• Creative Problem Solving

    Powerful tools for 21st Century thinking

    21st Century learners need 21st Century teachers, curriculum, and instruction. Our work is contemporary - but we also build on more than five decades of research, development, and field experience worldwide.

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  • Talent Development

    Building Students' Strengths and Talents

    As an individual, a parent, an educator, or a community leader, one of the most exciting challenges for anyone is to become aware of personal strengths and talents— their own or in others.

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  • Problem Solving Styles

    Unique Personal and Team Strengths

    Problem-solving styles are consistent individual differences in the ways people prefer to deal with new ideas, manage change, and respond effectively to complex, open-ended opportunities and challenges.

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Coaching and mentoring involve powerful relationships among people. We view coaching as an interpersonal working relationship in which an experienced person works with another person (or group) to strengthen or build their skills by sharing his or her expertise with them. We view mentoring as a two-way creative partnership, in which a more experienced person guides, works closely with, and learns from a less-experienced partner. Coaching and mentoring share some important attributes. They are personal, intensive, and sustained. They involve engagement and creative effort, and they seek to add meaning and value to the work in which the participants are engaged. They also involve relationships in which there is mutual respect and caring between or among the participants. Those relationships draw upon shared content expertise or interests, planning and communication skills, and process tools. However, successful coaching and mentoring experiences can also benefit from knowledge and application of style preferences. You can use VIEW as a tool to establish and maintain the effectiveness of these relationships. When coaching or mentoring, be aware that the participants may view and approach problems, processes, and decisions in different ways. Don't make assumptions about peoples' competence or motivation with discussing your strengths and needs. Don't assume that common content interests or expertise also means that you can assume common style preferences. People can be novices — or experts — in very different ways.

Examples

Some examples of ways to use VIEW in coaching and mentoring include:

  • A staff member was responsible for coaching several interns as they worked on a variety of tasks in their work group. Although the staff member was a professional with recognized expertise and experience in the field, he recognized that his way of handling many of the tasks was not "the only way" to approach those tasks effectively and appropriately. The staff member and all the interns completed VIEW at the beginning of the internship experience and discussed the results. When they prepared to deal with a new task, they held a group meeting in which they generated options about how to approach the task. Then, they considered ways that various responses might reflect style differences, and developed procedures for working on the tasks in style-appropriate ways.

  • A senior scientist served as a mentor for a junior staff member in a research laboratory. The senior scientist, with a strong external and explorer preference, approached her research agenda by seeking novel ways to redefine problems, often in ways that challenged many established principles and procedures in the field. The protégé, who was much more oriented toward an internal and developer preference, initially found the mentor inspiring but incomprehensible. The protégé had difficulty following or accepting the mentor's "leaps" of analysis, and often found her explanations and instructions unclear, rambling, and difficult to follow. The scientist feared that the protégé lacked enthusiasm and had difficulty "seeing the big picture." After completing VIEW and discussing their results, the scientists discovered ways to communicate more effectively and to work together more productively.

In today's world, more and more work is being done by teams. Teamwork and team-building are important concerns, whenever you expect small groups of people to work together collaboratively toward a common goal or outcome. Effective teams have mutual and shared accountability for their team's goal; their results may bear on the evaluation of the individuals and the team as a whole. In order to be effective, teams must also be able to their collaboration, effective communication, and positive interactions over a sustained period of time.

When you are responsible for building or guiding teams, you can apply VIEW in several ways. VIEW can provide a common language or vocabulary for exchanging information about the similarities and difference among team members. This will help the team members to recognize and respect differences, rather than viewing others with differing preferences as "odd", "wrong", or "ineffective". Team members need to understand that "differences are not deficits". Group members can also sustain their team's working relationship when they are able to celebrate each other's strengths and use their differences to complement each other. Knowledge of VIEW results will help teams to be aware of shared strengths, of the unique contributions each member can make to the team's performance, and of potential difficulties that might be faced by teams in which there is little or no diversity of style. Using VIEW can help you to give team members constructive ways to understand and respect their differences and put them to good use.

Example

A team working together to implement a new project was working very hard to gain consensus and to build momentum in planning and carrying out specific short-term actions to help their project attain much-needed success. Every so often they would reach a point at which they seemed to split into isolated groups or factions that were moving in opposite directions. The team members all responded to VIEW and reviewed their results. All team members voluntarily shared their individual results with each other, and they noticed that there were two sub-groups whose scores were completely opposite each other's on all three dimensions. This helped them to understand why they were experiencing frustration. Some coaching followed the group feedback exercise, and helped the team members to accept all the members for who they were, how they might collaborate more effectively to their overall success. Their subsequent meetings went much better as a result. The group was able to reach consensus much faster and ended up with plenty of buy-in for short-term actions. They were also able to develop several additional ideas for longer-term actions and initiatives.

Designing instruction for learners of all ages, and in many settings involves a number of important tasks and challenges, including formulating curriculum goals and objectives; planning, preparing and delivering study materials and resources; carrying out the interaction between and among leaders and participants in a learning setting; and, formulating, communicating, and assessing expectations for participation and performance. If your work involves designing curriculum, instructional resources, or training programs, being aware that people learn in many different ways (and that you can help improve their participation and performance by recognizing and responding to those differences), you will discover that you can apply VIEW in many ways. In projects or assignments that call upon learners to "be creative," provide explicitly for learners with different preferences on orientation to change to be creative in their own way. When you are developing new resources, look closely at materials to ensure that they challenge learners to use their style preferences to do their best work. Engage learners in formulating and discussing criteria for making decisions or evaluating products.

Examples

Some ways to use VIEW in designing instruction include:

  • Include activities enabling learners with an external processing preference to work and share in groups as they plan and carry out their tasks, as well as options enabling those with internal preferences to reflect quietly before they are expected to share or present their work. Offer multiple options in projects or assignments.

  • Encourage learners to consider both person and task criteria when designing strategies for evaluating products or presentations.

  • When designing and making assignments, include options that challenge learners with an explorer preference to look at new and different possibilities, as well as for those with a developer preference to seek improvements and creative refinements.

  • Help learners to understand their own preferences so they will know how to be their best, and so they will know how to appreciate and benefit from the contrasting strengths of others.

  • Ask colleagues whose style differs from yours to review materials you create to check for unintended basis in language or requirements.

Leadership is a relationship between those who commit to lead and those who decide to follow; it is not a position or place. Any consideration of leadership must attend to the dynamics of this relationship. Strategies, tactics, skills, and practices are pointless unless we understand the fundamental human aspirations that connect leaders and their constituents. If there is no underlying need for the relationship, then there is no need for leaders. Taking full advantage of the insights provided by VIEW, those who lead and manage organizations can increase their capacity to influence and inspire others. This process starts by recognizing the inherent value of diversity. Diversity is any dimension that can be used to differentiate groups and people from each other. VIEW assesses diversity in problem solving styles.

  • When you work to transform any kind of organization, you must often challenge the way things are currently being done. Organizations must have the capacity for developing better approaches and exploring different approaches for challenging the process.

  • When it comes to enabling change, leaders must recognize that people differ in their preferences for processing information and ideas internally and externally. This requires leaders to adjust their communication and interaction to provide for an appropriate balance of reflection and action.

  • When you need to deliver results and obtain commitments for taking action, you must make good decisions and consider many options and alternatives. Leaders play a key role in establishing the climate that allows for effective decision-making. Effective leadership requires an effective balance between providing clarity and commitment for accomplishing the tasks and demonstrating concern for people.

Example

An organization's leadership has established, through its traditional practices, a clear preference for developmental change, an internal manner of processing, and a very strong task-orientation for deciding. Members of the key senior leadership are aware of these preferences in style and are working to provide skills and develop structures and systems to allow for greater openness to exploratory styles, an increased focus on improving the level of communication, and on helping the organization become a better balanced and diverse place in which to work. There is an acknowledgement that this will take time, but given their style preferences they have a detailed plan to encourage innovation, have communicated it to all involved, and are working to establish a climate that supports creativity and innovation.

The need to respond effectively to change is at the forefront of organizational priorities in today's world. Pressure to cope with the increasing pace of change, degree of complexity, and sources of competition create mounting demands on the time and attention of those who lead and manage organizations. At a time when organizations need courageous thought, improved speed and agility, and the ability to be very close to those who make use of their products and services, many of those who are responsible for change efforts focus on obtaining short-term results, cutting costs. They risk losing their focus on the long-term viability of their organizations. One of the most important lessons to be learned from many change efforts is that these endeavors succeed or fail as a result of the people involved. Those who lead and manage change can benefit from an improved understanding and appreciation of the people-oriented dynamics of change. Producing change and implementing new strategies requires proactive and creative kinds of problem solving. Style of problem solving influences how we work as individuals, as a team, and how we approach others in our organization.

  • Your orientation to change influences the kind of results or outcomes you seek to achieve. Some prefer to produce more evolutionary change, while others seek revolutionary change, regardless of the requirement for a balance in most situations. Understanding your own preferences, and those of others, can help moderate natural preferences for particular approaches, and enable you to focus on pursuing an appropriate kind of change.

  • Knowing that you need to allow for differences in peoples' manner of processing can help you achieve the balance you need between fast action and well-thought out solutions.

  • Realizing that people have different ways of deciding can help you choose and apply process tools appropriately to ensure that both the task and people perspectives are carefully considered while making important decisions.

Example

The "continuous improvement" task force of one unit in a large organization worked on a problem relating to setting goals for their unit's operation for the next three years. Several members of the team suggested goals that included eliminating all printed memos, policies, and handbooks, and replacing them with an intranet solution that would be distributed and archived entirely in digital format. Other members reacted to that to that by dismissing it as impractical and unrealistic. They proposed that the major goal to be addressed should be develop more specific procedures for controlling use of the unit's library to reduce the number of resources that were frequently missing for extended periods of time without being checked out. The former group dismissed that proposal as trivial and of little consequence for the unit's overall improvement. After obtaining their VIEW results, discussing the differences among the task force members, and considering the value of respecting and building upon their style differences, the group developed new strategies for reviewing, analyzing, and discussing various proposals and suggestions. They also learned ways to use each other's strengths to "tame" some of their more unusual ideas to make them workable, and to expand the scope and originality of some of the narrower options, and to listen to each other's concerns and work to overcome them collaboratively.

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Center for Creative Learning, LLC
2015 Grant Place
Melbourne, Florida, 32901 USA
Email: info@creativelearning.com