadership.
                    One of the earliest was to focus on the attributes, traits and characteristics of effec-
                    tive leaders. Another approach examined the style of leadership or the balance be-
                    tween concern for task and concern for people. Recently, we have been searching to
                    understand the situation and contingencies for the productive application of leader-
                    ship. Whatever your approach to studying leadership one thing is clear: leadership
                    is related to followership. Gardner (1990) indicated:
                    Leadership is such a gripping subject that once it is given center stage it draws at-
                    tention away from everything else. But attention to leadership alone is sterile–and
                    inappropriate. The larger topic of which leadership is a sub-topic is the accomplish-
                    ment of group purpose, which is furthered not only by effective leaders, but also by
                    innovators, entrepreneurs and thinkers; by the availability of resources; by questions
                    of morale and social cohesion; and by much else…
                    Clark and Clark (1994) indicated that taking a leadership role involves a conscious
                    choice and commitment to lead. In describing this choice, the Clarks also outline a
                    few of the tasks that come with the commitment:
                    In every case, leadership occurs only when one chooses to lead. To make that choice
                    means that the leader mobilizes the talents and energies of the total group to address
                    a problem, complete a task, or achieve a mission. The leader facilitates. The leader
                    clarifies. The leader inspires. The leader resolves conflicts. The followers of such a
                    leader comment that they exert more effort for the leader, that the leader clarifies
                    the importance of each person’s role and is concerned that each person will develop
                    and grow as a result of the experience, and that the organization will improve and
                    prosper (page vii).
                    If a decision is made to involve a group in CPS, it is helpful if the style of the leader
                    is consistent with the notion of group participation. It would be counterproductive
                    if the leader were to autocratically order all group members to participate and to
                    insist that they enjoy it. It is also important to understand the unique style and
                    skills necessary for effective facilitation. This special type of group-oriented
                    leadership role focuses on the release and effective utilization of group resources.
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                    Figure Two: Model for Facilitating CPS
                    During a typical CPS session, there are three roles present: client, resource group
                    members and facilitator (see Figure 2). Clients are responsible for managing the
                    content direction of the session. They are the problem owners responsible for
                    addressing the task and use their knowledge and expertise to guide the content in
                    the desired direction to create specific outcome(s). Resource-group members take
                    part in a CPS session when clients need help with dealing with a task. They use
                    their diverse knowledge and varying perspectives to provide clients with many,
                    varied and unusual alternatives.
                    The facilitator is the person who takes primary responsibility for the process and
                    procedures with which the group will be involved. The facilitator structures and
                    prepares the environment, acts as a catalyst for releasing and focusing the efforts of
                    group members, uses appropriate methods and techniques, and is sensitive to the
                    variety of group dynamics. For more information regarding the role and
                    responsibilities of the facilitator, see Firestien & Treffinger (1983a), Isaksen (1983)
                    and Treffinger & Firestien (1989).
                    The responsibilities of the facilitator are rather complex. An effective CPS facilita-
                    tor must also be an excellent trainer or teacher, as well as a situational leader.
                    When groups first get together to use CPS some energy must be invested in helping
                    them understand the basic ground-rules, roles and specialized "language"
                    associated with CPS. As the group members become competent and committed, the
                    facilitator can move them into the application of CPS. It is when the group is
                    actually working on a specific task where the facilitator has a highly complex
                    challenge. When the group is actually working in context, it becomes very difficult
                    to keep the focus on process; the group will naturally focus a great deal of attention
                    on the content of the situation. The facilitator will need to be the one person
                    (perhaps along with a "process-buddy") who is committed to focusing on the process
                    in which the group is engaged.
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                    Characteristics of an effective CPS facilitator
                    There are many attributes of the effective facilitator of CPS. Parnes (1985) used the
                    term facilitator to identify:
                    the leader who draws out, reinforces and facilitates the creative learning, develop-
                    ment and problem solving of the people with whom he or she is working. The person
                    facilitating creative behavior is aware of the creative process and first understands it
                    in himself or herself, and then is able to help others see and strengthen it in them-
                    selves.
                    The word "facilitator" means a variety of things to different people. Facilitators can
                    often be viewed negatively–as nothing more than meeting planners responsible for
                    managing logistics, passive supporters who respond to emergent needs, or flipchart
                    secretaries who record the content of what is discussed during a meeting. In worst-
                    case scenarios, facilitators can be used as "scapegoats" for blame when a meeting is
                    not productive or simply as cheerleaders who are on the side with no real purpose.
                    For those of us concerned with the teaching and application of CPS, however, the
                    concept of facilitation has a special meaning. One of the best ways to describe the
                    concept is to identify those important attributes or qualities it contains. The
                    following characteristics have been identified as key abilities and skills associated
                    with effective facilitation of CPS; the list is in no particular order of importance, nor
                    as it is presented, complete.
                    Has process awareness and expertise
                    Aside from all the other abilities and skills that would help the facilitator communi-
                    cate and effectively manage the interaction between a variety of individual roles,
                    the awareness of a variety of methods and techniques for use during a creative
                    problem-solving session is an important attribute of a CPS facilitator. Having the
                    ability to use a diversity of tools provides the facilitator with an efficient means of
                    meeting the needs of a client by fully utilizing the resources of the group.
                    The CPS facilitator possesses a clear and productive understanding of the
                    conceptual framework of CPS. This would include knowing the specialized CPS
                    terminology and guidelines, the subtle differences among the concepts of the CPS
                    framework, components, stages, phases and tools. In addition, the facilitator will
                    need to make decisions about the effective application of the many CPS tools. It is
                    also quite helpful to have a number of other process languages at your disposal. For
                    example, it is very helpful to be able to make connections between CPS and
                    Targeted Innovation, Synectics, or Kepner-Tregoe. Some people may not have had
                    direct training in CPS, but have had some experience with another process model.
                    While the group is learning about CPS, preparing to apply the tools and actually en-
                    gaged in problem solving, the facilitator must be able to maintain an awareness of
                    the group process and dynamics as well as keep an eye on the time, energy, and
                    client's needs. In short, the facilitator must be able to juggle quite a few issues at
                    once. The major expertise necessary for CPS facilitation is the ability to set an
                    appropriate environment by removing barriers to effective use of personal and
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                    group creativity and accelerating progress toward the end in view. Having
                    awareness and expertise with the Creative Problem Solving process helps to remove
                    barriers and improve the environment for creativity.
                    Is clear about role
                    The facilitator also has the responsibility of managing productive interaction with
                    both the client(s) and the resource-group members. In theory, there is a sharp and
                    clear difference among the three social roles of facilitator, client and resource-group.
                    However, when groups are engaged in CPS, these roles become less clear and man-
                    ageable. The role of the CPS facilitator encompasses teaching and leading as well
                    as managing the other social roles of client and resource group.
                    In a sense, the facilitator must function as a "participant-observer" within the
                    group. When needed, the facilitator provides the necessary process intervention
                    from a content and CPS perspective, but must always have the clear awareness of
                    the purpose and goal of the session.
                    Has people skills
                    The CPS facilitator must feel comfortable with a social role which involves a great
                    deal of interaction with other people. Facilitators need to be able to deal effectively
                    with group dynamics, interpersonal skills and communication. Handling those
                    sudden changes of course which groups often provide offers a constant source of
                    challenge to those who choose to work with others. An effective facilitator knows
                    how to observe and utilize the interest and motivation of others toward productive
                    outcomes.
                    Manages content-process balance
                    It is important for the facilitator to be able to listen to a client and understand the
                    context enough to comprehend the nature of the problem or challenge. In a sense
                    this means being a "quick study" for the main ideas and key data within the domain
                    of the client. It is probably quite helpful for the facilitator to have a broad
                    background and a good general vocabulary to help acquire knowledge from a variety
                    of contexts. More importantly, managing the balance between becoming an expert
                    within the specific problem domain and offering appropriate process interventions is
                    a major area of judgment for the CPS facilitator.
                    Leverages personal experience
                    The effective CPS facilitator can draw upon a wealth of personal experiences which
                    illustrate key learnings about the process. Some of the most learnable moments oc-
                    cur when a CPS facilitator can share with others specific interactions and events
                    and the rich key learnings they provide. These actual examples really help others
                    learn the value and most productive use of CPS technology. Providing these
                    examples illustrates that it is necessary to have trust in the process. Sharing these
                    experiences also provides a role model of healthy intellectual competence coupled
                    with genuine and personal disclosure.
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                    Not only is it necessary to have access to past experiences, making good use of cur-
                    rent learning opportunities is one of the best ways to insure future productivity. It
                    is possible to learn from current programs and process interventions provided by
                    the facilitators.
                    Manages divergence-convergence balance
                    A central dynamic to manage when facilitating CPS is knowing how to diverge as
                    well as how and when to stop diverging. Bringing divergence to a close is not
                    synonymous with convergence. Making the transition to productive application of
                    convergent thinking is a key challenge. Having a deep understanding of the
                    guidelines for generating options as well as analyzing, developing and refining
                    options is a key initial step.
                    If there is one technique which is the most widely known, it surely is brainstorming.
                    However, it is also quite clear that many people equate brainstorming with the
                    entire CPS framework. It is important to maintain conceptual as well as practical
                    balance when learning and applying CPS. It is nearly unbelievable that many
                    creativity practitioners are still hung up with equating creativity with divergence!
                    Most organizations with which I am familiar have no shortage of ideas, they do
                    have tremendous needs for focus and follow-through.
                    Has appropriate personal qualities
                    There are a wide variety of specific personal qualities associated with effective CPS
                    facilitators. I am certain that there is no particular mold from which all excellent
                    CPS facilitators will be formed. However, there are some broad personal character-
                    istics which are likely to be held in a diversity of individuals and in unique ways.
                    Some include: being able to show enthusiasm and having a genuinely-optimistic
                    attitude; having positive beliefs about creativity; having enough belief-in-self to be
                    able to ask the group for help (self-confident enough to indicate how much you don't
                    know!); having a sense of humor; and a high degree of personal integrity.
                    Manages logistics
                    A major responsibility of the facilitator is the establishment and management of a
                    productive learning and thinking environment. Being able to manage the planning
                    of a wide range of details is very helpful. Some of these logistical issues include:
                    having a variety of available resources; arranging the sitting so that there is
                    adequate eye contact; preparing people to dress casually (where appropriate);
                    demonstrating to those involved in the training and group sessions that their needs
                    have been considered and many others.
                    Dealing with logistics is often minimized as an important quality of effective CPS
                    facilitators. The larger issue is maintaining an appropriate balance between
                    strategy and tactics. There have been sessions that have not worked as
                    productively as they might have because no one was concerned with making sure
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                    there was a flipchart or markers or had the ability to hold an effective planning
                    meeting.
                    Can teach and train
                    Before CPS facilitators engage individuals or groups in CPS, they must be certain
                    that they are as prepared as possible to help the people benefit from the process in-
                    teraction. One of the most important roles a facilitator can perform is that of educa-
                    tor–bringing out that which is within.
                    It may be necessary for groups who are in a position to apply CPS to know it’s lan-
                    guage, guidelines and tools. This may mean providing individualized opportunities
                    for people to develop the necessary understanding for effectively applying CPS. It
                    can mean designing and providing very explicit large-scale training programs to
                    prepare for CPS. It can also mean providing brief instructions related to language
                    and tool use during a CPS session.
                    Matches style to situation
                    The facilitator must be able to manage the transition from teaching and training to
                    actual engagement on a real challenge. This requires that those involved know
                    enough about what they need to do and are ready to apply CPS. This requires a se-
                    ries of assessments regarding the competence and commitment of group members to
                    effectively use CPS. One of the worst mistakes to be made is to assume that be-
                    cause everyone knows how to brainstorm, that they are ready for effective applica-
                    tion of CPS technology.
                    A situational approach to providing leadership is absolutely necessary. Moving
                    individuals and groups from a learning mode to a doing mode, and then reflecting
                    on that which was done takes a special level of expertise and lots of practice.
                    Managing the client
                    It is important for group members to know that their efforts have some meaning
                    and relevance. This can be achieved only if someone within the group has a sincere
                    interest in implementing the solutions the group generates. Thus, the facilitator
                    interacts with a client. This is the individual who has decision-making authority or
                    ownership over a particular situation or challenge. The role of client in CPS groups
                    supplies content-related expertise and provides convergence and decision making
                    during the group’s session. The client helps to keep the group on track by clarifying
                    the situation, choosing directions and approaches, and participating in the group’s
                    session. In the final analysis, it’s the client who needs to have a problem solved or
                    an opportunity reached. Therefore, the role of client is an important one in
                    determining the effectiveness and productivity of the group’s effort. (For more
                    information on the client’s role see Firestien & Treffinger, 1983b.)
                    Clients need guidance from the facilitator for making choices and judging at
                    appropriate times, and they need to have support for permitting, encouraging and
                    participating in the divergent activities of the group. Clients must demonstrate
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                    sincere interest in working with the group and process to bring about change. For
                    clientship to be present, there must be room for a new approach or fresh idea which
                    the client is willing and able to implement. The client must also have enough clear
                    influence to implement the outcomes of the CPS process. This type of ownership
                    builds commitment to the group process and helps in the development of effective
                    groups.
                    The role of client helps to provide the group access to a clear definition of the task at
                    hand. The client shares the most important background data and provides other in-
                    formation the group needs to know before proceeding. Elements of the client’s task
                    must be specified and have clear connection to his or her responsibilities. In short,
                    the client provides much the expertise necessary for productive problem solving.
                    Many times it is possible to identify one clear client. At other times, the ownership
                    is distributed among a group. More broadly, there are some challenges and
                    opportunities that have widely distributed ownership. For example, all of us are
                    currently concerned about global warming or the threat of nuclear destruction.
                    Managing group clientship provides the facilitator an even more complicated
                    challenge. Usually, group clientship requires special attention to the convergent
                    aspects of CPS. It may be necessary to modify the process technology, the time-
                    frame within which the group will work, and other factors when working with more
                    than one client.
                    Characteristics of an effective client
                    First, a distinction must be drawn between client and clientship. A client is a
                    person who has a particular social role before, during and after a CPS session.
                    Clientship is synonymous with ownership. Ownership implies that there is:
                    sufficient motivation or interest to work on the problem or challenge; there is
                    sufficient authority, responsibility or influence to take action; and there is a need to
                    consider novel approaches which require the use of imagination. In addition to
                    ownership, there are a number of other characteristics held by many of the most
                    effective clients with whom we have worked. A few of the more important of these
                    characteristics are described below.
                    Genuinely interested in taking action
                    Effective clients are interested and motivated to deal with the problem situation.
                    They display a positive attitude and commitment by attending all and actively
                    participating in planning meetings and group sessions as well as by taking action
                    on the outcomes of meetings. They actively seek involvement and contribution from
                    others.
                    Has authority and responsibility for problem situation
                    Effective clients have the authority and responsibility to take action on the problem
                    situation. They are able to engage in CPS, see value in its use and take action on
                    its outcomes. It is possible for a client to be a "sole proprietor" as well as a "stake-
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                    holder." Ownership may be closely held or widely distributed. In either case, the
                    actual level of responsibility and breadth of accountability for implementation must
                    be clearly identified.
                    Willing to change or modify paradigms
                    Effective clients are willing to change or modify existing ways of doing tasks. They
                    consciously seek novel and imaginative outcomes. They promote the involvement of
                    "outsiders" as resources to assist in providing a diversity of novel perspectives.
                    Committed to the use of CPS
                    Effective clients understand the value of CPS and are willing to provide the time,
                    energy and planning necessary for productive outcomes. They see value in all three
                    CPS roles (client, facilitator and resource group) and take the responsibilities
                    associated with their role seriously. They actively collaborate with facilitators to
                    plan, deliver and debrief the CPS session.
                    Trusts CPS process
                    Clients often become involved in CPS activities with which they may not be
                    familiar. Effective clients trust the process in that they follow the guidelines and
                    principles necessary to provide the desired outcome or result. They remain open to
                    the generation of novel and unusual perspectives and tolerate the ambiguity which
                    might accompany the use of certain CPS principles and techniques.
                    Flexible in thinking and perceptions
                    It is often necessary to "shift gears" and pursue new avenues or directions.
                    Effective clients remain open to the changes in direction. They listen and accept
                    different approaches taken during various stages and phases of CPS. They stay
                    open to the fact that they might "change their mind."
                    Has good people skills
                    Effective clients have the ability to make others feel at home and supported. They
                    "read" the facilitator and resource-group members and know when and how to re-
                    spond. They maintain an appropriate level of eye contact with others, listen
                    carefully to options, their non-verbal behavior matches the purpose of the session as
                    well as their verbal comments; and they provide an appropriate level of
                    encouragement without smothering or controlling the session.
                    Has integrity
                    Effective clients have a strong set of beliefs in the value of diversity and the impor-
                    tance of unleashing human creativity. They see value in working with people to
                    identify and solve problems. They see people are part of the solution, not the
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                    problem. They are honest in dealing with others and themselves. When the
                    possibility of a "hidden agenda" emerges, they are able to identify it openly and find
                    productive alternative approaches.
                    Has expertise in the problem area
                    Productive CPS outcomes can often be influenced by the knowledge level and
                    experience of the client. Effective clients are knowledgeable in the problem area to
                    the point that they can communicate the nature of the situation in a simplistic and
                    understandable manner. In effect, they know their area so well that they could
                    describe it to an eight-year-old child. The client's knowledge and expertise is often
                    necessary for making some sense out of the novel perspectives generated during
                    CPS. There may be special applications of CPS with groups of experts within a
                    particular content domain. Generally, however, if there must be an expert in most
                    CPS sessions, it should often be the client.
                    Has process awareness
                    Effective clients are willing to learn and understand the CPS process. They have a
                    general level of awareness of the roles of a CPS session, how the techniques will
                    operate, and can effectively communicate with the facilitator and the resource group
                    using CPS language. After applying the process, they often engage in a post-session
                    meeting designed to provide feedback about the general level of productivity,
                    identify the outcomes which were most useful and intriguing, how the techniques
                    generated the variety of outcomes, and able to identify if and how the application of
                    the CPS process added value.
                    Effective clients often take the responsibility for communicating these learnings to
                    the facilitator and the resource-group participants. They see the entire affair
                    through a systems approach. They actively seek out productive learning from the
                    investment everyone has made in the CPS session.
                    Prepare for CPS
                    One of the most effective ways a facilitator can manage a client to help ensure the
                    successful application of CPS is to engage in Task Appraisal and Process Planning.
                    The purpose of conducting Task Appraisal is to determine whether or not CPS is ap-
                    propriate for a given task. To answer this question, the key people involved in the
                    task, the situation or context in which the task exists, and the desired outcomes re-
                    sulting from the intervention are all examined. The purpose of Process Planning is
                    to determine, if appropriate, how CPS should be used. During process planning,
                    specific clientship (ownership) is confirmed; CPS roles (client, facilitator and re-
                    source-group member) are clarified; a process starting point (a particular CPS
                    component or stage) is located; and preparations are made for applying CPS
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                    (individually or with a group). It may be helpful to consider the following
                    suggestions when engaging in Task Appraisal and Process Planning.
                    Task Appraisal
                    The initial interaction between the client and facilitator is very important to insure
                    a match between the CPS process technology and the actual task upon which the
                    client wants to work. If the results of Task Appraisal suggest CPS is inappropriate
                    for a task, then it may be necessary to suggest alternative methods for dealing with
                    the task such as checking available literature, using existing or previous solutions
                    from history, or hiring a consultant to address the task. There is no magic to the
                    productive application of CPS. Task Appraisal provides an opportunity to make
                    sure, before you begin applying CPS, that the application fits the problem-solving
                    need. The following activities will be helpful in conducting Task Appraisal (see
                    Figure 3).
                    Figure Three: Task Appraisal
                    Identify and examine who is involved in the task
                    To determine if CPS is appropriate for a given task, it is important to identify and
                    examine the key individuals and groups involved in the task. This is more than
                    simply identifying who is involved in the task. It includes understanding how they
                    are involved and their impact on the task.
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                    The facilitator and client work together to identify and understand who
                    the key players are and what they are like.
                    The facilitator and client examine the nature of the clientship and deter-
                    mine its depth and breath.
                    The facilitator asks questions to determine the client’s level of ownership.
                    The facilitator determines with the client whether those involved have
                    enough knowledge and expertise.
                    Identify desired outcomes
                    Task Appraisal also provides the opportunity to become familiar with the client’s
                    desired outcome or intended results of their problem-solving efforts. The nature of
                    the outcomes will help determine if CPS should be used. For example, if the client
                    does not want anything new or novel, then CPS should not be used and another
                    methodology suggested.
                    The facilitator asks the client to describe the desired outcome and identify
                    it’s key qualities.
                    The facilitator asks the client to describe the kind of novelty desired
                    (short-term continuous improvement vs. long-term paradigm shift).
                    The facilitator and the client discuss the importance and immediacy of the
                    task.
                    Examine the situational outlook
                    The needs and general context in which the task is located will provide you with im-
                    portant information to consider before involving yourself in the task. Examining
                    the context helps you understand the likelihood of action resulting from your efforts
                    and the application of CPS. It also provides an understanding of the opportunities
                    that exist for CPS application.
                    The facilitator has the client discuss the situation surrounding the task.
                    The client shares information about the availability of adequate resources,
                    information and support for dealing with the task.
                    The facilitator asks the client to describe the general working climate in-
                    volved in the task arena.
                    The client shares the strategic priorities surrounding the task.
                    Determine the appropriate methodology
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                    With a better general understanding of the people, the situation and the desired
                    outcome, you are in a better position to determine whether or not CPS is
                    appropriate for the task. You may find that you have the right people, who want a
                    new and useful outcome, in a situation that requires change. This situation may be
                    appropriate for CPS. However, the results of your Task Appraisal may show that
                    the people you are dealing with do not have the appropriate level of ownership, that
                    a solution is readily available, or that priorities in the task situation suggest no
                    action will be taken on the task. In these cases, CPS may not be appropriate and a
                    different methodology suggested.
                    The facilitator asks the client to identify what methodologies are currently
                    being used to deal with the task.
                    The facilitator and client discuss the costs and benefits of using CPS.
                    The facilitator and client determine if they know enough about CPS to ef-
                    fectively apply it.
                    The facilitator determines if CPS is appropriate for the given task or are
                    other methodologies besides CPS recommended.
                    Process Planning
                    If CPS is determined to be appropriate for a given task, it is necessary to develop an
                    effective plan for its application. Since CPS is a broad and flexible framework, it is
                    necessary to tailor its use for the task. The following activities are helpful when
                    conducting Process Planning.
                    Confirm specific clientship
                    Although the nature of clientship may have been examined during Task Appraisal,
                    it may be helpful and necessary to confirm that the task owner has appropriate
                    levels of interest, influence and need for imagination. If the client does not have
                    sufficient levels of these three things, it may be necessary to modify the task to
                    create ownership or to work with a different person, one who has the appropriate
                    levels of interest, influence and need for imagination.
                    The facilitator confirms that the client has the appropriate level of interest,
                    motivation or passion for working on the task.
                    The facilitator confirms that the client has enough clout or leverage to imple-
                    ment and take action based on the results of the CPS application.
                    The facilitator confirms that the client has a need for engaging in the
                    imagination to develop new or unique approaches to dealing with the task.
                    Clarify roles for applying CPS
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                    When preparing to apply CPS, particularly in a group setting, it is important that
                    all those involved understand their role and related responsibilities. For example,
                    the client needs to know that when applying CPS the facilitator will not be
                    contributing content suggestions or making decisions about content. The client
                    needs to understand that he or she is primarily responsible for making content-
                    related decisions and determining the direction and flow of the session’s content. If
                    CPS is applied using a resource group, then they need to be informed of their
                    responsibilities related to supporting the client during the session. Although
                    resource-group members do not necessarily need to be experts in the task content,
                    they do need to know enough about the task to be helpful.
                    • The facilitator and the client meet to discuss their respective roles and re-
                    sponsibilities.
                    Client and facilitator work together to identify and select resource group
                    members if CPS is applied in a group setting.
                    A plan is made to brief the resource group on the results of the Task
                    Appraisal and Process Planning prior to the session.
                    Locate your CPS process starting point
                    It's important to use the client's expertise on the task to develop the most
                    productive CPS process intervention. This includes identifying the most effective
                    starting point on the CPS process. There are three components and six stages
                    where you can enter, depending upon the needs of the task. For example, if the
                    need is for identifying a future direction for change, understanding current reality
                    or identifying pathways to move an existing situation into something new, then the
                    Understanding the Problem component is most appropriate in which to start. If the
                    need is to gather ideas for solving a specific problem, then the Generating Ideas
                    component may be most appropriate. If the need is to make decisions about options,
                    strengthen promising alternatives or develop an effective implementation plan,
                    then the Planning for Action component may be most appropriate.
                    The facilitator asks the client questions to determine which component to
                    enter in the CPS process.
                    The facilitator works with the client to determine and design the meeting
                    agenda based upon the process needs.
                    The facilitator and client work together to determine the appropriate uti-
                    lization of a resource group in the process design.
                    A plan is devised to communicate the results of the session with resource-
                    group participants (memos, videos, graphics, samples).
                    Plan for session and logistics
                    There are many additional things you can do to increase the likelihood of a
                    productive CPS session. One of the most tangible ways to prepare for the session is
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                    to think about the actual physical arrangements for the meeting. This is especially
                    important if you will be using group resources. A convenient way to deal with these
                    concerns is simply hire a meeting planner. If this is not an option for you, consider
                    the following information.
                    The facilitator helps the client prepare for the actual session (include the
                    use of audio-visual aids, charts or pictures).
                    The facilitator and the client discuss the criteria for group membership
                    and the appropriate limits for diversity of perspectives.
                    The facilitator coaches the client regarding the appropriate behaviors to
                    be used during the CPS session.
                    The facilitator briefs the client on the CPS technology to be used during
                    the session.
                    Resource-group members are invited and informed of the purpose, time
                    and location for the session. The invitation memo may also provide a brief
                    summary of the client's task, desired outcome for the session and
                    rationale for using CPS.
                    Room arrangements should be made to be conducive to the purpose of the
                    session (visibility of flipcharts, eye contact with group members).
                    Support materials should be arranged (including technique handouts,
                    Post-it® pads, markers).
                    Facilitator and client should establish and agree upon an appropriate time
                    line.
                    Plan to debrief the session
                    One of the most productive ways to learn from the investment of time, energy and
                    other resources which were used during the CPS session is to plan to capture the
                    key learnings and identify the most and least productive aspects from the
                    experience. This will be very helpful in your future work with that particular client
                    and with many future clients.
                    Check points for monitoring and evaluating the outcomes of the session
                    should be prearranged between client and facilitator.
                    Goals for the session should be made explicit in order to determine if the
                    session was a success.
                    A plan should be developed for handling the output of the session.
                    The issue of giving feedback to participants is discussed. If required, a plan
                    to deliver feedback is developed.
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                    An actual debriefing session is planned to identify key strengths and areas
                    for improvement.
                    Tips for Conducting Task Appraisal and Process Planning
                    Listen CarefullyThis is your opportunity to check out the client's perception
                    of the challenge and insure their comprehension of the planning process.
                    Encourage your client to say back in their own words what you are sharing.
                    Be willing to "just say no" Negotiate the session very carefully. Sometimes
                    the best thing you can do is identify that CPS is not the most effective approach for
                    the client. It is often helpful to build in some incubation time after conducting Task
                    Appraisal and Process Planning to enable you to determine if CPS is appropriate, if
                    you are working with the appropriate client, and if you are the person to facilitate
                    the session.
                    • Make it deliberate and explicit Task Appraisal and Process Planning should
                    be considered an explicit and deliberate step in the effective planning and use of
                    CPS. A Task Appraisal and Process Planning meeting should not be sandwiched
                    between two more important meetings or given a lower priority than the typical
                    stream of work that confronts any busy professional. After conducting a number of
                    Task Appraisal and Process Planning activities, you may find it helpful to develop
                    your own personal protocol including a special form to be filled out or a checklist to
                    share with the client. Keep it deliberate and explicit.
                    Be prepared Be ready to share some examples of successful sessions and
                    identify what you think made them work so well. You may also find it helpful to
                    have a few worst-case examples to show what can happen if certain aspects of
                    planning are not dealt with successfully. It may also be useful to provide your
                    client a list of references of the actual clients in these examples. (This is another
                    reason for the importance of debriefing and making this kind of arrangement with
                    your clients.)
                    Use a process buddy It can be very important, especially for the first few
                    times, to ask a more experienced (or equally experienced) facilitator to join you for
                    the planning meeting. Just having another pair of eyes and ears can help avoid
                    some of the pitfalls and maximize the value of time invested.
                    Bring support materials You may find it very helpful to have some key
                    handouts you used when learning about or applying CPS. Do not consider this
                    cheating, just excellent evidence of preplanning. Key handouts or graphics can help
                    you make your point and help to keep you on track. Try assembling your own
                    personal facilitator survival kit.
                    General tips for managing clients
                    Keep the ownership where it belongs Sometimes clients may want to
                    share the actual problem with you. Watch out for the monkey being placed on your
                    back. Although clients can be very desperate and need to use CPS very much, care
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                    needs to be taken that they do not use you to "whip the group into shape" or "do the
                    dirty work."
                    Do not be afraid to call a "time-out" If your client presented a false front
                    during your planning activities and pulls out a few major surprises during a CPS
                    session, you may need to create the opportunity for an honest revisit of the
                    expectations you set. Calling a "time-out" is infinitely better than trying to run the
                    wrong session.
                    Check the credibility of your client – Almost anyone can present a facade for
                    an hour or so. It may be very helpful to check your perceptions with a few savvy in-
                    siders prior to the session. The client may play favorites with the selection of the
                    resource group, may be known for certain inappropriate behaviors which you would
                    want to prepare for, or could be known to be uninterested in self-awareness and
                    couldn't have prepared you for these planning aspects.
                    Check, check and recheck ownership If there is one most important factor
                    in a successful CPS session is that it must be real. If your client has a list of things
                    that would never work, does not appreciate "soft science," or has no intention of act-
                    ing or responding to the outcomes of the session you may need to walk away, post-
                    pone or re-negotiate.
                    Stay down to earth A client can sometimes see your process expertise as
                    magic and treat you like a magician. This can often give you quite an ego lift.
                    Watch out for playing into this one! Although it may be hard and you may have a
                    great deal of charm, charisma or other talent, try to keep your work in the arena of
                    what is natural, deliberate and repeatable. I remember a session where I was
                    talking about God's creativity and while I was talking (in a tall observation tower) I
                    told the group that I reserved the number ten for the kind of creativity that God
                    provides. At that very moment, the lightening struck and thunder roared. A few
                    people in the group asked me if I could do that again! It would have been very sad
                    if I had actually tried!
                    Try to reward good client behavior In building an effective relationship
                    with your client find opportunities to:
                    Say thank you: write thank-you notes, just say thanks, have their boss send
                    thank you letters or memos.
                    Remember their needs: send them articles or resources as follow up to your
                    session, practice some networking to connect others to your client, etc.
                    Talk about them to other groups: spread the work about their productivity.
                    Drop in for an informal visit to just say "hi."
                    The Resource Group
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                    The other members of a CPS group are called participants and they function collec-
                    tively as the resource group. These resource-group members suggest options and
                    provide a wide range of alternatives during a CPS session. Effective resource-group
                    members show an interest in the client’s content, but do not make decisions for the
                    client. They support the decisions the client makes and provide a divergent range
                    of possibilities from which the client can choose. In short, they practice effective
                    listening strategies and find ways to make productive contributions to the problem-
                    solving session.
                    Resource-group members provide energy, diversity of experience, and a variety of
                    viewpoints. The facilitator’s challenge is to capitalize on the group’s assets and
                    limit their liabilities by providing the necessary balance of creative and critical
                    thinking processes in meeting the needs or goals of the client. Effective use of CPS
                    requires a dynamic balance between using deferment of judgment to diverge and
                    generate options and using affirmative judgment to converge, analyze and develop
                    options.
                    Another major challenge to the CPS facilitator is to effectively balance and reinforce
                    the roles of facilitator, client, and resource group. Part of this responsibility
                    includes making these roles explicit for all group members so that everyone knows
                    what is expected of them. Although it is beyond the scope of this paper to
                    thoroughly examine the functional roles of group members (see Benne and Sheats,
                    1948; Isaksen, 1983), these three roles provide the basic interpersonal framework
                    for facilitating CPS in groups.
                    Deciding to use a group
                    Many people who have attempted to use groups for developing novel and useful
                    alternatives find out that using groups is not always easy, pleasurable or effective.
                    Using groups has both positive and negative aspects.
                    In considering whether or not to use a group for obtaining a better understanding of
                    the situation, generating options, or making a decision the facilitator needs to pay
                    attention to a number of key factors. These factors include: aspects of group
                    development; the skills and styles of leadership; the roles of client and resource
                    group; group orientation, composition and size; process technology; and the
                    structure of the environment. In addition, the facilitator may need to consider the
                    required quality of the outcome as well as the needed level of acceptance from group
                    members.
                    Table 1, describing assets and liabilities of using groups, has been developed by
                    weaving together the work of Maier (1970), Vroom (1974), Van Gundy (1984):
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                    Table One: Potential Assets and Liabilities of Using a Group
                    When considering the use of small groups for CPS the facilitator needs to evaluate
                    the existence of the liabilities and assets. The goal is to maximize the positive as-
                    pects of group involvement while minimizing the liabilities. For example, as the
                    facilitator can increase the productive use of diversity the likelihood of individual
                    dominance should decrease. In general, if there is a need to provide for
                    participation to increase acceptance, if the information is widely held, if there is a
                    need to build on and synthesize the diverse range of experiences and perspectives or
                    if it is important to develop and strengthen the group's ability to learn, you may
                    choose to involve a group in CPS.
                    Group Development
                    Once the group leader has decided that the resources of a group should be convened,
                    there are a number of dynamics to consider. One of the first of these is the notion
                    that groups go through certain phases of development (Bales & Strodtbeck, 1951;
                    Lacoursiere, 1980; Tuckman, 1965). Groups are not static. Like individuals, they
                    are unique, dynamic, complex living systems, capable of learning and development.
                    Figure 4 depicts the Jones (1983) model for group development. According to this
                    model, the stages a group goes through while moving toward some desired goal are
                    relatively predictable and controllable. In reality, it is quite clear that in practice
                    these stages are not necessarily linear and sequential. Some groups seem to skip
                    stages, others will approach them in reverse order. Still others will reach a level
                    and need to begin all over again because a new member has joined the group. One
                    of the classic leadership dilemmas is getting the work done while at the same time
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                    maintaining positive human relations. It is this essential tension which is nicely
                    displayed below within the context of group development.
                    Figure Four: A Model for Group Development
                    Understanding where groups are and where you want them to be can be helpful in
                    planning for maximum effectiveness and productivity. The two dimensions of the
                    model are personal relations and task functions. In other models these dimensions
                    go by other names, but a number of people involved in group development have
                    identified these two dimensions as being central to the process. The classic
                    leadership dilemma is getting the work done while at the same time maintaining
                    positive human relations. Some balance is sought between concern for people and
                    concern for task (Blake & Mouton, 1964).
                    The personal relations dimension refers to the development of the "human side" of
                    the activity that occurs in the group. Whether it is a task group or a growth group,
                    people progress in development from individuals to group members. They move to
                    become people who feel some attachment to each other and finally, to people who
                    are able to link up in creative kinds of ways. Personal relations involve how people
                    feel about each other, how people expect each other to behave, the commitments
                    that people develop to each other, the kinds of assumptions that people make about
                    each other, and the kinds of problems people have in joining forces with each other
                    in order to get work done. The assumption is that the kinds of groups that are
                    referred to here are all organized for the purpose of achieving goals, tasks,
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                    production, etc. and that personal relations refers to the human component in the
                    accomplishing of this purpose.
                    The other dimension is task functions. Characteristic behaviors can also be
                    identified in the different stages of group development with regard to task. A group
                    comes together, learns what the task is, mobilizes to accomplish the task, and does
                    the work. So the two dimensions, personal relations and task functions, form a
                    matrix in which there is an interaction between characteristic human relations and
                    task-oriented behaviors at the various stages of group development. Of course, no
                    two-dimensional model can completely subsume all the data of group interaction
                    without a loss of some precision. The purpose of looking at group development in
                    this relatively simplistic way is to underline the importance, not only of the two
                    dimensions human and task but also to provide a common language whereby
                    group members can explore the emerging characteristics and parameters of the
                    group.
                    Stage one: Forming
                    In the initial stage, called forming, personal relations are characterized by depen-
                    dency, and the major task functions concern orientation. In the beginning of the
                    group’s life, the individual members must resolve a number of dependency problems
                    and characteristic behaviors on the personal relations dimension. They tend to de-
                    pend on the leader to provide all the structure: the group members lean on the
                    facilitator, chairman, or manager to set the ground rules, establish the agenda, and
                    to do all the "leading." The parallel stage in the task function to be accomplished is
                    the orientation of group members to the work that they are being asked to do. The
                    issues have to be specified. The nature of the work itself has to be explored so there
                    is a common understanding of what the group has been organized to do. Common
                    behavior at this point is questioning why we are here, what are we supposed to do,
                    how are we going to get it done, and what are our goals?
                    There are clear implications for the CPS facilitator when the group is at this stage
                    of group development. This is the stage where the skills associated with training
                    and teaching are critical. The CPS facilitator must take charge long enough to
                    provide a basic orientation for the group and lay out basic ground-rules for
                    operating together.
                    Stage two: Storming
                    Stage two is characterized by conflict in the personal relations dimension and
                    organization in the task functions dimension. It is referred to as "storming" because
                    interpersonal conflict inevitably ensues as a part of small group interaction. It may
                    be that the conflict remains hidden, but it is there. We bring to small group activity
                    a lot of our own unresolved conflicts with regard to authority, dependency, rules,
                    and agenda, and we experience interpersonal conflict as we organize to get work
                    done. Who is going to be responsible for what; what are going to be the rules; what
                    are going to be the limits; what is going to be the reward system; what are going to
                    be the criteria? The variety of organizational concerns that emerge reflect
                    interpersonal conflict over leadership structure, power, and authority.
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                    When learning and applying CPS, members of groups will often have different per-
                    spectives on the use of techniques or guidelines. Often questions are put forward
                    regarding the value or appropriateness of CPS. On the one hand, it is important for
                    this type of disagreement or questioning to occur. On the other hand, it must be
                    met with effective answers, explanations and modeling. The CPS facilitator must
                    be able to respond effectively to this kind of storming. Identifying the three roles,
                    having a good understanding of the needs of the client and selecting the group
                    members carefully can often pay dividends during this stage of group development.
                    Managing interpersonal tension regarding options or ideas is critical at this stage.
                    Keeping this kind of tension separate from personal tension where individuals
                    might attach the person to the idea is also important. Groups must often be helped
                    through this stage or they will not form into a more cohesive unit capable of high-
                    level performance. This is the stage at which effective application of situational
                    leadership is needed. Some members will be done with storming at different times.
                    Stage three: Norming
                    In stage three, the personal relations area is marked by cohesion, and the major
                    task function is data-flow. It is during this "norming" stage of development,
                    assuming the group gets this far, that the people begin to experience a sense of
                    "groupness," a feeling of clarification at having resolved interpersonal conflict. They
                    begin sharing ideas, feelings, giving feedback to each other, soliciting feedback,
                    exploring actions related to the task, and sharing information related to the task.
                    This becomes a period during which people feel good about what is going on; they
                    feel good about being a part of a group, and there is an emerging openness with
                    regard to task. Sometimes during stage three there is a brief abandonment of the
                    task and a period of play that is an enjoyment of the cohesion that is being
                    experienced.
                    When CPS groups reach this stage, it will be important for the facilitator to provide
                    some recognition and celebration of the success of the group. It would be analogous
                    to the feast following the hunt or the song after successfully managing a boat
                    through the white water. A major challenge for the facilitator is to channel this
                    positive energy onto the client's task. It is often at this stage that facilitators begin
                    to feel the energy and weight of the group whereas at earlier stages the goal
                    structures were more individualistic and competitive. Now the group may want to
                    cooperate on every task and get hung up when they can't be "…all for one and one
                    for all." Maintaining the focus on the CPS process while encouraging the meeting of
                    the client's need is the major task for the facilitator. The challenge is to let the
                    celebration of consensus last long enough to recharge and refocus the group, but not
                    too long so as to invest unnecessary energy in managing the group for the group's
                    own sake. CPS groups are not formed necessarily or solely as social support
                    systems.
                    Stage four: Performing
                    Stage four is rarely achieved by most groups. This fourth stage is called
                    "performing" and is marked by interdependence on the personal relations dimension
                    and problem solving on the task functions dimension. Interdependence means that
                    members can work singly, in any sub-grouping, or as a total unit. They are both
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                    highly task-oriented and highly person-oriented. The activities are marked by both
                    collaboration and functional competition. The group’s tasks are well defined, there
                    is high commitment to common activity, and there is support for experimentation
                    and risk-taking.
                    This is the stage at which the CPS facilitator can "push the boundaries" on applying
                    the process. In a sense, if the dynamics have been managed well, the CPS frame-
                    work ought to help more groups get to this stage of development. The performing
                    stage is what really fits the effective application of CPS. This is the stage where the
                    facilitator's challenge will be more focused on selecting the appropriate techniques
                    to "ride the wave." Observing the energy of the group, keeping them focused on the
                    task while understanding the reactions of the client become significant challenges
                    for the facilitator.
                    It is during the performing stage where individual members are both empowered
                    and aligned. They have a shared vision for why they are together and how they are
                    operating. It is at this point where it is appropriate to use the label "team." It is
                    important to remember that groups will not stay at this stage forever (nor should
                    they). During the norming process, the group has very probably formed around an
                    implicit set of assumptions. Occasionally, the facilitator will need to test the
                    boundaries or even question their existence.
                    Applying the model of group development
                    When applying the model it is important to remember that this is not a static de-
                    scription of how groups develop. In other words, it is highly unlikely that a
                    particular group would work their way through this process in a systematic
                    manner. Groups will continually develop. Each time a new member joins or a new
                    task is introduced, the development process begins anew.
                    Understanding some of the dynamics and patterns that occur within groups is
                    essential if a leader wants to diagnose and describe the current status of any group;
                    predict what might occur in the future; and provide behavior and influence which
                    might help the group move on to a more productive level of development. For the
                    leader of CPS activity, it is important to provide appropriate leadership strategies
                    to move the group beyond learning basic skills and how the CPS techniques can be
                    organized around components and process. The aim is productively applying these
                    learnings to real challenges and opportunities. Group development combined with
                    an appropriate understanding and application of leadership strategies can help CPS
                    groups reach higher levels of application (Carew, Parisi-Carew & Blanchard, 1984).
                    Managing groups
                    There are many challenges to the effective management of groups. We have all
                    seen groups that have "gone wrong." As a group develops, there are certain aspects
                    or guidelines which might be helpful to keep them on track. Hackman (1990) has
                    identified a number of themes relevant to those who design, lead and facilitate
                    groups. In examining a variety of organizational work groups, he found some "trip
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                    wires" that could lead to major mistakes when managing groups. In addition, from
                    our own experience, we have identified a number of key contingencies to consider
                    when managing CPS groups. These are identified below.
                    Group versus team
                    One of the mistakes that is often made when managing groups is to call the group a
                    team but to actually treat it as nothing more than a collection of individuals. It is
                    important to be very clear about the underlying goal structure. Organizations are
                    often surprised that teams don't function too well in their environment. Of course,
                    they often fail to examine the essential ingredient of competition in their rating or
                    review process.
                    If a team is important, then a cooperative goal structure will be more appropriate.
                    The group must be accountable for its outcomes. Reward and recognition systems
                    need to built around different perspectives. If one wants the benefits of teamwork,
                    then teams must be built and developed.
                    Ends versus means
                    Managing the source of authority for groups is a delicate balance. Just how much
                    authority can you assign to the team to work out its own issues and challenges? For
                    the CPS facilitator, the authority issue is handled primarily by the charge given by
                    the client. The outcome of the client-facilitator planning meeting ought to be a clear
                    direction for the problem-solving efforts of the group.
                    The group should not be told exactly the kinds of problem statements to generate or
                    the precise qualities of the ideas to be generated. However, group members should
                    be given a clear understanding of the general direction in which the client needs to
                    move. The end, direction or outer limit constraints ought to be specified, but the
                    means to get there ought to be within the authority and responsibility of the group.
                    Structured freedom
                    It is a major mistake to assemble a group of people, tell them in general terms what
                    needs to be accomplished and let them work out the details. At times, the belief is
                    that if groups are to be creative, they ought not be given any structure. It turns out
                    that most groups would find a little structure quite enabling if it were the right
                    kind. Groups generally need a well-defined task, they need to be composed of an
                    appropriately small number to be manageable but large enough to be diverse, and
                    they need clear limits to the group's authority and responsibility.
                    In terms of facilitating CPS, the well-defined task can be the result of client-
                    facilitator planning and the preparation of the group to deal effectively with the
                    process technology. We generally recommend that group size be no fewer than five
                    and no more than seven. The extent to which resource-group members need to be
                    diverse depends greatly on the nature of the task. Finally, the roles within the
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                    group insure an adequate understanding of the expected behaviors and
                    responsibilities of the group members.
                    Structures and systems supportive of teamwork
                    Often challenging team objectives are set but the organization skimps on support to
                    make that objective a reality. In general, high performing teams need a reward sys-
                    tem which recognizes and reinforces excellent team performance. They also need
                    access to good quality and adequate information as well as training and educational
                    support. Good team performance is also dependent on having an adequate level of
                    material and financial resources to get the job done.
                    Assumed competence
                    Many organizations have a great deal of faith in their selection systems.
                    Facilitators cannot assume that the group members have all the competence they
                    need to work effectively as a team. Often it has been a technical set of skills and
                    abilities which has put someone in a position for inclusion within a CPS group.
                    Members will undoubtedly need explicit coaching on skills they need to work well in
                    a team. Coaching and other support interventions are best done during the launch,
                    a natural break in the task or at the end of a performance or review period. It
                    appears that the start-up phase is probably the most important time-frame to
                    provide the necessary coaching or training.
                    Group orientation
                    All group members need to have some basic information regarding what they are
                    expected to do. Agreement is necessary regarding the procedures and methods used
                    for group activity. It is also very helpful for group members to be aware of their
                    strengths and limitations in using various process technologies, as well as the kinds
                    of personal and situational blocks to creative thinking which may surface during
                    the session.
                    Composition
                    Some deliberate decisions need to be made regarding the number and type of
                    human resources to be a part of the session. Heterogeneity of perspectives and
                    experiences as well as homogeneity of levels of power should be considered.
                    Generally, CPS groups should be informed of the criteria used in member selection.
                    Group size
                    Depending on the purposes of the session, a certain number of participants should
                    be specified (generally 5-7). Larger groups should provide additional facilitators to
                    allow an equivalent ratio. The facilitator may also want to consider the levels of
                    expertise necessary in dealing with the client’s task and insure adequate input and
                    deliberation during the planning meetings prior to group sessions.
                    The structure of the environment
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                    © The Creative Problem Solving Group – Buffalo, 1994.
                    The climate or environment within which the task occurs needs to be conducive to
                    creativity. Group members need to have a certain degree of trust and safety to
                    make contributions and engage in open communication. The facilitator has a
                    special challenge to establish a social climate which is characterized by
                    psychological safety and encourages the participants to obtain an internal or
                    intrapersonal climate which overcomes barriers to effective problem solving.
                    Some attention must be focused on assuring that the necessary equipment and re-
                    sources are assembled for the session. This means setting up visuals, flipcharts
                    with plenty of paper and markers, and a means for affixing these papers in a
                    prominent place for all to see. In addition, the group should be assembled in a place
                    where it is possible to be comfortable to share ideas and engage in effective
                    communication.
                    The purpose of the session, as well as the amount of time to be scheduled, should be
                    explicitly identified for all group members. Is the purpose of the group meeting to
                    identify the initial statement of the problem, to generate ideas, or to develop and
                    evaluate options? A specific process task should be identified and an appropriate
                    amount of time should be set aside for the accomplishment of that task.
                    The environment may provide some indications regarding the level of quality
                    needed for the decision, as well as the level of acceptance required for
                    implementation. If the leader lacks the necessary information and other group
                    members have that information, the leader can increase the quality of the outcome
                    by involving a group. The same is true if the leader does not know what type of
                    information is required or where it is located.
                    Involving group members in problem-solving sessions that affect them increases ac-
                    ceptance of the outcome or solution. The facilitator who can analyze the environ-
                    mental considerations to structure the appropriate climate can be assured of a
                    greater degree of success in utilizing group resources.
                    Conclusions
                    This paper has attempted to present some key considerations for facilitators inter-
                    ested in effective utilization of group resources during creative problem solving.
                    The paper should be considered only a beginning point in discovering the various
                    aspects of group-oriented leadership for creative problem-solving groups.
                    Facilitating CPS is an activity which can draw upon the knowledge and expertise of
                    a wide array of disciplines and areas of work. The challenges of facilitating CPS are
                    of high future value in that they deal with a new frontier of human understanding:
                    how we use the human imagination to improve the quality of our existence.
                    General Suggestions for Applying CPS
                    Page 31
                    Isaksen – Facilitating Creative Problem Solving Groups
                    © The Creative Problem Solving Group – Buffalo, 1994.
                    There are many opportunities to learn about the effective facilitation of CPS. There
                    are also some "trip wires" to avoid and some suggestions which might be productive.
                    One of the first things to avoid is calling the group together and identifying them as
                    a "problem-solving team" but failing to adequately distinguish their special roles
                    and responsibilities to the group. Group leaders need to encourage team members
                    to accept responsibility and accountability for their roles and tasks. The CPS
                    facilitator does this by ensuring real clientship for tasks on which the group works.
                    Also, the facilitator does not assume that all group members understand all that
                    they need to know regarding their roles and the process procedures to be employed.
                    Some deliberate time and energy must be invested in teaching the participants
                    their roles and a few basic process guidelines and techniques. Organizations that
                    demonstrate the effective application of CPS usually have a strong emphasis on
                    learning.
                    The following suggestions may be helpful for those who attempt to facilitate CPS
                    sessions after learning some basic approaches and techniques.
                    Use personally to show effectiveness
                    Convince yourself first of the value and effective use of the techniques. Participants
                    who go out and practice the use of the tools usually feel more confident in their use
                    and are more effective at sharing with their colleagues. It really helps to have a
                    variety of personal examples from which to draw!
                    Demonstrate benefits
                    It is helpful if you are able to document the benefits of using methods and
                    techniques which add value to you, your team and your organization. A participant
                    who was able to record the cost savings on her job was able to attend more training
                    sessions paid for by the management.
                    Use soon after training
                    You are probably better off if you make specific plans to apply your learning early,
                    rather than delay use for "the perfect opportunity." Participants report that it has
                    usually been better for them to use the tools soon after the training experience
                    while their memories are still fresh.
                    Continue your learning
                    Usually, these courses are very brief in duration compared with an entire semester
                    or program of structured learning which can last a few years. Such programs are
                    good opportunities for general exposure and some limited application. It makes
                    sense to continue learning through reading, attending additional coursework and
                    personal study. In short, consider it a challenge to extend your knowledge base!
                    Debrief your use of CPS
                    Page 32
                    Isaksen – Facilitating Creative Problem Solving Groups
                    © The Creative Problem Solving Group – Buffalo, 1994.
                    Many excellent facilitators of CPS use a process journal or notebook in which they
                    make notes about their learning and application. They are able to review their
                    progress and clarify their learning accomplishments and needs. They are able to
                    consider the things they seem to be doing well and the questions they have for self
                    improvement.
                    Use process flexibly
                    Although you may currently see CPS as a general system which contains three com-
                    ponents and six stages, the most appropriate use of CPS is flexible and dynamic.
                    Participants who search for the opportunity to use all three components and all six
                    stages may never find the perfect chance to use the CPS process. CPS is designed
                    to be personally helpful in meeting challenges, attaining goals and overcoming
                    problems. Use pieces or parts of the process where you think they may be useful.
                    Perhaps it may only be necessary to use one technique with a group; or even use the
                    tool personally and share only the outcomes with the group.
                    Use on low-risk challenge
                    Many participants have reported that it is helpful to initially try using CPS on
                    something that does not mean life or death, or is job threatening for you or others.
                    It may be helpful to be in the position to be playful or at least to freely explore
                    novelty for early application of learning.
                    Integrate its use
                    One of the strongest messages participants have shared is how important it is to
                    weave CPS tools into the work they do. Rather than establish a special learning or
                    application situation, it seems to be important to use CPS on every day challenges
                    and tasks. This is an effective way to show how CPS relates to real business or or-
                    ganizational needs.
                    Find a sponsor
                    It is helpful to identify an important client or someone who is really interested in
                    improved productivity (or for that matter anyone in a position of providing support
                    who is dissatisfied with the current reality). Offering the application of CPS on
                    something this sponsor wants to change or improve can be very helpful in gaining
                    support.
                    Find a safe group
                    Many participants have indicated that it was helpful to have a small group of
                    people to work with who were personally supportive for their initial attempt to use
                    these strategies. Sometimes it was a matter of offering to share a technique with
                    this group and then experiencing a small degree of success that made the difference!
                    Team up
                    Page 33
                    Isaksen – Facilitating Creative Problem Solving Groups
                    © The Creative Problem Solving Group – Buffalo, 1994.
                    Many people have been trained in CPS. You may find support by teaming up with
                    alumni of this course or facilitators or others in the network of those who know and
                    use CPS. Having someone else in your group who knows the language and can offer
                    you support can increase your effectiveness and learning.
                    Use outside experts
                    Many participants have found it helpful to bring in a few outsiders to get the ball
                    rolling. These people, just because they come from somewhere else, seem to offer a
                    low risk way to get some attention focused on using CPS and may "prime the
                    pump."
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                    • … A facilitator is trained in the tool, is responsible for the process and procedures, structures and prepares the environment, reinforces roles and ground rules for the session, focuses the resources of the group, and is sensitive to a variety of group dynamics. During a typical CPS session, a group is led by a facilitator (Firestien & Treffinger, 1983Isaksen, 1983Isaksen, , 1992Isaksen & Dorval, 1996;Parnes, 1985;. …
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                      • Jan 1998
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                        Scott G. Isaksen

                    • … Denna metod innebär inte att endast lösa problem. Arbetsgruppens kreativitet har nämligen fokus på nya utmaningar och blir verksam i gapet mellan verksamhetens aktuella nuläge och framtida vision (Isaksen, 1992). CPS är en metod för att lösa problem med hjälp av kreativitet för att övervinna hinder och uppnå mål. …
                      KREATIVITET OCH MOTIVATION HOS ARBETSTEAM I ORGANISATIONER
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                    • Reported Practices of Creative Problem Solving Facilitators
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