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Introduction: Summary of the Main Points
The paper analyzes the article Structure in creativity: An Exploratory Study to analyze the Effects of Structuring Tools on Scenario Workshop Results written by Vliet, Kok, Veldkamp, and Sarkk. The authors have introduced scenarios by describing their purpose together with when they can be used. In this case, scenarios are simply models that can be used to simulate situations so that the future of different situations can be predicted and the outcome tackled.
As revealed in the article, scenarios are usually developed under different circumstances where they are meant to affect the situation they are being made to take care. The success o off a scenario depends on their application and integration style based on the real situation. Therefore, the researchers were trying to test the effectiveness of applying different scenarios in different situations.
According to the Vliet, Kok, Veldkamp, and Sarkk (2012), workshops offer an opportunity for different scenarios to be tested as a way of finding out if they can be effective on the ground. As they state, users of the models that have been developed for different purposes have to be convinced that the models they are being given will effectively tackle the problems in their domain and that they will not fail them.
The authors claim that when models are prepared, they might lead to discrepancies in the products that they are supposed to represent. Therefore, their credibility in the eyes of target users might be lowered. The article is purposed to test indicators for workshop results. To achieve this goal, the researchers used three locations as venues for conducting the tests. The researchers infer that there is very limited literature so far showing how creativity of products can be measured.
As a result, there is still so much to be done in this field. In analyzing the creativity of people, the researchers used three indicators because three context models that were also available for use are believed to have better effects. The researchers found out during the testing of tools at the workshop that the type of tools used had a great influence on the perception of the participants. In conclusion, the researchers reveal that creativity criteria can be developed for use in scenario workshop output and outcomes.
Analysis of the Authors’ Strengths and Weaknesses
The authors have come out in a strong way to present their arguments on their research findings by first giving a background layout to the whole issue under discussion. The researchers have started by explaining the purpose of using scenarios in life. This strategy lays the ground for them to bring forth their findings. In this case, the researchers explain that scenarios are used to capture different situations as they may happen in the future and that these models can be good predictors.
This laying out of the argument that necessitates the use of scenarios provides the basis for the whole research. The researchers explain why there is a need to have workable and acceptable models for use in scenario workshops. While commenting on the authors’ work, Enserink (2000) states, “This according to their argument is necessary for convincing stakeholders about the use of the scenarios being tested in real-life situations”.
The researchers explain why both structure and creativity are important for the quality of scenarios. The authors use this approach to convince the reader why they prefer the use of creativity rather than the use of structure. The claim is qualified by stating that structure and creativity conflict when they are used together although both are equally important. The strength of this argument is found in the researchers move not to discount the use of structure because both are workable.
Although the researchers indicate their preference for creativity by arguing that structure and creativity contradict each other at some point, they go ahead to indicate that structure is needed to enhance creativity. The researchers, however, do not explain how the two elements complement each other especially after stating that they conflict each other. This gap can be seen as a weakness on their argument.
The researchers present their reason for not using many contextual characteristics by explaining that the use of many such characteristics can easily complicate the delivery of the intended scenario. Thus, they used three contextual characteristics. They strengthen their argument by stating that the contextual characteristics used were easily available and effective at the same time.
The simple fact that is derived out of this argument is that the choice of contextual characteristics matters because users of these contexts may not have time and patience to pick on complicated models. Models should be simple and easily applicable. This claim, however, should not be used as the reason for making all models as simple as possible because some real-life situations are so complex and cannot be represented by simple models and Ebi and Gamble (2005) reveal.
The researchers further argue why a two-day workshop gives a better chance than a one-day workshop. This position is a weak argument because the success of a workshop depends wholly on the organization and facilitation of the whole workshop. A one-day workshop can achieve much success as long as the facilitator plans for the available time. At the end of the day, it is meant to demonstrate scenarios after which the participants can go ahead and practice what they have learned.
The authors have also employed the use of tables as a way of presenting their facts. Tables simplify the presentation of facts. From there, the reader is able to connect the notes and the tables. The researchers have emphasized the use of creativity that is mentioned together with structure. Creativity is a wide language to use. The researchers do not explain what creativity entails. Creativity comes at different levels.
In this case, they should have given a basis for gauging it because the levels of creativity should be tested at the end of the day. The researchers’ bias towards creativity has made all their arguments warp in favor of creativity. They state that the choice of structuring tools should not harm creativity too much in case a structured output is needed to facilitate a link between qualitative and quantitative scenarios.
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The weakness of the argument is found in the obsession with creativity that the researchers keep on talking about in the article. Structure works better than creativity in some areas. In such circumstances, the structure should not be made subordinate to creativity as Seyff et al. (2009) point out. On the other hand, creativity works better than the structure in other areas. These are the areas that the researchers should emphasize the use of creativity.
Too much creativity might drown the scenario being played out because the point might easily be lost in the effort of being creative. Creativity, in any case, should come second to structuring because it offers a cosmetic value to the scenario being created. The researchers give a positive and strong point concerning the size of the toolbox to be used. The researchers’ recommendation concerning the direct relationship between days and the size of the toolbox is logical because it will allow proper use of the available time.
Does the Article Make a Valuable Contribution?
The article makes a valuable contribution to science and art of strategy development and execution because it can be viewed as a further enhancement of scenario testing and workshop training management. The use of scenarios has become necessary in the modern world due to technological changes and widespread information sharing.
The invention of the internet has made it possible for individuals to access information from all over the world. Similarly, changes in situations can be studied all over the world in an instance. Frittaion, Duinker, and Grant (2011) point out how “certain situations can be predictable while others cannot be predicted and that both situations have a domino effect when they happen”. Therefore, it is important for scientists to develop strategies that can take care of these situations long before they can happen.
The right strategy is the one that is applicable, workable, and one that fits as a solution for a certain problem. Therefore, it is prudent for scientists to continue inventing and testing scenario situations. In this case, the researchers’ contribution has to be acknowledged because they are trying to define the importance of two factors during workshop training for scenario development tools.
The researchers, in this case, outline the different approaches that can be used in conducting scenario workshops together with the factors to be considered. They, therefore, make a great contribution by outlining the importance of both structure and creativity in scenario workshops. Each scientific contribution is important regardless of how small it maybe because it moves something from one level to the next from where another scientist may come and improve on it.
The researchers, in this case, have made findings that can be used to conduct scenario workshops better. They advise on the number of days that a good workshop should take besides indicating the number of scenarios that can be conducted over this period. Upon reading the article, the findings of the researchers are that the number of days for conducting a workshop should be at least two so that there is enough time to go through the different demonstrations.
They also indicate the size of the toolbox to be used when given a certain number of days to conduct the workshop. This goes a long way to enable persons wishing to conduct scenario workshops to plan properly for their time and tools to use. When one has been given just one day to conduct the workshop, the person should consider using a smaller toolbox so that all planned demonstrations can be conducted within the day.
The authors have highlighted the importance of creativity by giving it more weight when compared to the structure. Although both are important, creativity has been highlighted as more important due to its ability to impress the users of the scenarios. The most important thing about scenarios is that they are supposed to be convincing and workable to users. They should be able to give certain results when tested for validity because scenario situations are supposed to solve real-life situations.
Contrasting the Researchers’ Views
There seems to be very limited information to contrast what the researchers of this article have prepared with what other researchers have done. Most of the information found in this research has been collaborated heavily by the readings made by the researchers on other works done by other researchers. Alcamo and Rothman (2004) employ a different approach towards scenario workshops by stating that dialogue should be the central theme in scenario workshop projects.
This position is different from what the researchers of the article have emphasized creativity. Although creativity should be viewed as something important, it is given a secondary position by Alcamo because the dialogue is the most important thing in all workshops, especially those that deal with training.
Dialogue enables participants to exchange information between them to come out with a better understanding of the scenarios being explained. Dialogue too gives the participants a better understanding of the scenarios that the workshop is projecting. This enables the participants to understand it better and stand a chance to apply the same to their situations.
On the other hand, Akoumanakis and Stephanidis (2003) employ a very different approach to what the researchers of this article have used. The authors advocate for the use of technology to create interfaces during the presentation. This approach is different from what the researchers of the article had come up with, which is the use of cards and other hardcopy materials. The modern-day presentations require the use of technology because it simplifies any form of a presentation by showing sequences better and faster.
Presentation modes such as Prezi and PowerPoint provide better tools for conducting a workshop. Group members can also use them easily on their own. Computer presentations allow users to copy the presentations and carry with them in softcopy easily. This can be done through human-computer interaction. Enserink (2000) has a different view from the researchers of the article by stating that time may not count as much as a factor as long as the workshop is objective-based (574).
Short intensive workshops can achieve much more than long workshops without proper objectives and organization. The most important thing in conducting a workshop is the management of time and delivery of the intended objectives. Scenarios are used to develop a forecasting platform that can be used by an organization to forecast what is going to happen in the future. Therefore, finding differences in their purposes or approach can be difficult because they tend to work towards the same goals.
In many cases, scenarios borrow from one another because they work towards the same purpose. However, differences may exist on the side of the approaches that are being employed to come up with the best scenarios. Workshops are just forums for discussing scenarios with different parties. Thus, they may not look the same allover although they have a purpose in bringing stakeholders in the same room and selling them the idea of the scenario being created.
In this case, the researchers have dwelt in a very narrow viewpoint of creativity and structure, which might be an area that has not been dwelt upon by other writers. It, therefore, makes it difficult to find contradictory articles that can be used directly to engage in this paper. Although the scenario workshop project is a wide topic, most of the work done on it develops what has already been done.
Scenario and Foresight Thinking as Valuable Tools
Scenarios and related tools are valuable in the day-to-day life that is more proactive than being reactive. The need to avert dangerous and loss-making situations has made people and organizations develop scenarios that can enable them to survive for long in the business that they are doing. History indicates that forecasting measures are necessary for averting situations that are beyond human control. Without doing so, extinction takes place.
The need to keep businesses running and remaining profitable has made businesses invest so much in forecasting techniques because they may easily end if they fail to consider taking such measures. Different organizations have different mandates. With this, they all have their functions varying from one organization to the other. A situation in one organization can easily affect the next organization depending on how organizations are interrelated.
Therefore, it is prudent for such organizations to try to anticipate different situations to come up with solutions before the situations happen. Previously, many companies have folded due to lack of this foresight. This happened with the introduction of technological changes in their fields. Because they had never anticipated the new trends, most of their work and products became obsolete within a short time, hence acting as a lesson for other entities to learn.
Other than businesses and organizations’ survival, scenario situations can be used to control, avert, or manage disaster situations. Governments of the day too can use scenario situations to manage economic situations by balancing the sectors of the economy as per the predictions. This strategy is a safe way to handle situations before they happen. It can be described as a perfect cost-saving measure.
Would I Value these Ideas as a CEO?
If I were a chief executive officer of a corporation, I would value what the researchers have said about scenario workshops. Scenario workshops are suited for people doing research. As an executive officer, I would prefer making use of an already-tested model, which has been fine-tuned and found workable.
Scenario projects are good for all organizations. I would employ their use because they act as a lifesaver to the organization in case the future changes. We all live in the fear of the unknown future. Ignoring this fear can be perilous to our existence. Therefore, taking precaution can be described as the least expensive path for any organization to take rather than counting damage when it occurs.
As a chief executive officer, I would engage the services of risk consultants who are experts in this field of scenario projects to give an up-to-date and continuous report on scenarios in relation to the changing environment of doing business. Scenario projects’ ideas are valuable to any individual who wants to plan for the long term because they give a glimpse of what one is supposed to meet in the coming future.
Organizations build their profiles for the sake of the future because they are not a one-day shop. Therefore, it is important to develop a successful future than to develop a future that will fail. Applying the use of models has to be in accordance with the relevance that the model will have on the organization. Some theoretical values that models project can be right or wrong. Therefore, it is the duty of the chief executive officer to make sure that these values are true and workable in the interest of the organization.
Therefore, as the boss, I will endeavor to pick and use what is necessary and leave out what is dispensable because different scientists try out different models for the sake of finding out if they are workable.
Choosing the best model can be a challenge too, but should not be viewed as an impossibility. As the chief executive officer, it would also be prudent to develop an in-house scenario project that fit the description of the organization I am leading because in-house ideas have the advantage of having the knowledge of the inside workings of the organization.
Thus, they can rarely go wrong. Research and development can be one area that would complement the purpose of scenario development because the organization will be up to date with the changes that happen around it together with solutions to take care of the changes. It is one thing to forecast and know how the future will appear and that it is another thing to come up with solutions for the same.
Thus, as the chief executive officer, I would go ahead and form a research and development team that would be mandated to come up with fallback positions in case a situation happens. Scenario projects are important since they have increasingly played a major role in the survival of organizations, thus making it necessary to employ them in the day-to-day running of the organizations.
Akoumianakis, Demosthenes, and Constantine Stephanidis. “Blending Scenarios of use and Informal Argumentation to facilitate universal Access: Experience with the universal Access Assessment Workshop Method.” Behavior and Information Technology 22, no. 4(2003): 227-244.
Alcamo, Joseph, and Dale Rothman. Introduction to Scenario Analysis. TIAS Summer School. Germany: Osnabruck, 2004.
Ebi, Kristie, and Janet Gamble. “Summary of a Workshop on the Development of Health Models & Scenarios: Strategies for the Future.” Environmental Health Perspectives 113, no. 3(2005): 335-338.
Enserink, Bert. “Building Scenarios for University.” International Transactions in Operational Research 7, no. 2(2000): 569-583.
Frittaion, Cristiana, Peter Duinker, and Jill Grant. “Suspending Belief: Influencing Engagement in Scenarios of Forest Futures.” Technological Forecasting and Social Change 78, no. 3(2011): 421-430.
Seyff, Norbert, Neil Maiden, and Kristine Karlsen et al. “Exploring How to use Scenarios to Discover Requirements.” Requirements Engineering 14, no. 1(2009): 91-111.
Vliet, Mathijs, Kasper Kok, Andrew Veldkamp, and Simo Sarkk. “Structure in creativity: An Exploratory Study to analyze the Effects of Structuring Tools on Scenario Workshop Results.” Futures 44, no. 1(2012): 746-763.