101 Activities For Teaching Creativity And Problem Solving

(Joyce) #1
101 Activities for Teaching Creativity and Problem Solving.Copyright © 2005 by John Wiley &
Sons, Inc. Reproduced by permission of Pfeiffer, an Imprint of Wiley. http://www.pfeiffer.com

9. Name Change

We play name games every day. Whenever we refer to a per-
son, object, place, or concept, we use labels known as names.
The words “George,” “book,” “beach,” and “gravity” all are
names we use to communicate. Without such words, we
would have trouble understanding one another. Thus, daily
interactions involve a series of communication attempts using labels.
When we confront problems, we classify and identify them with labels such as “finan-
cial,” “marketing,” “personnel,” or “quality control.” These labels help us distinguish
among different types of problems and provide a common basis for understanding. If I
say I have a personnel problem, then you know I have a problem involving people. You
may not know exactly what my problem is, but the label “personnel” helps you narrow
the problem down and eliminate other types of problems as possibilities.
Although labels are essential for effective communication, they can make problem
solving more difficult. One danger of labeling problems is that we may stereotype certain
problems. If taken to the extreme, this tendency can restrict our ability to think of solu-
Defining a problem with a label limits how we perceive the problem. It can create a
narrow perspective even when none was intended. For instance, suppose you define a
particular personnel problem as “How can we motivate employees to work harder?”
Such a definition limits possible solutions for motivating employees. Although there is
nothing intrinsically wrong with limiting solutions, it does decrease management’s
options in this case.


  • To help participants generate as many creative ideas as possible

  • To help participants learn how to use the activities to generate ideas

Small groups of four to seven people each

Basic Idea Generation: “No-Brainers” 65

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