10 BUSINESS MEETING CREATIVITY IDEAS
by Craig M. Cortello (Article available for reprint with author and website acknowledgment)
Developing an innovative spirit in the workplace doesn’t require extraordinary measures. Managers can experiment with simple ideas that merely break routines, allowing your employees permission to drop the façade that we all don to some degree when we punch the clock. Here are a few ideas that will help you lighten things up for your staff and get their creative juices flowing, if you have the courage to take the leap:
1. Dart Board
Start every staff meeting by allowing everyone a shot at the dart board. Best shot gets to kick off the meeting, appoint the moderator, or tell what they did over the weekend. Starts things off on a playful note and gets your people out of their chairs. For safety purposes, stick with the magnetic or Velcro variety.
2. Colored Markers for the Flip Chart
Sounds simple, but we are programmed from an early age to correlate the amalgamation of colors with the awakening of our imaginations. If you need further evidence of this phenomenon, observe a classroom full of first graders the next time a teacher instructs them to put away their math books and take out their crayons. And experts agree that the key to creativity lies in the ability to awaken the child inside each of us.
3. Music Creativity
Ask each team member to write a 4-line verse to a song that relates to their job duties, hobbies, business ideas, etc. Go around the room and ask them to sing, rap, or simply recite (military cadence perhaps) their verse. Print the compilation in the next company newsletter to get a little PR for your department or office (others in the organization might want to transfer in when they realize that you’ve given your staff permission to have fun).
4. Music Creativity II
Ask your staff to bring in a CD with a song that describes their personality, work attitude, or how their weekend went. Play excerpts before the meeting for a laugh.
5. To Serve Mankind
Ask your staff to convey what they did over the weekend that was a service to another person, charitable organization, or noble cause. Vote to determine whose action was most heroic and award a gift certificate to the winner, let them leave work early on Friday, or take a longer than usual lunch break. This will encourage your staff to think of new ways to develop a sense of community. It will also help your people feel good about their co-workers, get to know them better, and give them a sense of pride in the organization.
6. Vocabulary Expansion
Ask your team to bring a rarely used or obscure word to the next meeting. Have them use it in a context that is applicable to your business.
7. Memory Exercise
Read a list of 10 or 15 things, preferably something related to your business, your industry, or to a customer and give an award to the person who can commit the most items to memory. This exercise can help your staff become more familiar with your organization and with your customers. Memory development is also a key to developing new customer relationships that will help your business prosper.
8. “If I Ran This Place…”
Ask your staff what they would consider the ideal job, the ideal workplace, and the ideal location. You can’t transform your place into utopia, but you might gain some insight into feasible, marginal changes that will improve things. Now that you have them thinking without barriers, ask them what they would do first or different if they ran the company, office, or department. This one takes some courage and is not without risk, but you’ll be surprised by the answers.
9. Show and Tell
Have your staff bring something that they’ve created, that they are proud of, or from their childhood that the group would find interesting or funny. Demonstrate an interesting or unusual talent, perhaps. We loved this game when we were in kindergarten, and for some reason they made us stop playing as we got older.
10. Top 10 Lists
Until David Letterman decides to pursue intellectual property infringement, go ahead and try this one. Give a topic at your staff meeting, and ask for the answers the following week. Remember to keep it clean and non-offensive. Have your staff rank the answers and use a point system to determine the winner.
We would never ask our employees for quality without offering the resources, direction, systems, and commitment to develop procedures that ensure improvement in that area. Yet we ask employees for creativity or to “think outside the box” all of the time without giving another thought as to how to initiate the creative process. Take the first step and give your staff permission to shake things up a bit at your office. You’re likely to see some changes – for the better!
Today’s quote comes from Bill Strickland, Founder of the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild and MCG Jazz. We’ve featured Bill in a previous video post here entitled The Arts: Giving Hope to the Hopeless.
“The sand in the hourglass flows only one way. Don’t waste precious time chasing someone else’s definition of success. Live your life with purpose now. Look for the things that inspire you, trouble you, make you feel most alive, and trust in those things to shape your future. They will give you all your heart could ever wish for.”
— Bill Strickland
I sometimes wonder why there aren’t more testimonials from leaders from a variety of professions who were influenced by music education. Why don’t they speak out more often and more publicly regarding the benefits of music education. I certainly didn’t have any trouble finding plenty of successful business leaders willing to tell me their stories when I wrote my book. One possible answer is that they don’t have a proper, organized forum.
This Canadian website, The Coalition for Music Education, has a Gallery of Champions of musicians and professionals influenced by music education. Not a bad idea.
Link to the Gallery of Champions website
(scroll down to play the audio testimonials)
A quick word of thanks to The Daily Riff and Catherine Westerberg for inviting me to provide a guest post regarding a new twist on the benefits of music education. Lots of great info and ideas on education and education reform on the website – take a few minutes to take a look!
The most basic principle of launching a new product or service and the greatest success stories come when an entrepreneur recognizes a void in the marketplace and serves that need and those customers.
Learning a Lesson From ESPN
Does anybody recall the early days of ESPN, the Sports cable giant. There wasn’t much to shout about in terms of major sports programming – Australian Rules Football and a plethora of rarely televised events. The staple of the network that fueled its growth from the early days was its own sports news program – Sportscenter.
Why was Sportcenter so successful that it was able to build the foundation for a multi-billion dollar sports icon. Well think about what has been happening to the sports segment of your local news programming.
In most markets, the sports highlights and recap segment of the news has dwindled, as have the resources allocated to employ journalists, producers, etc. According to a 2006 study by the Penn State Center for Sports Journalism in a survey of the top 50 markets, the average local sports segment is 3 minutes.
The logic is that weather and news affect everyone, but sports only appeals to sports fans. Yet that doesn’t mean there aren’t legions of sports fans longing for a more extensive sports news program with highlights and analysis presented by enthusiastic and entertaining broadcasters, and that’s what ESPN’s Sportscenter provided.
- If you’re at a private school, any differentiator is a selling feature that can help attract students. At your open houses, your potential students and their families might not consider arts education a priority. Articulate that you’re still committed to excellence in the arts – but more importantly – tell them why it’s important!
- Create marketing materials with similar themes.
- If you’re not competing for enrollment, your administrator still wants recognition for your school. Summarize your accomplishments and create relationships with local media.
- Track down your former students and ask them to articulate what being a part of your arts or music education has meant to them personally and professionally as they’ve moved throughout their careers. Nothing is more effective in sales than the testimonial of a happy customer.
- Ask those same former students to come back and perform or speak to your students and parents. Seeing these successful professionals with provide a clear demonstration that your program impacts lives.
It’s a cliche, but in every challenge there is opportunity. And if you’re a great arts or music educator (and I know you are!), let ‘em know it!
Previously we posted an impressive list of CEOs of Canadian High-Tech Companies who signed on to a letter advocating liberal arts and a balanced approach to education. We later posted an additional list of CEOs and executives advocating the arts.
Looking for more CEOs and Business Leaders to get on board the arts advocacy train. Any high-ranking CEOs and executives willing to support the following simple statement will be acknowledged here:
“We support funding of arts education as core subjects in our educational institutions. The 21st century workplace requires innovative and creative minds, and arts education is a critical component in the development of the skills necessary to compete in a global marketplace.
“Our employees with a diverse education have increased their value to our companies, our economy, our culture, and themselves.”
As a musician, I’ve always been fascinated by the idea that long after we perish the earth, someone somewhere could be listening to and inspired or moved by the work we’ve left behind. I suppose that’s one of the motivating forces behind most artists’ work – the need to have an impact, to be relevant, and to be remembered – to have a legacy in our life’s work.
But can you define your legacy? That’s was author/speaker Dan Pink (author of A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule to Future) is asking people to do. At his website, he has posted videos from all over the world of people articulating their sentence – The exercise asks you to distill your life — what it’s about, why you’re here — into a single sentence.
Everyone has many aspects of their life and many stages. I can’t think of anything more important than my 16 year marriage and my 13 year-old son. But with respect to the work I do here in this forum:
“He uniquely articulated the benefits of music education and changed hearts and minds in the process.”
Why do you choose to be an artist?…and What’s Your Sentence?