Understanding the role of value-focused thinking in idea management

Creativity and Innovation Management 20 (3):196-206 (2011)
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In a couple of classical studies, Keeney proposed two sets of variables labelled as value focused thinking (VFT) and alternative-focused thinking (AFT). Value-focused thinking (VFT), he argued, is a creative method that centres on the different decision objectives and how as many alternatives as possible may be generated from them. Alternative-focused thinking (AFT), on the other hand, is a method in which the decision maker takes notice of all the available alternatives and then makes a choice that seems to fit the problem best. The impact of these two methods on idea generation was measured using a sample of employees. The results revealed that employees in the value-focused thinking condition (VFT) produced fewer ideas. Thus, value-focused thinking (VFT) is not only able to facilitate ideation fluency but also to constrain it. Factors such as cognitive effort and motivation may play a part here. However, the quality of the ideas was judged to be higher in terms of creativity and innovativeness. Hence, value-focused thinking (VFT) seems to have a positive impact on the quality of ideas in terms of creativity and innovativeness regardless of ideation fluency. Implications for the design of idea management systems are discussed.
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