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How to love criticism and make your company more creative

Although there is a lot of talk about the benefits of criticism, it is often this word that carries a negative connotation. Dmitry Trepolsky explains how companies can not only make criticism an effective tool for improvement, but also develop their creative potential by adapting the method of critical evaluation used in the creative sphere
Today, the concept of creativity is not associated exclusively with aesthetics. This is rather a mandatory competence for every organization that seeks to find new opportunities in the markets, implement innovative approaches to business management and create breakthrough products. But everything that concerns creativity often causes great irritation.

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

It is quite difficult for most companies to create a creative environment. And this can be helped by the introduction of a critical assessment process. We are talking about the format of the meeting, which is initially used in the art sphere. This approach allows organizations to expand the space for creativity, better overcome the uncertainty that business problems create, and develop innovative products.

How does criticism work?

You present an 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 a room where an artifact is displayed (printed, mounted on a wall, or projected on a 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 should be small enough to be able to approach the subject and consider all its details;
The authors of the work describe the artifact, while not providing justification and not trying to convince others of the correctness of their choice. Their task is to present their work objectively to the audience so that its essence is clear;
Participants describe their perception of the product, clearly formulate problems and offer 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 make notes;
After the discussion is over, 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 evaluation approach requires creating an artifact. This means that the team does not just Express their ideas in words, but presents them in a material form. In this case, the artifact says: “I mean this, not something else”, becoming the embodiment of a certain obligation and forcing the team to take a clear position.

The culture of criticism of this type provides a signal that it is absolutely normal to present a work in progress, the company recognizes that it takes time to formulate ideas, and you can bring them to a complete form by experimenting, which can not 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 critical evaluation method to work, the team must provide and accept criticism, which means that trust has been established in the relationship between people. The idea may be criticized to the nines, but its authors go from the meeting elated, feeling that they know how to improve the development.

Criticism is directed at the artifact, not at the person who created it. In this way, it helps to create an environment where cooperation presides. This approach to criticism shows that individuals have the freedom to choose whether to accept or ignore criticisms. If offers are provided by someone who holds 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 critical assessment method to the corporate culture?

You can start implementing a creative approach to performing different types of tasks and instill a culture that includes criticism with a “positive charge”.

To do this, top-level managers must do the following:
Demonstrate the desired behavior on your own example;
When developing a strategy or performing other tasks, imagine what you have done in an incomplete form, always in the form of some artifacts, and not just in words. Conduct regular critical assessment sessions where you will adhere to the rule-protect your ideas when critical comments are provided;
Encourage managers in “non-creative” areas (operations, project management, or Finance) to conduct similar activities in their departments. Explain to people that everyone should function in the creative space, not just developers and designers, and creativity is the “Foundation” of the whole company;
Publicly recognize the value of not so much” refined ” developments, but first of all those that go through stages of improvement. In this way, you show that the company encourages the generation of ideas and that the process is no less important than the result.
It is important to always remember that criticism is one of the most important aspects of the creative process. By implementing the critical evaluation method in your company, you will see that teams will go through iterations faster, collaborate more closely, and create innovative solutions to complex problems more often.

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