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Category: Creativity

Just Start Your Own Holiday

December 26th is Boxing Day. The day after Christmas when we decide it’s time to do something for ourselves by waiting in line for hours for the door crasher deals we’ve been eyeing.

Like so many other events, COVID-19 lockdown precautions took away our Boxing Day experience forcing the closure of most retail businesses.

Where many other businesses prepared for lost sales, LEGO saw an opportunity to fill the void by officially declaring December 26th as LEGO Build Day – a celebration of creativity, imagination, and togetherness.

If families weren’t out shopping, they could be home doing something together. Like building LEGO sets. More likely ones that were unwrapped on Christmas. Which, we’re probably the sets bought in anticipation for LEGO Build Day in the first place.

The biggest times of crisis can bring out the genius we never knew we had. Whenever you get stuck always remember LEGO actually created their own holiday for the win.

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Leadership: Creating a Culture of Play

One of the best organizations I’ve worked for was a privately owned company where the owners made it their mission to create an employee first culture.

They would create company sponsored events for each holiday that would include department competitions for prizes, catered bbqs, fun interactive games and more.

But the most memorable events during my time there were the employee field trips. One of the owners (let’s call him Dan) would take about 15 employees from different departments on a full day excursion he called ‘Dan’s Day Out’.

It was a paid day away from the office to have fun doing a number of creative and fun activities around our city. With lunch included! Having a culture of play remained a priority for the owners. That ultimately lead to revenue growth year over year from increased employee productivity.

The world is in a different place when it’s comes to creating and maintaining healthy and effective company cultures, but it’s more in need now than ever before. The dynamic of remote work shouldn’t minimize how leaders engage in a culture of play with their teams.

With work from home mental health issues on the rise, companies will need to work with their managers to keep engagement levels high with employees and be creative when developing remote connection points that trigger feelings of positivity and fun.

Establishing a remote company culture of fun and human interaction isn’t just about separating managers and their team from daily work. It’s an investment in cultivating a happy and healthy work environment that ultimately will have a positive impact on the company’s success.

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Risky Business

Accomplishing greatness starts with making a risky decision to challenge the norm.

Vanderbilt University women’s soccer player Sarah Fuller made a risky decision and challenged the norm by becoming the first ever women to play in a power 5 College Football game this past weekend.

Feats like that don’t just happen. We decide to make them happen. It all starts with making a decision to shake things up, do something different and not looking back in spite of the criticism or the people we make uncomfortable in the process.

The best and most rememberable decisions we make are often the ones with the greatest risk attached to it.

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Thinking Outside of the Soapbox

In my early days of working in transportation, I had the opportunity to work with one of the largest soap brands in the world.

They were my main logistics account for the company I worked for, and I was their point person in charge of coordinating their freight.

Because of market share losses, senior leadership wanted fresh creative ideas to stimulate business growth. Most companies of their caliber and size would limit that conversation to the sales and marketing team. This company sought out a different approach.

They ended up inviting partners from all over their supply chain as well as their general office staff to participate in a group strategy session. Participants included personnel from accounting, customer service, contract warehousing, contract transportation (me), sales, marketing and senior leadership.

The idea was to get a different perspective from individuals who had a alternate vantage point for how the business was operating. First we had a brain storming session to flesh out new ideas. Then we went in groups of two to scope out the product layout at major retailers across the city. We returned to discuss innovative ways to make product placement more appealing to shoppers.

Its no surprise that businesses, large and small, who see year over year growth are usually the ones willing to take an unorthodox approach to creating growth potential and continuous improvement planning.

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The Risk of Uniformity

Twitter was once a haven for social media innovation. One can argue that there’s still no social media platform that’s as influential as Twitter when it comes to pop culture communicating to the rest of us. Just ask Trump.

But with the addition of the new ‘Fleet’ application to the popular app, Twitter is now seen as late the to party when it comes to adding a ‘story mode’.

Yes ‘Fleet’ is nothing more than Twitter’s attempt to jump on the 24 hour story mode first made famous by Snap Chat, then eventually adapted by Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and even WhatsApp.

With many social media users already utilizing Instagram stories with an extension to post in Facebook stories automatically, Twitter Fleets lack of novelty makes it easy for most of us to pass it off as just another app to update.

Meanwhile Instagram and other platforms continue to find ways to bring creative change to the social media universe.

We weren’t missing social media stories. We already had it in multiple versions. Twitter missed an opportunity to innovate and bring something fresh just like when it was launched in 2006.

Creative innovation in your career or business is risky. But uniformity is riskier.

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3 Steps to Creative Transformation

The barebones approach to any level of organizational creative transformation can be accomplished in 3 easy steps:

1. Clearly understand the current operational setup of the business process. Why is the process working the way it is? How do you go from idea, to execution, to customer transaction.

2. Identify opportunities to drive efficiency. Start with the ‘low hanging fruit’ then review the more complex items to initiate creative changes to the process.

3. Put a system in place to track progress. Implementing a systematic way to know whether or not the new process is working. Are tweaks needed or will the proposed changes need to be completely abandoned in favour of starting again?

A word of caution: A simple approach to creative transformation still requires a diligent focus on the details. Even barebones processes need ‘meat’.

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Creative Innovative Leadership

Working as a manager a few years back, I decided to bring a little creative innovation to the way I was leading my team.

I personally launched a speaker series with them by giving them a mini motivational Ted Talk and adding in a little workshop team role playing to enforce the topic matter.

My goal was to provide a fresh experience at the beginning of the work week and give them something to look forward to on Monday mornings.

The result? Productivity increased, efficient collaborations occurred more frequently and from annual performance reviews the team gained an overall sense of satisfaction for the role they were in even if it was entry level.

Creative innovative management in our workplaces will be the prerequisite for successful businesses in a post Covid-19 world. Yes, mini Ted Talks may not be something that can be done in our offices today, but that’s just the idea. Innovative leaders have already developed a solution for that.

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When Building Think: Magnitude

Patience we need for building anything, is a skill we harness overtime.

That picture of our goal in our mind has life, but the process to get there is often long, taxing and filled with sub tasks that don’t seem as exciting as reaching our goal.

Sometimes the journey takes longer than expected and we come to that ‘fork’ in the road to decide if it’s really worth continuing.

Or worse, we take the easy way out and short cut our way to the finish line, weakening the effectiveness that we originally intended.

Through all this we often forget about the desired impact we want our work to have on those around us. You can aim to write a book just to share with friends, family and some locals in your city. That won’t take the same time, effort and strategy to write a book for the global masses.

When building and creating don’t just think about the end result. We need to really ask ourselves what’s the magnitude of impact we want to achieve through it.

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Restoring Creative Energy

Being creative is an unknown and sometimes an unspoken energy that arrives on us at moments notice and at other times is nowhere to be seen when we need it most.

When we experience creative motivation everything in life is good. Our person expression through our work or art can be felt my others. But what happens when we don’t ‘feel’ creative?

How do we re-energize that part of us so we can continue to manifest the ideas and thoughts that come to us?

Of course there’s no one answer to that question and that may be the point. Re-energizing creativity will take you through multiple trial and error activities. Reading books, watching documentaries, scrolling through social media and talking with friends.

Writing, drawing, building, updating your creative space at home will all lead to taking action for the creative staleness instead of wishing you were more creative.

So the simple answer to restoring creative energy is to just do something, anything. I know it sounds too simplistic but sometimes the simplest ideas and actions are the ones that drive the best results.

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Creative Loyalty Doesn’t Exist

Giving your word to someone and keeping is standard practice for maintaining your integrity throughout business and in life.

The same doesn’t apply to your own personal pursuits. Contrary to popular opinion, quitting or giving up can actually be a good thing.

Since 2010 I had launched and subsequently took down several online blogs. While I know there could have been some benefit in continuing with even just one of them, I was honest with myself about how much passion I really had for the project.

Each time I quit I opened myself to experience something new, while adding what I learned from my past experiences to help me excel.

There are those who are okay to continue working on something to uphold the moral code of ‘not quitting’ and ‘finishing what you’ve started’.

You don’t have to be that person. Feel free to quit and start something at your leisure. You’ll come to realize trial and error is the gateway to longterm success and growth.

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