• Founder and principal consultant, Synchlora, LLC
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Kathy Kegley is the founder and principal consultant of Synchlora LLC, a consulting business dedicated to developing human capacity at the individual, team and organizational levels. She is also adjunct faculty in the school of business at Clemson University. Kathy holds a B.S. in chemistry, an M.S. in computer science, a Ph.D. in computer engineering with an emphasis in artificial intelligence, and has recently earned a second M.S. in plant and environmental science. With Kathy's expertise in creative problem solving, her work is based on her core beliefs that everyone has a unique capacity for creative thinking, and that each individual or group can use this capacity to develop effective, insightful and innovative solutions to problems. She has extensive experience developing online instruction using technology to deliver media-rich, learner-centered content in diverse areas including management, computer applications, bioinformatics, plant science, and creative inquiry. Kathy's passion is to partner with organizations who want to develop creative solutions to difficult problems and work with them through all phases of the solution development life-cycle.

Title Description

Creative Thinking for Accountants

Accountants are essential for helping companies improve productivity, generate cost-effective strategic plans, and develop wealth-creating initiatives. Each of these activities can be boosted by enhanced creative thinking abilities, yet the ability to think creatively in this field is often so strongly linked to unethical behavior or dismissed as unattainable that tapping in to this potential is frequently overlooked. In today’s economy, all of the creative thinking power in a company is needed to generate new ideas, recognize opportunities as they occur, and maintain a competitive edge through innovation. This workshop offers creative thinking techniques especially tailored to the personalities and preferences of people often attracted to the accounting profession, and the inclusion of an assessment such as MBTI or HBDI will further enhance the effectiveness of the customized training. An understand- ing of the basic rules of creative thinking is emphasized, and attention is given to designing activities that are within the comfort zone of all participants. Participants will receive a scorecard of their progress using established measures of creative thinking and develop a structured plan for continuous improvement.

Creativity and Innovation: Unleashing Your Full Potential

Everyone has a unique capacity for creative thinking, and this highly interactive workshop will introduce basics such as how to develop a credible belief in your own abilities, methods for dealing with ill-defined problems in ambiguous situations, and techniques for new ideas and insights about challenges. Participants will gain confidence in their creative thinking abilities, assemble a mental toolkit of creative thinking techniques based on personal preferences, and will be given a set of suggested activities for continued development after the workshop.

When We’re At Our Best: Appreciative Inquiry

This workshop presents the “half-full” perspective of organizational development as proposed by the Appreciative Inquiry approach. Appreciative Inquiry tackles the desire to change from one state to another by better understanding the positive aspects of the organization when it is performing at it’s best and expanding these positives to affect a change. For example, if the challenge is to improve employee morale, the inquiry focuses on understanding when morale is highest and then building upon those lessons learned to envision future possibilities, design steps toward reaching the ideal state and articulate an action plan to implement the steps. Participants will learn about the four phases of Appreciative Inquiry, cover best practices for conducting an Appreciative Inquiry interview, and understand the steps recom- mended for launching a complete Appreciative Inquiry effort. Participants will engage in a mock Appreciative Inquiry initiative to put the workshop concepts into practice.

Beyond Brainstorming: Facilitated Idea Generation Sessions

Are new ideas essential to the growth of your organization? Do your brainstorming sessions sometimes suffer from groupthink, negativity or a sense of apathy? Could your sessions benefit from an outside facilitator with a rich collection of techniques to help keep the group engaged and the ideas flowing? Increase the richness and originality of ideas generated in your sessions by collaborating with a facilitator who has the expertise to guide your group through an idea generation process and provide just-in-time training for techniques customized to your team’s thinking preferences and the challenge at hand. The session can be held on site at your organization or in a facility at Furman.

Team Creativity: Sparkling Fountains or Stagnant Pools?

Are your teams overflowing with new ideas or are they in need of a refresher on best practices for team creativity? This workshop will help teams understand how to recognize, value and embrace the mental diversity that is essential for productive idea generation. Important success factors for team-based idea generation will be covered including the development of a nurturing climate for new ideas, active searching for positive possibilities, and the value of collaborative idea ownership. A toolkit of team based idea generation techniques will be provided. By the conclusion of the workshop, a customized plan for idea generation based on team members’ preferences and personalities will be developed. A follow-up session is available for additional coaching and fine-tuning the team’s idea generation plan as needed.

Creative Problem Solving – The Fuzzy Front End

Problems that are ill defined, open-ended and rich with social complexity often resist solution due to inadequate processing in the early stages of problem solving (also known as the fuzzy front end). The tendency to rush to closure and over reliance on critical-thinking during the fuzzy front end of creative problem solving can limit the scope of possible solutions and may even result in the wrong problem being addressed. This workshop provides tools and tech- niques to enhance the early phases of creative problem solving including problem finding, problem restructuring, the construction of shared mental models, and scenario improvisation to stimulate fresh thinking. The process of idea clustering will be introduced as a method of zooming out from the individual ideas to find unexpected connections and patterns in the big picture. Recommendations will be provided for facilitating the process of incubation to stimulate sudden insights and “ah-ha” moments after the initial idea generation sessions have concluded.

Creative Leadership

The U. S. Council on Competitiveness has indicated that “innovation will be the single most important factor in determining America’s success through the 21st century,” and numerous other reports echo this prediction. Because of its fundamental role in innovation, creative thinking has become a cornerstone of organizational success. Subsequently, the ability to recognize, develop, and retain creative talent has emerged as an essential skill set for leaders to remain competitive in today’s global economy. This workshop gives executives an essential foundation for developing creative leadership by providing an awareness of creativity assessment tools, techniques for enhancing creativity at work, and best practices for successfully managing creative talent. Assessments will be introduced to evaluate individual creative thinking styles for purposes such as task alignment, training effectiveness and team development. Key leadership behaviors that support an organizational climate for creativity will be addressed. The influence of motivational factors, the physical environment and employee perception of support will also be covered within the context of creative leadership. Participants will explore examples of idea manage- ment systems and develop a prototype system for their organization. A toolkit of basic creative thinking techniques and resources to support individual and team-based idea generation will be provided. Participants will also gain insights about their own preferred creative thinking style and develop a customized plan for continuing development in creative leadership. One-on-one follow-up sessions will be scheduled within six weeks following the workshop to assist with plan execution.

Creativity at Work

This experiential mini-course combines an inspiring and informative kick-off session with creativity enhancing assignments that participants will complete at work, followed by a celebratory wrap up session. The assignments are designed to allow participants the freedom to choose how they will be completed within their normal work routine. For example, one assignment might be to learn and apply a specific creative thinking technique, and participants will select a work related task to practice the technique. During the online portion of the class, participants may interact with the instructor by email to discuss progress, ask questions about assignments, and receive individual encouragement. Approximately 6 hours will be required for the short reading assignments and activities. A wrap-up session will conclude the course and allow for discussion of success stories and plans for future development.

Creativity Reignited!

Creativity is an essential component for basic survival in areas such as sales and marketing, yet sustained levels of creativity over time in demanding environments may lead to burnout and mental fatigue. This workshop is designed to help people in creative fields regain their creative spark through immersion in advanced imagination boosting activities such as metaphor, digital stories, rich pictures, thinking mandalas and concept collages. Each of the activities can be transferred to the workplace either as restorative breaks to refresh creativity or directly applied to solving tough challenges that require creative thinking. Lessons from the book Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon MacKenzie will be discussed during the workshop to explore ways of maintaining high levels of creative energy while avoiding burnout.

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