Criteria to Help Evaluate Creative Ideas

Using creativity in the workplace

©Leslie Owen Wilson

Schools are institutions and as such are generally inhabited by people with very conventional values, and mindsets. Most educators are by nature cautious and not folks prone to risk taking adventures. They may be reluctant to jump into utilizing solutions to problems that deviate from tradition. As a result there may be barriers to positive changes in schools, and many of these barriers may have to do with simply overcoming historic institutional mindsets. Other highly rigid institutions follow suit.

In this context it is important to remember that other parts of the real world are accelerating and changing very quickly. Humans are infinitely adaptable. But in the world of work and business, especially in large international institutions, much of the assessment of creative proposals and new ideas concerns applicability, usability, practicality, and cost of implementation.

While these are not the warmest, most aesthetic or receptive criteria for creative production, if you know these barriers exist, then you can be prepared to address them. And in that preparation it might be helpful to use the following questions to assess the value of your ideas or solutions so that you can anticipate barriers and objections to your plan, product, or implementation suggestion. Weigh both the positives and the negatives, anticipate objections or questions, prepare responses, and then “go for it.”

Many of the questions below can be used as reflective criteria and can be adapted to use with students too — for instance in problem solving, in hypothetical discussions of solutions to world or local issues, or as a way to sift through the results of a brainstorming session.

Questions that help evaluate creative ideas:light on head

1. Does it prevent waste/conserve materials?

2. Will it bring about desired improvement or results?

3. Will it be generally acceptable to most of your colleagues, to the administration, or to parents or students? Or will you have to do some ground work in order to change minds before you get approval?

4. Is it easy to understand/explain? Or, will you need to create some sort of visual schema or a useful metaphor to explain your idea to others?

5. Is it an improvement over what is presently done or used?

6. Is it financially feasible? If so, what are the sources for the revenue?

7. Is it workable/practical? Or will there be a period of anticipated adjustment? If there is an adjustment to be made, do you have an additional plan for that?

8. Is it only “cosmetic” and a “cover up” of the problem, or will it correct the difficulty or issue of concern at a deeper level?

9. Will it have short-term or lasting effects?

10. Will it cause a minimum of disruption? If it will cause disruption, can you make plans to work around that, or make plans to minimize the inconvenience to others?

11. Is it ethically sound?

12. Will it produce results in the future? Can you project when results might be forthcoming?

13. Is it compatible with existing knowledge/technology?

14. Will there be administrative backlash?

15. Will it move things in the direction of a solution or into a future plan?

16. Will it take others to implement? How can you best mobilize those persons involved?

17. Is it a panacea for all problems, or does it just solve limited problems?

18. Is it simply a deterrent instead of a cure?

19. How much talent, time and money will it require, and is that feasible within the current or projected budget?

20. Does it have potential for sustained success or positive change?

21. Will this solution be practical and solve issues, or will it generate more problems than it solves?

(Adapted, revised and expanded from an older worksheet¬†— original source unknown)

One of the things about creativity is ideas often take form while brainstorming, or ideating with others. I call it “mental spritzing“– this is when ideas collide mid-air and bounce and grow off of one another.

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