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How to love criticism and make the company more creative

Although much is said about the benefits of criticism, often this very word carries 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 exclusively with aesthetics. Rather, it is mandatory competency for each organization seeking to find new opportunities in the markets, introduce innovative approaches to business management and create breakthrough products. But everything related to creativity often causes great irritation.

The creation process itself is disordered, sometimes chaotic, and creative people can 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 strict rules and clearly defined processes.

Most companies find it difficult to create creative conditions. And in this they can help the implementation of the critical assessment process. 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 insecurity posed by business problems, and develop innovative products.

How does criticism work?

You present an artifact to the group, listen to criticisms, 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 designed on the screen). An artifact can be a business plan, a graphical representation of an idea, a spreadsheet, a document with product requirements, and the like. 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 a rationale 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 understood;
Those present describe their perceptions of the product, articulate problems 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 clarify their meaning. In all other cases, the authors are silent and take notes;
After the discussion, the team of authors returns to work, selectively introducing changes based on feedback. Then the process repeats 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 state their ideas in words, but presents them in material form. At the same time, the artifact says: “I mean exactly this, and not something else”, becoming the embodiment of a certain commitment 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 represent unfinished work, the company recognizes that it takes time to formulate ideas, and it is possible to bring them to a complete form through experimentation, which cannot always be successful. In this case, employees have the opportunity to experience different things, over and over again improving the development.

For the critical assessment method to work, the team must provide and accept criticism, which means that trust has been established in the relations between people. An idea can be criticized to the smithereens, but its authors are inspired by the meeting, feeling that they know how to improve the development.

Criticism is directed at the artifact, and not at the person who is its creator. In this way, it helps create an environment where cooperation is presiding. This approach to criticism shows that individuals have the freedom to choose: accept criticisms or ignore them. If the proposals are submitted by someone who holds a higher position, this 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 a critical assessment approach to corporate culture?

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

To do this, top-level managers must do the following:
Demonstrate desired behavior using your own example;
When developing a strategy or performing other tasks, imagine what was done incomplete, always in the form of some kind of artifacts, and not just in words. Conduct regular critical assessment sessions where you will follow the rule – defend your ideas when criticisms are provided;

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