Change Implementation Techniques for Forming Transitional Team, Creating Alignment, Maximizing Connectedness and Creativity

Technique 6.21 Odd Person in

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This is similar to the "devil's advocate" approach.

It involves including in the group some individual(s) who has little background, or expertise or relationship to the problem at hand. The rationale for this is individuals have difficulty being creative about familiar things.

This strategy can expand the creativity levels directly by offering a fresh perspective, and indirectly by knocking group members out of their persistent modes of thinking.

Some examples of this technique

- the use of an assertive vet. as the "odd person in" to help mining engineers find a new way to develop a mine. The vet. knew very little about mining, but used his role to continually challenge the mining engineers' mindsets, assumptions, beliefs, etc. about developing a mine. This approach resulted in finding a new and cheaper way that cut costs by 50% and saved about $300 million!!

- a variation of this is a global food-manufacturing organisation taking staff to a traffic control centre to see whether they could learn anything about supply chain management from watching a city cope with 1.2 million cars. The result was that the food-manufacturing organisation halved the time it took to get new products on shelves.

- Nathan Myhrvold, who started Microsoft's research division, formed a group called Intellectual Ventures in which a group of brilliant friends from many different disciplines meet regularly to cross-pollinate ideas. The ideas generated come from people unconcerned with boundaries based on expertise . Some interesting suggestions include cancer filters for the treatment of malignancy (these filters are injected into the bloodstream and have the potential to filter out cancer cells); the use of subcutaneous X-rays; developing a safer form of nuclear energy (a mini reactor that would run on thorium - a mildly radioactive material that is in abundant supply).

(sources: CPEM, 1997; Ian Williams, 2001; Luke Collins, 2006; Philip Adams, 2009)


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