One challenge most leaders face is how to inspire more workplace creativity.Elevating people to higher standards of performance and inspiring useful ideas requires igniting their imaginations.
Open-door leaders are keen to prevent complacency and lethargy. They know that mental grooves of habit eventually form ruts of routine. When people see things the way they’ve always seen them, everything stays the same, dulling work to the point of drudgery.
Inspiring creativity and imagination often requires disrupting people’s mental routine and catching them off guard.
For example, a large manufacturer of paper plates held a series of marketing meetings. The division’s leader wanted people to remember that they weren’t just selling plates, cups, and napkins. They were working for a brand that was deeply connected to the family experience. To lift people out of the rut of discount thinking, he conducted a brainstorming meeting at a beautiful community park near the corporate headquarters.
The meeting was different because it was set up as a backyard barbeque. There were picnic tables with red-and-white checkered tablecloths, an outdoor grill sizzling with hotdogs and hamburgers, even outdoor games like horseshoes and tetherball. Of course there was something else too: lots of the company’s plates, cups, and napkins. They weren’t just commodities; they were an essential part of the experience.
The division’s open-door leader had helped people shift their thinking away from commodities and toward values and traditions. The employees started seeing that on any summer day, their products were smack-dab in the middle of people’s backyard barbecues, picnics, and family birthday parties.
By choosing to get people outside of their thinking routines, away from the four-walled environment of their workplace, the division leader helped shift people’s thinking for the better.
When people started percolating on new marketing and product ideas, the word “discounting” never came up. Instead, they started talking about creative marketing campaigns designed to inspire the feelings of a warm summer afternoon. They talked about partnering with an outdoor grill company. They talked about new “summer flower” design borders for their plates and napkins. They talked about creating an interactive website where customers could swap their favorite picnic recipes.
By shifting people’s thinking and getting them away from the ordinary work environment, the open-door leader opened up a space for people to think in a more inspired way.
How can you inspire creativity in your workplace this week?
About the Author
Bill Treasurer is founder and Chief Encouragement Officer at Giant Leap Consulting (GLC), a courage-building company that exists to help people and organizations live more courageously. Bill is considered the originator of the new organizational development practice of “courage-building”. Bill is the author of the internationally bestselling book, Courage Goes to Work. The book provides practical strategies for inspiring more courageous behavior in workplace settings. Bill’s newest book, Leaders Open Doors, comes out in the Spring of 2013, and focuses on the responsibility that leaders have for providing people with opportunities that cause them to grow and develop. Bestselling author Bev Kaye calls is a “wonderful treat”, and author Chip Bell calls it “amazing”.
Bill’s insights have been featured in over 100 newspapers, including The Washington Post, The NY Daily News, The Chicago Tribune, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Boston Herald, and Investor’s Business Daily. Bill’s insights have also appeared in such magazines as Leader to Leader, Leadership Excellence, Business-to-Business, Parents Magazine, Redbook, Women’s Day, Fitness, and The Harvard Management Update. Since 1991 Bill has conducted over 500 corporate workshops and webinars for notable clients such as NASA, Accenture, Monster.com, Bank of America Merchant Services, CNN, SPANX, the Center for Creative Leadership, Saks Fifth Avenue, Hugo Boss, UBS Bank, EarthLink, PNC Bank, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.