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12 Ways to be More Creative At Work
by Grace McGartland
As seen in PR Tactics!

In today’s rapidly changing business environment everyone is looking for ways to become more effective in their thinking. An important way to promote effective thinking at the office, is to foster a creative work environment. Having fun is a big part of developing a creative work environment. In fact, humor makes up an essential part of effective thinking; and is the one basis of creativity. It allows us to break away from predictable, set patterns opening up the floodgates to unconventional, innovative solutions.

Using toys allows you to inject humor into your work environment. As a child you used toys to express your creativity and expand your imagination. Now, you can use the same toys to introduce the spirit of creativity and innovation to your work environment. When you bring toys into your meetings you give people powerful resources to rediscover the child within themselves and integrate creativity into their work, stimulating innovative ways of thinking. Toys not only bring the spirit of fun into the work environment, but by strengthening the link between play and energy, the flow of blood to the brain increases, which stimulates fresh thinking. Designed to help participants through difficult periods, toys are often just the thing to break the ice, ease through a tough issue, and curb the egos.

Michelle Mink, Market Manager at US WEST Communications, uses Toys for Thinking, especially in long meetings. "If we’re working on a project that requires us to be (in a meeting) for a day or two, it helps people to relax a little bit more. They can focus. (Playing with toys on the table) keeps their hands busy, and they listen better." Michelle also finds that using different colored markers, as opposed to blue and black only, helps keep groups focused, and the occasional impromptu tossing of toys across the room breaks up the monotony of a long, intense meeting, giving participants a chance to stretch.

It’s important to remember that you can convert the fun you are having into powerful outcomes. Recently, the presidents-elects of an international association were generating ideas for fund-raising events for the year to come. While playing with toy cars and having an outrageous conversation, the ideas of hosting a family sports car rally emerged and developed into a very concrete and down-to-earth possibility.

While the thought of how to achieve creative results can seem daunting, you can start by integrating creativity into your work environment one step at a time. If introducing toys to your office seems like too large a step to start with, here are 12 other suggestions on how you can invite creativity into your workplace:

  1. When presenting information, look for ways to add a graphic such as a funny picture or a drawing to illustrate your point. Leaders at Owens-Corning use pictures to illustrate their visions of leadership. They post hem on the wall and describe which picture they selected and why. Or try this, during a performance review, which is usually a very stressful time, have your employees draw a picture of their past performance in addition to the formal write-up.
  2. Leave fill-in-the-blank sections on your reports; ask for volunteers to complete your thoughts.
  3. Think in opposites: present from the back of the room, start the meeting from the end of the agenda, or give a series of answers and ask what the questions are.
Need more ideas? Check out the Thunderbolt Thinking Jump Starts for how-to-steps on using Thunderbolt techniques, or read our Interviews with Innovators to learn about clients who've integrated Thunderbolt Thinking into their teams or organizations and achieved real breakthroughs!


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  1. Call a daily recess; take time out to laugh. Read a book of jokes for a few minutes or call a dial-a-joke number. Appoint someone to be the "Director of Levity".
  2. Take time just to doodle; see what happens. Start with a clear sheet of paper and doodle continuously for ten minutes. Use a lot of colors. Post this on the wall and ask your colleagues to add their "doodles". At the end of a week go back and talk about what you see. Then draw "connections" between the emerging images and a potential challenge you’re dealing with at work. See what solutions can be created. A manager at PetroCanada recently had his group draw a picture of their expectations. They discussed what images surfaced from the drawings before proceeding with their meeting.
  3. Stop time: take off your watch and turn the clock around. Go all weekend without wearing your watch. Go all week without wearing your watch. You’ll be surprised at the way your internal clock works.
  4. Experiment! Try doing something different. Go to an ethnic restaurant that you’ve never visited before. Go to a movie on Thursday afternoon. For the next budget review, serve chocolate covered coins!
  5. If your company will allow it, dress casually one day each week. If they don’t, change the rules!
  6. Use music. Try playing background music while holding a performance review; create a song to deliver your next financial report. At Mattel Corp. in the early 1990s rap tunes were part of the lore that helped turn the company around.
  7. Wear a pair of kid’s funny glasses for a complete day. This will inspire you to see things in a new light and alter your perspective.
  8. Write all your memos using crayons.
  9. Design and wear your own thinking cap for a week. A group of product managers, at US WEST Communications, designed their own hats to wear while creating new products for their specific division. The hats all reflected one or two aspects of their clients "brains".

Creativity is an attitude that demands that you manage your thinking. It’s a way of blending together data based research, which is logical and rational thought, with outrageous exploratory know-how that comes from your intuitive wisdom. When you integrate this intuitive ability with learned information and knowledge, you operate using all your resources which provides flashes of insight and recharges your thinking. Creative thinking has always been the driving force that has moved our country forward. To remain competitive, businesses must effectively use their most valuable resource: brainpower. Any organization that can harness the limitless potential of their people’s creativity is powerful and unstoppable.

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