Creative Confidence: Mapping Collaborative Innovations

eight different people's approaches on creative mapping, displayed on papers against a wall

“The truth is, we all have far more creative potential waiting to be tapped.”

So state Tom and David Kelley in their exceptional book Creative Confidence. Tom Kelley is the author of The Art of Innovation, and his brother David Kelley founded IDEO and Stanford RCSG has long been a fan of the creative strategies this pair have developed.

Several copies of Creative Confidence lie about the Red Cedar office, frequently visited for inspiration and as a reminder to embrace the power of creativity, especially in such a fast-changing and boundless field as software development.

In order to get more out of the lessons provided in this book, Red Cedar Solutions Group has begun a new initiative to implement the principles of creative confidence. In March 2017, we gathered project managers, designers, business analysts and software engineers together to discuss strategies for getting the most out of our collective creative strength.

Before we met, each team member took 30 to 60 minutes to create a “mindmap.” This is an exercise in creativity in which individuals draw  their ideas on paper, using just circles, connective lines, and text to expand upon a topic without fear of wasting time or going down the wrong path. The Kelley brothers believe this activity is great for “facilitating divergent or unconventional thinking … mindmaps help to generate ideas.” Our team was tasked with creating an “Innovation File” for a long-time client..

As each of us took turns describing our thinking process and the ideas that resulted, the enthusiasm in the room was palpable. Some members suggested implementing new software tools; others offered solutions for improving visual design. Team members found themselves laughing at far-reaching ideas on their mindmaps, but such comments often sparked a new idea from someone else in the room. Suggestions and quick iterations regarding how, when, or  whether such solutions could actually work were lobbied back and forth across the table, and we ultimately discovered insights that otherwise never would have surfaced.

Of course, this event was only the first step toward engaging our teams to expand and grow our creative confidence as an interdisciplinary team. Since that day, we have taken the next steps to develop a prototype based on the ideas we generated separately and together. Who knew work could be so much fun?