Collective Notebook

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Creativity Techniques
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Haefele’s Original Version

According to VanGundy (1981; 1988), John Haefele (1962) of Proctor and Gamble devised CNB to encourage idea generation within an organisation. A key advantage is that since the idea generation is extended over several weeks, the opportunity for incubation and exposure to a wide range of stimuli is readily available. Unfortunately the workload on the co-ordinator can be high if numerous people are taking part, however, that on the participants is very low.

Each participant is provided with a notebook (by the co-ordinator) describing the course of action and giving a broad problem statement. The notebook also contains some suggestions for generating ideas, such as:

  • Transformation methods (reverse, expand, minimise)
  • Exploration methods (listing problem characteristics or similar problems)
  • Seeking remote associations (random stimuli from all five senses; unusual properties of other substances).
  1. Every day, for one month each participant writes one idea in the notebook.
  2. At regular periods during the month, participants are given further related information from the experts, the literature and colleagues.
  3. After four weeks, the participants present a brief written summary, giving:
    • Their best idea to solve the problem
    • Ideas for further investigations that might help solve the problem
    • Any completely new ideas about issues unconnected to the problem.
  4. The notebooks are collected (by the co-ordinator), where the ideas are categorised and summarised.
  5. Participants can then view all the notebooks and the co-ordinator's report, after which there may be a general group discussion.

Pearson’s Variant

Pearson’s (1979) report is built on the basic structure of Haefel’s original version, but brings his version closer to the Delphi technique.

Participants are drawn from several organisations all over the country and provided with notebooks describing the procedure and giving a broad scenario-prediction task (e.g. about the factors likely to affect managers in the short, medium and long term and their possible consequences)

For up to 2 weeks each participant writes one idea per day in the notebook and then exchanges their notebook with a pre-assigned partner, reads the partner’s ideas, and then continues adding one idea a day to the partner’s book for a further week.

The notebooks are then collected and divided between a team of 3 co-coordinators (to reduce the administrative load) who highlight the key ideas. Responses are categorised (e.g. into issues vs. consequences) and recorded onto index cards. Alternative storyline scenarios are then developed (e.g. round one set of grouping in terms of political, social, technical, economic, personal and resource consequences and another in terms of short- medium- and long-term futures).

The scenarios are compared and discussed to generate further ideas.