Laurel Ofstein from DePaul University's Center for Creativity and Innovation was the plenary speaker for LOEX 2008 in Oak Brook, IL. She described the nine dimensions of a creative environment:
- Idea support – are new ideas encouraged or judged?
- Trust and openness – are staff free to share ideas?
- Discussion – are staff comfortable enough to discuss the idea freely?
- Challenge and involvement – do staff feel that they own the organization and have a stake in success?
- Idea time – do staff have time to work on new ideas as part of normal job?
- Humor and play – are staff comfortable enough to be humorous at work?
- Freedom – are staff macro or micro managed?
- Risk taking – do staff feel they can fail and not be punished?
- Degree of conflict – are staff in competition with one another or other groups within organization?
Laurel suggested a few tactics to focus creativity:
- Work backwards from the end solution.
- Ask the question, "Wouldn't it be nice if…" to help define outcomes.
- Ask the question, "In what ways might we…" to help define options.
- Challenge an assumption by writing down its opposite, identify advantages that could come from the challenges of the opposite assumption, study the challenged assumptions and identify new opportunities.
She recommended the book, Ideas are free: how the idea revolution is liberating people and transforming organizations for further reading.