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How to love criticism and make the company more creative

Although much is said about the benefits of criticism, it is often this very word that bears a negative connotation. Dmitry Trepolsky explains how, by adapting the critical assessment method used in the creative field, companies can not only make criticism an effective tool for improvement, but also develop their creative potential.
Today, the concept of creativity is not associated solely with aesthetics. Rather, it is mandatory competence for each organization seeking to find new opportunities in the markets, introduce innovative approaches to business management and create breakthrough products. But everything that concerns creativity often causes great irritation.

The process of creation itself is disordered, sometimes chaotic, and creative people may be nervous with their excessive emotionality and eccentricity. In addition, conservative companies often have problems attracting creative individuals who are oppressed by a culture of rigid rules and well-defined processes.

Most companies find it difficult to create favorable conditions for creativity. And in this they can be helped by introducing a process of critical assessment. We are talking about the format of the meeting, which was originally used in the artistic field. This approach allows organizations to expand the space for creativity, better overcome the uncertainties that business problems cause, and develop innovative products.

How does the criticism work?

You present the artifact to the group, listen to critical comments and selectively incorporate them into its next version. More specifically, this process consists of the following steps:
A small group gathers in the room where the artifact is displayed (printed, mounted on the wall or projected onto the screen). An artifact can be a business plan, a graphical representation of an idea, a spreadsheet, a document with product requirements, and so on. The group itself must be small enough so that it is possible to approach the subject and consider all its details;
The authors of the work describe the artifact, while not providing justifications and not trying to convince others of the correctness of their choice. Their task is to objectively present their work to the audience so that its essence is clear;
Those present describe their perception of the product, articulate the problems clearly and propose solutions;
The authors do not defend their work and do not explain why they made these, and not other decisions. They answer questions and (if necessary) try to explain their meaning. In all other cases, the authors are silent and take notes;
After the discussion, the team of authors returns to work, selectively implementing changes based on feedback. Then the process is repeated again.
What is the use of criticism?

The critical assessment approach requires the creation of an artifact. This means that the team does not simply express its ideas in words, but presents them in a material form. At the same time, the artifact says: “I mean this, and not something else”, becoming the embodiment of a certain obligation and forcing the team to take a clear position.

A culture of criticism of this type provides a signal that it is absolutely normal to submit work in progress, the company recognizes: it takes time to formulate ideas, and you can bring them to a complete form through experimentation, which cannot always be successful. In this case, employees have the opportunity to experience different things, improving the development over and over again.

In order for the method of critical evaluation to work, the team must provide and accept criticism, which means that trust is established in relations between people. The idea may be criticized to the nines, but its authors come from a meeting inspired, feeling that they know how to improve the design.

Criticism is aimed at the artifact, and not at the person who is its creator. In this way, it helps to form the environment where cooperation is presiding. This approach to criticism shows that individuals have the freedom to choose: to accept criticisms or to ignore them. If the proposals are provided by someone who occupies a higher position, it does not mean anything, because the feedback is considered by the authors, and then they decide whether to take it into account.

How to incorporate the method of critical assessment to the corporate culture?

You can begin to introduce a creative approach to performing diverse tasks and instill a culture, part of which is criticism with a “positive charge”.

To do this, top managers must do the following:
Demonstrate the desired behavior by example;
When developing a strategy or performing other tasks, imagine it is done in an incomplete form, necessarily in the form of some kind of artifacts, and not just in words. Hold regular critical assessment sessions where you stick to the rule — protect your ideas when critical comments are provided.

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