Here’s a great leadership post by Lily Kreitinger. Lily specializes in helping leadership effectively train team members. Follow Lily at LilyKreitinger.com, or on LinkedIn. You can guest post as well! Read how to here.
Ages ago, I wrote my dissertation for my Bachelor’s Degree on Creative Expression. My hypothesis stated: Children who are allowed to express themselves creatively will improve their reading comprehension significantly.
I did the required research and then I designed a creative expression workshop for third graders. The results were astounding.
In the study group, all of the students, ages 8 and 9 increased their reading comprehension skills dramatically after a 6 week program designed to create an environment where they could express themselves in many creative ways.
The theory indicated that if students understood the permanence of written language, they would seek this way to express their ideas and feelings. We guided them through expressive dancing, which they found out was not permanent.
Then we allowed them to express themselves through painting and drawing, but they found out that others couldn’t understand what they meant to depict. Finally they went back to writing, which had the advantage of being conventional and permanent.
What does this have to do with you and your team?
- Do you have a need to increase your revenue?
- Do you have a need to produce better products or offer new services?
- Would you like to design something to fit your clients’ needs at a better cost?
- Would you like to improve your processes?
- Would you like to be more productive?
All these goals can be achieved by fostering a more creative environment in the workplace. “But, we need rules and regulations, and can’t have people running around like it’s a zoo,” you will say. I will mention some names such as: Disney, Pixar, IDEO, Apple… and I’m sure you know of others.
What do they all have in common? Outstanding products and a very creative office environment. People are allowed to dress any way they like, design their own “cubes”, some of them with no walls. Boundaries between work and play are sometimes not clear.
People get paid to dream, think, make mistakes and in return produce the craziest, best ideas they can…and make tons of money in the process.
Question: If a group of 8 year-olds could improve their grades in school because they were allowed to play and dream, what can you do for your team today to foster creativity and produce amazing results?
121 thoughts on “Want A Creative Way To Make More Revenue?”
Interesting research Lily.
There’s a lot we could do to foster creativity among our employees. We could encourage them to write a brief, creative story about a customer and an amazing customer service save, role play ways to sell our product, and more.
I find that there is plenty of room for creative thinking, no matter what line of business you’re in. I’ve suggested to my supervisor that our team should go on a field trip to the Science Museum. I think we can get some great inspiration on how to make learning experiences for adults interactive and fun.
I like that idea. Working with a bunch of engineers (and being one myself), a trip to the Franklin Institute (our local science museum) could be a lot of fun.
I’m married to an engineer. He liked the science museum more than the kids did :0)
Joe! What an amazing idea – both writing the story and then role play. I definitely will use this with my team!
Thanks Louise! I hope it works out well with your team. Would love to hear the results you get with it.
Great question for all leaders to ponder!
What’s your take on it Mark?
Wow, what a great post Lily! I guess I shouldn’t sound so surprised, huh? 😉
I have a five year old that doesn’t seem to get the importance of reading or writing. This really makes me think!
As for the work environment, I was just discussing this topic the other day. Especially in technical fields with computers controlling the output of much of the work, there is much less room for creativity in people’s jobs. It’s really tough for them to be “artists”. I think accommodating for that in the environment could be a great way to help them express themselves and communicate new ideas.
Now, convincing leaders that people can ride skate boards down the hallway. Hmmmm, not sure about that!
Well, skateboards can be a little extreme, but I know a group of developers/IT guys at my work get together every day at lunch break to play some kind of role play game that I’m too old to understand :)) They still find ways to have fun at work.
This definitely speaks to what kind of corporate culture exists, which is a whole topic on it’s own. Of course, I love the idea of building community at work. It’s such an important part of building a high performance team.
Any ideas on how to build community Bob?
Good question. Not easy to nail down, but here are some ideas:
-Start a book club on leadership or team building
-Occasionally include a formal sharing time in team meetings (so you know what people are dealing with outside of work)
-Initiate working pot lucks
-Start an employee award program where everyone gets to vote and celebrate team rockstars
-Organize a volunteer charity event
Of course there’s lot’s of ways to do this and I’m no expert. I think the key here is that people are “doing life together”, to quote from Mark Miller’s book, The Secret of Teams.
When you build community, team members will go farther for each other. They will forgive, they will bend, and they will take more risk for members of the team. I don’t know that this can happen without it.
I think all those are very doable. Would like to hear what happens when you implement them!
I’ve done the book club, the pot lucks (yummy), and the award program.
I’d say they were all very successful! I’d also say they required a lot of personal sacrifice, but well worth the investment!!!
Go Bob. High five!
Taking notes…I have Mark Miller’s book on my wishlist at Amazon. It’s next!
Love that Bob! Community and building high performance teams. – I want to learn how to do this more, I’ve got some reading to do.
Yes, skateboards wouldn’t work too well in our office.
We’ve had hangman tournaments. Fun and low-risk involved.
Hangman tournaments? Nice!!!
Oooh! Rubber band shooting contest…I gotta do that one!!
We’ve also had fun outings, like a river cruise and and appetizers at a nice rooftop restaurant.
We used to have scooters in our office.
I called mine the Green Goblin.
Scooters are a bit of a tradition at Legacy Learning Systems, where I worked at the time. I told our CEO during one of my interviews there that I would require a green scooter if I came to work there.
Needless to say I rode it around like a 12-year old for the first few days or so. Even took it out to the parking lot and cranked it up to almost FIVE miles per hour WOW!
One thing we’ve done in my department more consistently over the past couple of years it to hold employee feedback meetings in which we provide an open forum to discuss ideas, comments, etc. This has been helpful, but we still have a long way to go.
What is one of your favorite things that has come out of those meetings, Jon?
I appreciate hearing ideas that I would never have thought of myself. I also like the fact that employees who participate in these types of meetings and discussions are much more engaged and attached to the organization.
That sounds pretty cool Jon. What a great way to let everyone know that their opinions and ideas matter.
Do you have a way that people can submit ideas in a less intimidating forum? Like a suggestion box, for a lack of a better terminology.
Bob, this is a good idea which has crossed my mind before. Thanks for putting it further on my priority list. I can see how a suggestion box could help.
Wow, you are really open! Your team is very blessed!
By the way, I think you could probably accomplish the same thing if you would do an anonymous team engagement survey. Just a thought. I’m trying to implement this at my current gig but there is much resistance and a lack of trust. Fear of the unknown is powerful.
We actually have an annual anonymous employee engagement survey. I think there are some benefits to this, but I’m not sure that most employees see the benefit.
I’ve had an idea floating around in my head for a while now that involves scheduling a week of volunteer service in the community for the employees at my office. Each employee would be given 1/2 day to serve at a prescheduled location. At the end of the week, we would come together to celebrate over lunch. This kind of week long event would promote teamwork, creativity, collaboration, and community involvement. Now, I need to put it into action.
Do you think that sharing their experience in a creative way when they get back together would be helpful? I’m thinking create some kind of presentation on what they learned and how it inspired them?
Yes, that’s actually part of my idea. I would love to be able to celebrate…”we moved this amount of food for the poor in our area, we served this many cumulative hours together, we did xxxx together.” And then ask the question, “what else is possible?” I think it would be a fun, interesting, and eye opening dialogue.
Jon, this is a terrific idea. Working at a nonprofit and being the site of teams of volunteers like this, I can testify that it is a great experience (for your team and the nonprofit) and does really bring people today. Take great fun pictures, tweet or post on Facebook that you are there and then the celebration lunch at the end just caps it off. And you can feel good that you helped in a meaningful way. Can’t wait to hear the results!
Are you saying Jon should organize a road trip to Nashville to come help you out some time? Sound fun to me, Carol!! :0)
Philly to Nashville? That’s about a 13 hours car ride. Somehow I don’t think that will fly. But I’d love to hang out down in Nashville sometime. 🙂
I know… I’m going down for the Entre Performance series in two weeks. Looking forward to it!!
Can’t wait to see you!
That would be a long road trip, but it would be fun! And we’d certainly put your team to work!
Carol, do you have any suggestions (or samples) as to the best way to propose this to upper management? I’ve spoken about it to a few higher ups, but I need to put something more formal together, and it would be helpful if I had some help in writing a proposal that gets the best (and desired) results.
I don’t have any samples, but I could probably give you some contacts at some of the companies we’ve worked with. They might be able to help. I’m not at the office today, so let me get back to you early next week with some info.
That would be great! Thanks, Carol.
This is a great idea! All of the team have individually contributed to various charity events – but great idea to do all the same week – different times. And then meet to discuss – I will definitely consider using this!
Great article Lily! I’ve seen this first hand – better attitudes, stronger culture, and the ability to foster more revenue come from being able to dream and be creative without being beaten down by management for doing so! It starts with building a comfortable and creative space around you to help develop these ideas (as well as people that agree and participate).
Throw me into an environment where its this way or the highway, and they don’t want to creativity…..I’m destined to fail.
There are a lot of us that discuss, present, and dream our ideas through these creative ways, not necessarily through writing in general.
Great way to start my Friday! Thanks for the post!
Thanks Kerrick! Great comment. What has helped you build a creative work space?
Personalizing the work space is huge – allows the creative juices to flow and you feel more comfortable and positive as a result. Being a Gen Y, I enjoy flexibility of my schedule, which helps too. Often my best ideas come when I’m driving and not in the office. While driving certainly isn’t an expression, the freedom to get out of the office is one way I think of creative ways to enhance myself.
So your “work space” cannot be confined to the limits of a cube. I like it!
Maybe a giant ball or pyramid
Personalizing workspace IS huge, I think. Where each person can make their corner of the work world their own. They own that space and they can do whatever (within reason) in that space.
Had an interesting thing happen to me this week: we’re launching our team wide required reading program today. I learned I need to do this from being in this community. 🙂 (I’m excited!)
We’ve been promoting it for about two weeks, and gave early birds the chance to start reading ahead of the pack – the book: QBQ!.
A day ago, I got an e-mail from one of our ‘first movers’ asking me if he could start suggesting books for our reading program, and if he could help get involved in creating and developing it. (He’s both a professional artist AND teacher.)
Creativity, perhaps, is also about learning how to let other people on your team express themselves. By encouraging this guy to share his ideas, I think we’ll get a much better reading program.
Thanks for helping me think about this today, Lily. 🙂
WOW!!! I love this idea Aaron. A creative leader that promotes creative thinking for his team. Nice!
I tried to suggest to do the same on my team. I think I’ll start a lending library. I’ll have great books available for people to borrow for two weeks and bring them back (or buy me coffee!). Hopefully we’ll get some good material in front of everyone. I’d like to see it evolve into a more formal reading program, but I’m only in a position to lead up.
Thanks for sharing this Aaron, I’m sure it will inspire others!
Thanks Lily! Hmmm…
“I’m only in a position to lead up…” that’s still a strong amount of influence! Have you seen what Bob Winchester has been up to in ‘influencing up’ with a book program? Pretty cool!
Have you ever thought of approaching your leadership to see what they see as being their company’s biggest ‘I want to improve this’ thoughts – and then maybe you offering to organize a book club around that topic?? Just thinking out loud.
I did offer that. There is a possibility of starting an optional book club sometime in the near future.
I repeat, “YOU DA’ MAN AARON!”
Why thank you sir. I am inspired by you. 😉
Lily, you’ve done it again. While I do like a few rules and guidelines, it is so important to let people be creative in ways ranging from dress, to office decorations to even the hours they choose to work. Luckily, we have some flexibility and since I work best in the morning, I come in earlier than most and slide out mid to late afternoon. Others come in mid to late morning and work until evening. Love the idea of letting people be more productive by feeding that creativity. Great post!
Thanks Carol. I don’t know what it is that I did again, but I take it it’s a good thing.
What would you say to other leaders that are afraid of losing control of their team when they allow people to have a flexible work schedule?
I’ve been in jobs where there were set hours not in my most productive time of day (like having to close when I was at the bookstore), and I was unmotivated and not as productive. I think you have a happier, more productive, more positive team when there’s at least a little flexibility.
What if the business itself is not suitable for flexibility? What other strategies can leaders use?
Or… what if the leaders are very ridged on being “traditional”, with hours, dress, decor,etc. What strategies can the individual use as an alternative?
What would you suggest, Laura?
The individual can either try to influence up – teach about other options and benefits for the employer to consider that are less rigid, etc.
Or…if influence is not possible, perhaps it’s time for the individual to make plans for alternate employment? Not quite outright, but begin the hunt?
If your personality requires more flexibility, I’d say that’s a good option.
Can you image if we all got together in the same room…
I would absolutely love to meet each of you face to face.
It would be awesome! Road trip!
I think in that case, the leaders should make sure that the team members understand why it is the way it is. If they’ve bought in to the culture, then it will help them to find ways to be creative in that environment. But if it’s just being dictated to them, then that will be less effective and people will feel more stifled.
I love this question! I think leaders could explore making their workspaces more friendly. Maybe schedules/business model cannot be flexible – but the space could be?
— great coffee on tap to keep people awake
— or great healthy juices (I’m really starting to get into those…)
— spaces to relax a bit – maybe play a game of ping pong for 10 min to distract yourself….
I dunno, maybe I’m missing the idea here, but I think that if your business is sorta inflexible in the times you have to work, you can for sure do something about the ENVIRONMENT INSIDE the business – make it friendlier and more fun to be in?
With a mortgage company, the doors must be open 8 hours a day – but you can give the employees the opportunity to work out a flexible schedule among themselves, i.e., one teammate needs to come in at 10 a.m. instead of 8 because of a health condition – but the office is covered by other teammates. That same teammate works until 6 or 7 and covers for the others if they want to leave early.
In college I had a job for a short while that was a horrible fit for me in terms of time of day. I struggled with hypersomnia, which basically means I fell asleep too easily too often. And this job was from 5pm to 9pm. Man I struggled! There’s a reason I wasn’t there very long 🙂
So yeah, different people work better, or worse, at different hours! 🙂
You are so right, Carol. I have attempted to give my team flexibility – some work from home. Some need to come into office, but opening office hours can be flexible. If 9 to 6 works better then 8 to 5 – then that is ok with me.
I would want to say, “GOOD-BYE!” 😎
That’s Jana, say it like it is!
Ha! and Amen!
I like that.
One of my teammates has a medical condition in which it is VERY hard for her to get up and get going early. But once up – she can work until late in the evening. So…..I have given her the freedom to work her own hours – the ones which best fits her condition. She loves it – and she is a valuable part of our team.
That is wonderful! She is valuable to the team, and I’m sure she appreciates your flexibility. Win win!
This is an oldie, but classic. What do you guys think? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRfsYIMcgLw
I LOVE CONTROL Chaos!!!! The video was very inspiring to watch Lily. Thanks for posting that. What I took away was the discipline of a time management. Also the practicing on focusing one thing at a time. All of that has been resonating in my heart lately! -thanks again Lily and thanks Chris for loving your tribe mates!
Hey Steve! It is one of my favorite examples of a creative work environment that produces great results. It’s not just a party for the sake of it.
Have you experienced other ways to foster creativity in the workplace?
That was cool. Thanks for sharing
Wow – Loved this! Will definitely share!
Great video! This looks great for a R&D type environment. I wonder how it would transfer to non R&D work groups.
I’ve got to say, I have always agreed with Einstein’s belief that “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them Fairy Tales.” They are the embodiment of creative expression and reminding us (children ages 1 to 101) to dream.
And then we knock them down when we tell them to grow up and get their head out of the clouds… ;0) I still love reading fairy tales and watching the movies. I just use my kids as an excuse. Great comment, Kelsie!
Glad I’m not the only one to use kids as an excuse for reading and watching those shows 🙂
Encourage creativity! Thanks for this great reminder, Lily! I am about halfway through leading a program for Nurse Leaders where we have intentionally incorporated games and active learning to stretch their minds. We are beginning to see through comments that their views of themselves are changing. One person wrote on an early evaluation that he wasn’t sure the program was for him, because he was not a leader (in title/role). This week, he referred to himself as a leader. Thanks for the reminder to not talk at learners, but to engage learners!
Great comment, Nick! What do you think has helped in that transformation?
It’s the awesome curriculum, of course! 🙂 Really, it was the chance for him to understand that being a leader is not necessarily a role, but a mindset and set of practices.
Yes, yes, and yes. I’m shamelessly going to mention that I’m on the launch team for Mark Sanborn’s Fred 2.0 and that’s exactly the premise. Anyone can make a difference… but great leaders (and trainers) can help build the right environment for it. Good stuff, Nick!
Looking forward to Fred 2.0! I really enjoyed the first one, and working toward being a Fred.
Wow. This sounds like a neat opportunity. I’ll have to add this to my to read list.
Oooohhh I like that line Nick! “Being a leader is not necessarily a role, but a mindset and a set of practices.’
Google, among other companies, do that. They give their team members 20% of their time to do what they want. To work on whatever projects they want. To read. To play.
If you use Google News…that is where it came from.
Yes, love that. How about Fed Ex day at Atlassian, or other innovation strategies? http://www.danpink.com/2011/07/how-to-deliver-innovation-overnight
I remember that from Dan’s book and LOVE it!
That’s an interesting concept. Is this really practical though for businesses that need to drive revenue in a competitive marketplace? Do you think a current staff can do 100% of the work in 80% of the time?
I think that is the wrong way to look at it but yes they can.
1. If you free them up to do the 20%, great stuff comes out of it. Can companies afford not to allow that time?
2. By freeing them up 20% (or 10% or whatever), it improves their work during the 80-90%.
I don’t mean to be negative. I guess it’s just years of wrestling with it in the trenches. I appreciate the call for action that this provides and comes with a message of HOPE that things can change.
Wow, what a great post, Lily! And one I will share with others. This is the culture that my company has sought to build for many years and just recently I realized that I needed this to filter down to my team – where their creative genius was brought into the mix. But so interesting that this study was done of 8 year olds – amazing!
Thanks Louise! It is great that there is no age requirements when trying to foster creativity in people. What ideas have worked for you in doing this with your team?
Instead of the standard marketing and sales techniques and materials – we gather ogether and hold master mind sessions to brainstorm – asking the question, “what are some unique and different ways to market our business” and “How can we stand out from others – what is our unique selling proposition (USP)” and some great ideas came from this!
Great post! I think we have a tendency to get so caught up at times in being “professional” that we forget that work needs to also be fun. We have to find that happy medium that allows for some fun and creativity.
Agreed. It’s good for us to remember how to bring our ‘fun’ side with us. Did you listen to the Entreleadership podcast with Robert D. Smith? – The guy is totally fun, but has managed to get a pile of things accomplished in his career. Totally inspiring – as soon as I got home, I felt compelled to get the kindle version of his book…..brilliant stuff.
Thanks Dr. Matt! Professional and fun don’t have to be opposites. What do you suggest is a good happy medium?
I like to think of them as opposite sides of the same coin (opposed to being different coins) – it doesn’t work without the other!
I’m a little late in the game today. It’s been busy, but good!
I find that when I am more creative (some may call it goofy or childish, but “I’m rubber and you’re glue…”), I tend to get better results. Granted, it can’t be all fun and no work, but a little bit definitely makes a difference.
The saying is that time flies when you’re having fun. If you’re having fun while working, time can fly and you can look back and realize how much you accomplished without even knowing it!
Or if you’re playing WHILE you are working, you really don’t have to work another day of your life. 🙂 Most of the time, that’s how I view what I do.
I swear this is what just went through my mind: “You want to make more money? You want to encourage your team? DANCE!”
I try dancing at work, but it doesn’t inspire or encourage them. Probably because it’s not actually “dancing” – just moving in ways that could be confused with convulsions. It gets a few laughs, though 🙂
Gotta say – I love it! We were part of a benefit “flash mob” a few months ago – and we all had to learn the steps (I have two left feet!) – but what fun when we all did the dance as part of the national campaign of the charity! It definitely freed them all!
Maybe I could get my office to do the “Harlem Shake.” A bunch of engineers acting goofy – this would be interesting and entertaining.
Lily just wanted to say after reading through all the comments – what a great bunch of commenters there are here! I loved your post – and then so many insightful responses. I have missed the CL community – So much value given here.
I agree. I have been enjoying the experience of getting to learn from the people here in CLo’s community.
So true. Too many businesses miss the mark here. Great reminder!
So the cartwheels I convinced a co-worker to do the other week (that I did too) actually helped our bottom line! 🙂 Go me! And Lily, this whole post goes along great with Recess at Work! Well done!