OWIT Lake Geneva has a focus on innovation

OWIT_26Nov15Maureen and Cristina have once again been busy spreading the word about the concept of Coaching for Innovation. At the invitation of The Lake Geneva (Switzerland) chapter of the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT Lake Geneva), they facilitated two interactive and lively evening workshops with a focus on innovation.

Part I (held on 29th September) looked at how each of us can become an innovation catalyst by stepping into the role of an informal coach, holding coaching conversations aimed at generating multiple options. By completing the Innovator Behaviours Questionnaire, those present at the event were also able to reflect on their own strengths and grey areas when it comes to innovation. The good news for everyone is that innovators do not have to be born. The typical innovator behaviors – such as curiosity and associative thinking – can all be learned, strengthened and developed.  Indeed, some of the key innovator behaviors – the ability to ask powerful questions of yourself and others and mindful listening – also overlap strongly with typical coaching behaviors. Participants at the event had the opportunity to try out the CMO (Coaching for Multiple Options) Model for themselves and to experiment with the kind of powerful questions that are a force for creativity and idea generation.

Maureen_26Nov15Part II (held on 26th November) was about how to make  innovation happen and the crucial importance of harnessing the power of divergent thinking. Research shows that the creative tension sometimes generated when diverse people with different views and perspectives come together is likely to result in more and better ideas. Managing this process in the workplace however, can sometimes be a challenge. There was some interesting discussion about the kind of pre-conditions that need to be put securely in place when a group is tasked with generating ideas and multiple options together. Top of the list for most was the need to set expectations agreed by all about how the  group should behave and communicate with each other. For example, there should be mutual respect and everyone should be encouraged to contribute their ideas without fear of being criticised or judged. The motivation to participate in the creative process was also seen as important. Maureen and Cristina pointed out that not everyone is ready or willing to participate in a creative team session straight away. You might need to prepare the ground for it, highlight the benefits of doing it and clearly explain the process you will go through all together. When the team or group is ready, then using a process such as the one employed by the  Crea8.s Model will certainly make things easier for you.

Troubleshooting tips to manage a creative team session brought the two sessions to a close. Typical problem scenarios could include: people who are reluctant to speak up for some reason; at the other end of the scale, one or two people might hog the spotlight and not let others get a word in; there could even be heated discussion and open conflict. Thankfully there are some Golden Rules that can help – good facilitation skills, a clear set of behavioral guidelines combined with staying in coaching mode  all play their part in pointing the way to WIN-WIN solutions.

To browse and download useful free resources such as the Crea8.s Model for running a creative team session or the CMO Model for generating multiple options, please go to our  Members Only Area.

We would love to hear from you about any challenges that you have mastered when it comes to harnessing the power of divergent thinking to foster creativity and innovation. Equally, if you have a current challenge that needs resolving, perhaps we can share some of our own tips with you and other readers of our blog.


OWIT Lake Geneva connects international professional women and men across industries and trades in the Lake Geneva region.  The members represent a diverse spectrum of nationalities, cultures and skills. Whether they work for a multinational corporation, an international or intergovernmental organization, a non-profit, a small or medium sized enterprise or own their business, they all share a common interest in expanding their professional networks, sharing ideas and best practices as well as continuing their personal and professional development.