Team creativity is a key factor in being active and powerful in a competitive environment as well as in finding alternative and innovative ways to solve problems. Therefore, finding ways to promote team creativity has always been a crucial topic for scholars and managers.

Used periodically, the crash course helps to understand creativity to develop and soft skills to improve at the team level.

The chapter defines the crash course analysing:

  1. soft skills for work life at the team level with a focus on creativity, and including definitions of the skills. It start examining the different team creativity definitions, and then underlining the five most relevant soft skills chosen;
  2. the role of competencies and skills in current and future labour markets considering the aims and goals of education and the role of universities;
  3. the learning objectives listed, the structure, learning methods, and course delivery of the crash course.
  4. the design of an indicative lesson plan based on the five team level exercises of creative techniques analysed and on two evaluation sessions using InnCREA audit tool.
  5. the importance of InnCREA audit tool which can be used at the beginning and at the end of the course. This is a short and easy way to understand which are the soft skill to improve;
  6. the importance of soft skills required for business and work life providing a framework of soft skill.
  7. the teaching strategies to be adopted on preparing students to work life.

Technical information for the chapter

Team creativity involves the production, conceptualization, or development of novel and useful ideas, processes, or procedures by a team of individuals working together. Team creativity is also the creation of valuable, useful new products, services, ideas, procedures, or processes by individuals working together in a complex social system. This can occur informally or in structured teams such as work teams. Teams composed of members from different cultures and disciplines are quite often used at the workplace. These teams present potentials for creativity due to the possibility of integrating diverse perspectives, knowledge, skills, and abilities, and this diversity can stimulate creative thinking and prevent groups from moving prematurely to consensus on complex issues. However, diversity also poses possible risks, such as relational conflicts, negative emotionality, stress, or the possibility of “groupthink”, which hampers group cohesiveness and paralyzes team performance.

Teams are special types of groups where people work with commitment, shared responsibilities and complementary skills to achieve shared outcomes and common goals.

To improve team creativity it’s necessary that each team members learn and develop soft skills using particular techniques.

For team creativity the most relevant soft skills to develop are:

  • Communication – Ability to express an opinion; discussion skills.
  • Collaboration – Collaborative problem-solving; teamwork; cooperation.
  • Leadership – Ability of an individual to encourage strategic thinking, innovation, and action, and to guide other members of an organization to achieve a common goal.
  • Negotiating skill – Qualities that allow two or more parties to reach a compromise. These are often soft skills such as communication, persuasion, planning, strategizing and cooperating.
  • Problem solving – Conflict resolution, systematic approach, logical goal-oriented thinking, creativity.

Many professional reports demonstrate how much of a gap exists between the soft skills the modern employee possesses and that which their employers require in the modern workplace.

Both hard and soft skills are important to consider when making hiring determinations and deciding who earns leadership roles and promotions. Recruiting professionals believe an employee with stronger soft skills has a better chance of being promoted to a leadership position than an employee with more years of experience but weaker soft skills. Also, failing to show soft skills at a job interview can cost you the job.

Many people are adequate with some skills yet struggle with others. For instance, an employee may have excellent communication and teamwork abilities but struggle with time management or struggle under pressure.

Defined by the American Management Association as the Four C’s — creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking — soft skills are central in the performance of an organization and are the transformative skills necessary for innovation to take root and grow inside the organization itself.

The soft skills listed in the above paragraph are critical components for a student facing a labour market and are relevant elements for building a successful career, from the first interview through retirement.

Currently, the European Union has launched a comprehensive project on the classification and assessment of competencies across sectors within the European Union (ESCO – European Skills/Competences, Qualifications and Occupations, 2016). This project aims on creating distinct classifications of job specific skills and soft skills, competences, qualifications and occupations in all fields and working occupations, relevant for the EU labour market.

Efforts to define skills and competencies have also led to discussions on the aims and goals of education and the role of universities.

Many universities focus on hard skills. While it is certainly important to improve these skills, it is crucial to prepare students to be creative and innovative professionals by emphasizing the importance of soft skills in all of university courses. Traditional problems and solutions taught in business school often do not mimic what students will actually encounter in the workplace, and for that reason, skilled faculty and practitioners know how to offer first-hand experience and insight into why soft skills are needed.

EU countries have different methodologies and approaches to the teaching and assessment of soft skills. There are some collections of best practices and methods for teaching and learning them at university level. Despite their obvious importance, institution/programme changes are seldom given attention when analysing HE-to-work transitions and graduate employability: thus, there is a lack of comparative studies and statistics.

Benefits for academic staff:

  • openness,
  • increased innovation,
  • developing discussion skills,
  • constructive discussions about developing creativity,
  • the ability to motivate and mentor student groups,
  • the capability to be analytical and attentive to details
  • making connections between increased subjects,
  • going beyond the usual schemes.

Benefits for students:

  • collaboration,
  • engaging in the idea creation process,
  • developing the ability to express an opinion,
  • problem solving skills,
  • discussion skills,
  • building tolerance of uncertainty,
  • creative idea into collective creativity,
  • critical thinking,
  • creative thinking.
  1. Introduce creativity and pioneering innovation at team level
  2. Use the innCREA audit tool to evaluate the creative skill level of students
  3. Introduce the five techniques and implement related exercises to students
  4. Use the innCREA audit tool to re-evaluate the creative skill level of students after the course

Most universities use multiple delivery methods, because a single modality may be non-functional:

  • Classroom training – is the most traditional form of training most effective when you need to provide a relatively small amount of information, in a short period and you need learner interactivity,
  • Virtual classrooms through E-learning and Mobile Learning – enable universities to deliver training in the form of text, video and documents in real time and learners can attend the session from wherever they are located, saving valuable time and money on logistics and venues. Those are good options for universities allowing flexible learning opportunities in a short time frame.
  • Blended learning – a combination of approaches, ensuring that every learner retains information.

The training delivery method chosen is influenced by several factors such as budget, organisation, location, time frame, and goals.

The course will be provided:
●  in classroom
●  blended mode

This delivery mode helps the group members to discuss and interact with each other avoiding distances and barriers.In any case the course must include initial and final audit tool monitoring.

Lesson plan

1Introduction to topic and assessment with audit tool

PPT – Slides
10 min.09:00–09:10
2Initial evaluation session to assess starting baseline levels of creativity5 min.09:10-09:15
3.1Introduction to technique # 1 – Do Nothing10 min.09:15-09:25
3.2Exercise 1
1. use of a sheet of paper/dashboard and stickers
to write ideas or a collaborative diagramming
tool (Mural, Realtime board)
2. students divided in groups of three students
3. may be completed in class or as homework
10 min.09:25-09:35
3.3Inter-group discussion5 min.09:35–09:40
4.1Introduction to technique # 2 – LOESJE10 min.09:40 –09:50
4.2Exercise 2
1. a sheet of paper to write ideas or a collaborative
diagramming tool (Mural, Realtime board, …)
2. students divided in groups of 5-10 students each
3. may be completed in class or as homework
15 min.09:50–10:05
4.3Inter-group discussion5 min.10:05–10:10
BREAK[15 min.]10:10–10:25
5.1Introduction to technique # 3 – Lotus Blossom10 min.10:25–10:35
5.2Exercise 3
1. a sheet of paper to draw the scheme and
stickers to write ideas in the petals or a collaborative diagramming tool (Mural, Realtime board)
2. students divided in groups of no more than 5 students each with different mind-sets and thoughts
3. central lotus blossom may be completed in class and sub ideas lotus blossom as homework
15 min.10:35–10:50
5.3Inter-group discussion5 min.10:50–10:55
6.1Introduction to technique # 4 – Swot Analysis10 min.10:55–11:05
6.2Exercise 4
1. a sheet of paper/dashboard to draw the diagram
and stickers to write ideas or a collaborative
diagramming tool (Mural, Realtime board)
2. students divided in groups of 5-7 students each
3. may be completed in class or as homework
10 min.11:05–11:15
6.3Inter-group discussion5 min.11:15–11:20
7.1Introduction to technique # 5 – False rule10 min.11:20–11:30
7.2Exercise 5
1. a sheet of paper/dashboard and stickers to write
ideas or a collaborative diagramming tool (Mural,
Realtime board)
2. students divided in groups of 5-7 students each
3. may be completed in class or as homework
10 min.11:30–11:40
7.3Inter-group discussion5 min.11:40–11:45
8Final evaluation session15 min.11:45–12:00
TOTAL:180 min.3 hrs 0 mins

Learning content for the chapter

The crash course provides the following 5 creativity techniques,
●  Do Nothing
●  Loesje
●  Lotus Blossom
●  SWOT Analysis
●  False rule

These techniques enhance team creativity and soft skills. In particular:
●  Communication (Loetsje, Lotus Blossom, SWOT, False rule)
●  Collaboration (Loetsje, Lotus Blossom, False rule, Do Nothing)
●  Leadership (SWOT, False rule)
●  Negotiating skill (Loetsje, Lotus Blossom, SWOT)
●  Problem solving (Loetsje, Lotus Blossom, SWOT, False rule, Do Nothing)

At the beginning of the course, it is planned to measure the students’ creativity level through the InnCREA audit tool. This aims to recommend students to focus more on developing the soft skills in which they are most weak. Therefore, the final audit tool will allow students to check their progress.

Soft skills have always been important in business, but in the last few years it has become clear just how much more important they have become to the changing needs of the workplace.

Techniques should be incorporated within university courses so that students can grow their soft skills and in particular their creativity. In addition, in order to prepare them for the working life where these techniques are used. These classes should be prepared and well regulated by teachers and must be propedeutical to the workshops in which students are encouraged to apply them. It is important that teachers create a positive environment in which students collaborate with each other.

A relevant role is certainly played by crash courses that allow students to assess their current soft skill level and subsequently improve it by attending specific courses. To improve, it is important to understand the skill gaps within specific teams, and down to the individual student. In this way, it is possible to tailor ongoing training to close the skill for the working life gaps.

A. How to update teaching strategies

●  One broad recommendation that will bring teaching, business, and work life together is to construct programs that will benefit all the players, especially the students. In order to create the link needed to connect the workforce and the classroom, teachers, business owners, and entrepreneurs must get involved in work-based learning program design and delivery.
●  Teachers should integrate active learning methods in teaching practices that can support curriculum innovation and improve the learning experience of university students while learning disciplinary subjects.
●  Teachers comprehensively support students while they develop soft and digital soft skills.
●  Teachers should engage positively and effectively with students, giving them time to think about soft skills that seldom are not so comprehensible to them.
●  Teacher must encourage students to develop their full potential, making them work in team and involving them in useful discussion to enhance problem solving, leadership, and team negotiating skills

B. How to adjust the levels of the techniques, make them more impactful.

●  Set clear and achievable objectives
●  Use case studies and exercises to clarify how technique works
●  Invite experienced testimonials to present concrete work life examples
●  Use exciting and stimulating group logic game, to activate motivation and stimulate the acquisition of a certain behaviour, as team building, conflict management, and roles and responsibilities.

1. Do Nothing

Creative technique, that works by investigating what would happen to a problem doing
nothingand by determining, what the outcome would be if nothing were done.

2. Loesje

Technique based on playing with words, which allows one to go beyond the usual language patterns and effectively activate creative thinking.

3. Lotus Blossom

Creative and lateral thinking technique, used as a brainstorming tool, for which is used as a visual representation of an idea.

4. SWOT Analysis

Technique for assessing the four aspects – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats – of a business. Each of these factors needs to be carefully examined to plan the growth of the organization.

5. False rule

Provocation technique that uses the free association process our mind triggers trying to connect a problem situation with a rule that has no connection with it.

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