Getting to Deep Applied Creativity

John Rogers - Founder RL Leaders

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In life, we often find ourselves dealing with challenges that can seem unsolvable. Clearly, some problems are beyond our comprehension, but many of the “too hard” challenges we face can be solved with something called a holistic approach, a key component in RL Leaders’ method of solving challenges. A holistic approach, simply put, means to step back and take a 360° view of a problem through new perspectives. Whether you’re facing a personal or professional challenge, this approach begins once an obstacle or challenge has been identified.

Once the need has been diagnosed, reevaluating the situation as a whole allows for things to be seen in a different, multidimensional way.  Patterns can be identified, implications can be better understood, and work begins to identify an insightful solution. Keeping in mind that every change made (small or big) will have an impact on the ‘big picture’. But, how do you know if a challenge is big enough to need a holistic approach?

At RLL we suggest starting by asking yourself a series of questions:

  • Is the problem you’re trying to solve a long-standing, stubborn challenge?

    • Have you been wrestling with this challenge for along time?

    • Is it merely a technical challenge?

      • Ex: It’s one thing to need your furnace repaired, it's another thing to design the future of furnaces using new forms of energy → a technical & innovative solution which requires more than just a technical perspective

  • Or, is the problem a multifaceted challenge that needs multiple perspectives and insights?

  • Examples:

    • What is the next big product to bring to market?

    • What potential industry disruptions do we face? What are the time constraints?

    • What meaningfully differentiates us from the competition?

    • How are competitors approaching the market?

    • What external technological or regulatory impacts will our industry face?

    • How will our adversaries next attack?

The common denominator is that these are all complex, multi-dimensional challenges that require deeper thought and different perspectives to come up with an effective and insightful solution.

Once the challenge has been identified as complex and stubborn, and the decision has been made to gain greater insight, the time has come to assemble a team. This is our mixed table approach called Deep Applied CreativityTM, a concept of putting people together, who wouldn’t ordinarily talk to one another, to sit down and collaboratively work through a problem.

After years of utilizing a mixed table approach my recommendation is to use three different types of people. All of whom bring important elements to the conversations. The first group of individuals is the subject matter experts. These are often (but not always) people you already know within the organization, team members, staff, or individuals who are incredibly knowledgeable about both your industry and organization.

The second group that we’ve found extraordinarily impactful are creative minds from the entertainment industry and art communities. These individuals are paid to think creatively about everything they do, and it’s for that reason that they are quite impactful. Using creative minds to look at a problem in a different light, how great would that be? And, not only do they approach problems with creativity, they also do their research. Just think about method actors and authors who fully dive into their work to create the best, most realistic outcomes.  

Finally, the third group of individuals that is key to a successful mixed table is thought leaders. Who do you know that has accomplished extraordinary things? Who has run a billion dollar campaign? Come up with a breakthrough? Is innovative and original? Tap into those people. Keeping in mind, everybody is creative and that doesn't mean a creative mind isn’t an expert or vice versa. Putting them in buckets helps you distinguish who you are looking at and what they can bring to the table.

Dealing with recalcitrant challenges requires skillful and qualified team collaboration, so now is the time to ask yourself, do you have the right team?

  • What additional perspectives might you gain knowledge from?

  • Who do you know who is creative and smart, and does great research?

    • The advantage of creatives is that they'll think outside the box in order to prompt and spur the discussion.

  • Who among your team (subject matter experts) do you need vs. want at the table?

    • Who in your organization lives, eats, and breathes the topic of discussion?

  • Who are the really smart, accomplished, doers in your life (brilliant thought leaders)?

  • Who can you work with to frame your objective so people are clear on what the goal is they’re trying to achieve?

  • Who is open to new forms of approaches to problem solving, and who isn’t?

    • If there is a naysayer who’ll kill the initiative, don’t invite them

Once there is an idea of what the team should look like, you may be asking yourself “then what?” Well, your team is just one (very important) component of a holistic approach. In order to maximize the experience, there need to be set objectives to guide discussions along. Here are some key considerations:

  • What’s the reading material/questions you want to raise with the group?

  • What is the ideal outcome you'd like to see

    • Solve problem

    • Resolve pain

    • Avoid disaster

    • Provide an idea of the future

    • Provide multiple Ideas

    • Executable plan

    • What's realistic

  • What time/resources can be devoted to this

    • You need AT LEAST two 3-4 hour sessions

  • What is the venue you want to host this at? Is it somewhere your team won’t face interruption?

With a team assembled, creative minds spark conversation. Coupled with our unique assembly of subject matter experts and brilliant thought leaders, insights and ideas begin to take shape. Combined, this all makes up Deep Applied Creativity ™. When implemented, critical challenges are analyzed and identified in a panel setting, insights are then refined leading to their manifestation into tools, resources, and products providing immense value and impact to your organization.

This multi-perspective, immersive approach to problem solving is key to everything we do and is the central component for RL Leaders using the model of Conceptualize / Visualize / Productize to manifest solutions for our most complex challenges. Allowing new perspectives and intellectual types to come together with the sole focus of identifying, designing, and executing solutions to those challenges is more important now than ever. Our world is constantly changing and everyday we face new, unimaginable obstacles, the ability to come together as one to solve our problems is what makes this job our passion.


RLL INSIGHTS are curated from our creative subject matter expert network and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of RL Leaders. In our continued effort to identify and assess the complex challenges of our time, we aim to curate divergent and innovative perspectives, aligning all lenses and disciplines from our remarkable network. We thank you for your readership and encourage you to share your own creative INSIGHTS with us.

RL Leaders