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‘Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns to look at things in a different way’

Do you see the duck or the rabbit?

One of the greatest lessons learned during my professional career to date is that there is always another way to look at things – and the same set of facts can be interpreted differently. In spite of this being so, our individual response to information commonly defaults to the picture that we allow the facts to create in our mind, as filtered through our individual and or organisational perspective, knowledge and experience.

For example: if one sees the above picture as a duck and another sees it as a rabbit, neither would have failed in the correct interpretation of the facts, although each party would have read them differently. Their individual interpretation will depend on what each chose to see.

The same applies in business in-so-far as there is often more than one way in which to view a particular matter, yet so often the ‘same old – same old’ is applied.

The unique space in which I have chosen to operate at the intersection of health, business and law has highlighted the need to see each and every assessment referral; dispute matter; case management and coaching clients from different perspectives, so that the most appropriate, cost-effective and time efficient service and route is selected when engaging professionally. What is required is the constant awareness of the need to maintain the balance between the merit of the application of set processes (the ‘same old’) and the need to move beyond them.

In this regard, not every referral for a functional capacity evaluation (FCE) is necessarily suited to this particular process. Just because it has been referred for such an assessment does not automatically mean that another method of assessment would not be preferable. It may be that an objective review of the case’s papers constitutes a better route; or a phone call to the relevant involved parties from an objective outsider would be of greater benefit; or a short assessment is required rather than a full report.

Similarly, when dealing with disputed claims matters or litigation cases, there may be different service options more suited to the case than that which is in process, such as mediation for instance.

Having enjoyed valuable personal time with a number of clients across the risk and legal domains during the first half of 2018, it has become increasingly evident that the role of facilitated mediation in disputed matters provides the opportunity to a faster and cheaper alternative dispute resolution process through which both parties are properly heard, their individuality recognised and their dignity honoured. Irrespective of the settlement agreement reached both leave the table feeling intact, with a sense of gain and retained personal power, rather than victory or defeat.

Furthermore, an externally facilitated case management process may be a less positive experience for an individual than a coaching process that engages them on an entirely more personal level. The latter draws on their sense of self-management, control and purpose, whereas the former runs the risk of being experienced as a demand for their engagement upon instruction.

I see it as part of my professional responsibility to look at things differently and to consider what the ‘best’ service option may be in dealing with the matter in hand, inclusive of the recommendation of the referral of the case to another professional when necessary.

It is the application of the above-mentioned kind of approach that allows for the development of new and better solutions; and it was because Mercantile and General Reinsurance applied their mind in becoming creative in 1990 that FCEs in the life industry were born.

Having been the pioneer in creating the space that FCEs currently enjoy – and being a continued supporter of their value – my journey so far has warned that their potential downfall lies in the risk of becoming an established pattern that reduces the appetite for doing things in a different way.

The same goes for the processes followed in disputed matters, whether managed through the internal arbitrator; a referral to the Ombudsman for long-term insurance or litigation. When a more creative solution will improve the reputation and experience of an organisation, while simultaneously providing a better service to the client, it ought to be pursued.

Creativity – and breaking out of patterns – is necessary in the pursuit of business development, growth and service. It is also fundamental to improved outcomes. A further added benefit is that it makes life a great deal more fun, as summed up in another quote by Edward de Bono:

‘Creativity is a great motivator because it makes people interested in what they are doing. Creativity gives hope that there can be a worthwhile idea. Creativity gives the possibility of some sort of achievement to everyone.
Creativity makes life more fun and more interesting.’



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