Fresh eye

A to Z of
Creativity Techniques
Gallery method

The ‘fresh eye’ technique looks directly to ‘outsiders’ who are not so affected by the ‘tunnel vision’ that can be experienced by practicing problem solvers.

Basic Model

  1. Write down your problem simply, clearly and in a non-technical format
  2. Show it to people who have no direct experience of the problem and invite ideas and opinions. Recommend that they think about the problem for a few days, write down any ideas and thoughts they have about what they see as the ‘real’ problem and any potential solutions. It is essential that their expectations of your ability to use their ideas are realistic (see Step 4).
  3. Develop or re-interpret the ideas so that they become workable. You should anticipate the idea may be technically naive, but nevertheless still be creatively thought provoking.
  4. Provide responsive feedback to the helper to show their contributions are appreciated, valued and of productive use. If your helper feels undervalued, further help towards yourself will not be forthcoming. Equally if your helper receives feedback of how their ideas were put to use they will be only too glad to help again.

Face-to-face Networking Model

The basic model is only workable if you are certain that your relationship with the helper is one of trust, i.e. that your helper accepts that when he offers ‘naive’ ideas they are of actual help to you. One approach in handling this would be to raise it conversationally at an informal face-to-face meeting (e.g. over a drink in the pub, at the ‘golf club’, etc.)

Should you decide to take this ‘personal’ approach it is essential to have:

  • Good non-directive listening skills, so that you maintain your helper’s interest and enthusiasm.
  • Show that you really value what they are saying.
  • Keep them broadly ‘on topic’, but at the same time minimise your influence on the content of what they say.

Managers often maintain networks of contacts, with whom they have built up long-term relationships founded on the exchange of favours in this and other ways. Clearly there are significant costs of time and effort in sustaining such a network, but the mutual obligations and understanding built up over time mean that contacts are likely to be much more productive.