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» Creativity in Business

How Vodka Cranberries Helps Mad Men think Creatively

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18:  The cast and ...

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: The cast and crew of 'Mad Men' including Elisabeth Moss, Jon Hamm, Matthew Weiner and Christina Hendricks pose in the press room after 'Mad Men' wins Outstanding Drama Series during the 63rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on September 18, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

With the premiere of season 5 of Mad Men just around the corner, I found Time magazine’s, How Getting Tipsy May Inspire Creativity fascinating. I’ve been in the advertising industry for nearly two decades and have become desensitized to drinking. Though Mad Men has been criticized for “promoting a glamourized and unrealistic image of functional alcoholism,a study by the University of Illinois at Chicago found drinking moderate amounts of alcohol helped with creative problem solving. Perhaps that explains the acceptance of drinking as a way of life in the ad industry.

On the topic of Mad Men, alcohol, creativity and advertising…a few days ago I went to dinner with some friends. In catching up, one of my friends asked if I was still enjoying Mad Men. When I shared how Mad Men wasn’t relaxing because it was too much like work (umm, maybe not in all the ways you might be thinking!), my friends were surprised. What they were most surprised by was the alcohol. When I shared how I’ve known people who have kept alcohol in their desks, displayed alcohol on their bookshelves, and lugged in mini fridges to keep their beer (and vodka) cold, there was disbelief. I guess this type of thing isn’t normal in other industries.

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Emotional Intelligence and Innovation

Angry Penguin

A few weeks ago, my two boys engaged in a heated argument about whether reading Harry Potter, then watching the movie, was a tradition or a condition. My kindergartener started by saying watching a movie, only after reading a book, was a tradition. He pointed to the fact we had read three Harry Potter books, then watched the three movies as proof. Conversely, my second-grader rationalized that watching a movie after reading a book was a condition. He surmised the fact we never watched the movie first, made movie watching conditional to reading.

In the end, I surprised my boys by sharing they were both right. Watching the movie was both a tradition and a condition. This rocked my boys worlds. As I explained why it was both a tradition and condition, they simmered down and listened intently.  As emotions subsided, they were able to take in alternative points of view.

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Creativity Index Aims to Bolster Much Needed Workforce Skills

English: A university classroom. (Jones Hall a...

A recent Huffington Post article identified gap in what schools are teaching students and what employers are looking for in the workforce. Starting in elementary school, the primary focus of the curriculum is to improve basic skills. Policies like No Child Left Behind heighten the issue by promoting the testing and standardization of basic skills like reading, writing and arithmetic. However, in reality, employers find it is not the basic skills that are missing, but the applied skills including critical thinking, creativity, and innovation.

Many argue America’s educational system was built for a different era – an era where finding the one correct answer was key. Nowadays, the pace of change, the global nature of business, and complex decision making show there is not always one right answer, but a growing need to creatively solve problems. The days of rote thinking are in the past.
Will creating indices that measure creativity help?
To answer this question, we must ask what exactly will be measured. While some educators feel the index should measure the number of classes in drama and art schools offer, it is important to understand creativity goes beyond the arts. States like California and Massachusetts will be the first to define measurement criteria as both have approved bills to develop a Creativity and Innovation Index.
While the key performance indicators of creativity have yet to be defined, the notion of measuring creativity is a positive one. For, as John E. Jones stated, “What gets measured gets done, what gets measured and fed back gets done well, what gets rewarded gets repeated.”
This article was first published on IIR’s Front End of Innovation as “Creativity Index Aims to Bolster Much Needed Workforce Skills.”
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Creativity: How Right Turns Saved One Company $3 Million

No left turn

The other day a couple of my colleagues were talking about sustainability when someone mentioned how FedEx optimized their truck routes so that drivers only take right turns.  Why, you ask? Supposedly, right turns save on gas.

I was a bit skeptical and figured the story had to be an urban legend, so I did some digging.  The story is indeed true. Well, mostly true. The company that implemented the right turn program was UPS, not FedEx. And, UPS does take some left turns…but only about 10% of the time. Here’s how the right turn policy came about.

A few years ago, UPS was facing pressures to cut costs. UPS also had an environmental stewardship policy. In thinking about how to solve their budget challenge, UPS put two seemingly unconnected ideas together.

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How does a Kid Get a Sweet Tooth?

This image was selected as a picture of the we...

My 5-year old was born with a sweet tooth. I remember pushing my little guy in a shopping cart down the baking aisle of our local grocery store. He was just learning how to speak and still had the speech patterns of someone learning the intricacies of language. As we wound our way through the aisle, he started pointing and asking what different things were. This was our dialog…

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Do You See What I See?

Pics 002

Over the past week, I’ve been observing how my kids take in and process information. This little experiment has been fascinating.  What I’ve come to realize is that although we might be looking at the same thing, my kids and I “see” different things. This is particularly true with my 8-year old son.

My son had just finished a few pages of his multiplication workbook and asked me to check his answers. He’s much (much, much) more mathematically inclined than I am, so I wasn’t surprised when he answered all the math problems correctly. What did surprise me was a pattern he saw when multiplying by 5.

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Three Things Strategy Isn’t

There are many definitions of what strategy is, yet most people find the notion of strategy confusing. Rather than adding to the confusion about strategy, we’ll look at the question from another angle. Here are three things strategy isn’t. These observations come from participating in strategy development sessions and conversations within dozens of organizations. During this time, these tenants have rung true:

  1. Read more of this post

Panera Bread’s Innovative Way to Help Fight Hunger

The other day my oldest son asked, “What happens if you go to a restaurant and eat, but don’t have enough money to pay?”

Well, a common answer parents give is, “Wash dishes.” But, the real answer depends on where you’re dining. If you happen to be at Panera Bread Co’s non-profit St. Louis location, you would pay what you could. The restaurant helps feed the needy and also raises money for charitable work. The retail location began in 2010 to test the “community kitchens” concept where businesses operate partly as charities.

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Is Teamwork Driven by Nature or Nurture?

Linkware Freebie Image use it however you like...

Image via Wikipedia

Some say the First Law of Nature is self-preservation. If that is the case, then teamwork runs counter to nature. But, of course, that depends on your societal, familial, or organizational culture. While Western culture might be more geared towards an individual-focus, Eastern cultures are more apt to think about things from the perspective of the team. This debate led me to consider whether teamwork was driven by nature or nurture. For some clues, I looked to my 8-year old son.

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When it Comes to ‘Surprise and Delight’ Technology isn’t Always the Answer

Writing

Image by jjpacres via Flickr

Sometimes when it comes to surprise and delight, technology isn’t always the answer. I’ve spent the last 16 years in the digital realm building web sites and digital experiences. From time to time, I feel like I’ve hit technology overload. IPod, IPad, Droid, QR code…blah, blah, blah. Though we turn to technology for so many things, nothing can beat a human touch.

Case in point, I have a friend who sends hand written cards and photos. Whenever I receive a card, I am pleasantly surprised. It is always a happy experience. One day last week, I decided to pay the happy gesture forward. I knew that my sister was having a stressful week and decided to hand write a card and include some Read more of this post