Cultivating Creativity: Get Out of Your Own Way

Via Texas Enterprise
by Tracy Mueller

Whether you’re a filmmaker or a financial advisor, some part of your job likely requires creative thinking and problem solving. Maybe you’re not trying to produce the next great action comedy, but managing a team, wooing new clients or finding fresh resources within a dwindling budget often calls for an inspired idea.

The trouble is, a lot can get in the way of thinking creatively. Social convention, established best practices, a pressure to perform. Even past success.

“Sometimes the barriers we face are from our past solutions,” says Gaylen Paulson, associate dean of Texas Executive Education and co-teacher of the class “Maximizing Mental Agility to Improve Creativity” (part of Texas Executive Education’s new Innovation Certificate).

In other words, when we experience success with a particular approach, it’s in our nature to return to that well with each new challenge. But that is a stagnant strategy that overlooks how the problem may be different, and it might prevent a new, better idea from developing.

He adds that sometimes—in an attempt at efficiency—our brains actually get in the way of more advanced thinking.

“Our brain is really good at seeing patterns and organizing things into manageable chunks,” Paulson explained during a McCombs Knowledge To Go webinar on the subject last year. “It does it automatically. But sometimes that restricts our solutions.”

So how can we guide our brains toward more imaginative problem solving?

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Don’t miss: Knowledge to Go Webinar featuring Ethan Burris – August 21st

Don’t miss this month’s Knowledge to Go Webinar, featuring Executive Education’s Ethan Burris. He will focus on the topic of Innovation in the workplace. The webinar will take place on Tuesday, August 21 at noon – 1 pm. Dr. Burris will  also be teaching a new Executive Education course Leading Innovation within Existing Organizations this fall.

How to Capture Innovative Ideas (from Your Employees)
The pursuit and capture of innovation is challenging to say the least.  Employees must be invested enough to spend the time and effort to contribute their ideas.  Further, there are no guarantees that anything will be done once employees give their suggestions.  Once an organization develops a way to solicit employee ideas, executives may find it challenging to sift through them all and arrive at a set of strategic actions to which many constituencies agree and buy in.  Selecting the ideas that offer the most value, are feasible to implement and align stakeholder commitment is similarly daunting for senior leaders.  This webinar will focus on how organizations can foster an environment that encourages employees to speak up with ideas and develop a process for evaluating and prioritizing ideas once they are on the table.

To register, visit the Knowledge to Go page.

New Innovation Certificate Available for Fall 2012

Executive Education is proud to announce the new Innovation Certificate Program. The Innovation classes are launching the Fall of 2012. The Innovation Certificate focuses on strategies for business leaders to develop and foster innovative thinking to successfully create services or products to better meet and exceed your customers’ expectations. You will leave with tools and techniques to enable your organization and team to innovate and execute successfully.

Core Courses

Leading Innovation within Existing OrganizationsMaximizing Mental Agility to Improve CreativityStrategic and Business Model Innovation


*1 day classes are offered through the Human Dimensions of Organizations (HDO) programs. For more information, visit the Human Dimensions of Organizations (HDO) site

For more information, visit:

Texas Executive Education summer sale!

Texas Executive Education is having a summer sale! For a limited time, you can enroll in our summer programs and receive a 20% discount.

Leading Change
July 10 – 11, 2012
In today’s competitive world, the ability of a firm to quickly adapt to changing competitive conditions is a very important predictor of success. This program focuses on providing solutions to these organizational challenges:
What can you and your organization do to create a culture that is change-enabled?
What skills are essential to lead and manage your team where change is the constant?
• Discard your fear of change and embrace new opportunities for growth
• Learn how to recognize when changes are needed
• Capitalize on your leadership skills to implement changes

Strategic Management
August 7-8, 2012
This program offers a solid foundation in strategic thinking and strategic analysis as it is practiced. It prepares you to think and analyze strategically and enhances your ability to set strategic objectives.
• Learn how the various tools and techniques of strategic analysis are employed
• Enhance strategic capabilities of your staff and line managers
• Recognize the economic forces that underlie successful strategic actions

Register by July 3rd, 2012 to receive a 20% percent discount! A savings of $490! To register, contact (800) 409-3932 (EXEC) or and mention “Summer12” to receive this discount.

Texas Executive Education gives you access to top-ranked faculty at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business and an opportunity to interact with colleagues.
You will come away with fresh ideas and innovative plans, based on university research and real-world application.

Certificates Rise to 22% of Postsecondary Credentials Awarded, Report Says

Originally posted from The Chronicle of Higher Education
By Jennifer González

Certificates are the fastest growing form of postsecondary credentials in the nation, surpassing associate and master’s degrees as the second most common award in higher education after the B.A., according to a report released on Wednesday by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

Postsecondary certificates made up 22 percent of awarded credentials in 2010, compared with just 6 percent in 1980. Over that time, the number of certificates awarded annually has increased from 100,000 to one million. Their appeal is growing because they are affordable, take less than a year to complete, and often lead to higher earnings, compared with receiving an associate and sometimes even a bachelor’s degree, the report says.

The most common occupations of certificate holders are business/office work, transportation, health care, and metal working, the report says.

The authors of the report, “Certificates: Gateway to Gainful Employment and College Degrees,” also found that certificates are often not counted in government statistics, despite their growth. If they were included in those figures, “the United States would move from 15th to 10th in the international rankings of postsecondary attainment,” the report says.

Earning a certificate is often a catalyst toward earning a college degree, the report says. One-third of certificate holders also possess an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree. Two out of three of those individuals earned their certificate first, the report says, while one in three earned a degree first.

To read more, click here.