Hiring for Innovation

English: Berlin, office building of Schering c...

In the world of education, there has been a lot of chatter about the creativity crisis. According to Dr. Kyung Hee Kim, Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at The College of William and Mary, creativity has decreased in the United States since 1990. While data and numbers are important, a trip into an elementary school classroom can help shed light on the situation.

On a recent visit to a second grade class, a parent volunteer shared stories about how students were dumbfounded when asked to make a craft for Halloween. Without a model or instructions to rely on, the 7-year olds stared blankly at the volunteer and couldn’t figure out what to do. As they began working on their projects, students criticized each other saying, “that’s not the color you’re supposed to use” and “what’s that supposed to be?” While the volunteer let students know there was no right or wrong way to use the craft table materials, the students’ discomfort was evident.

Read more of this post

The Human Side of Business

New England clam chowder. Source: http://pdpho...I’ve had the good fortune of spending time with my older relatives. One commonality I’ve noticed is that when my relatives tell stories of  the past, their stories usually involve a kind person who touched their hearts and changed their worlds. Recently my 83 year old cousin spoke of a teacher he had when he was 9. This teacher took him under her wing and helped him learn the ins and outs of the English language. She also introduced him to his two favorite foods – lobster and fried chicken. My cousin kept in touch with his teacher over the years and even reached out to his teacher to invite her to his wedding. The kindness of my cousin’s teacher was never forgotten. 74 years later, the story is still being shared.

It seems kindness is not just an individual value, but a business value as well.

Read more of this post

The 5 Forces Shaping Advertising

Marketing to kids. An illustration for Forces ...

Those of us in the advertising business know the industry is undergoing a transformation. There is a blurring of lines among advertising, digital,  and management consulting. Traditional folks are trying to be more digital, digital folks are trying to be more traditional, and management consulting folks are looking to upend the industry. All the while, new entrants are testing, learning and trying out new business models.

Agency evolution is “inextricably tied” to an evolving and complex digital landscape. It is no longer black and white. It is getting harder and harder to parse out digital and non-digital work. As complexity rises, brands are bringing on more and more agencies who are expected to collaborate. Things are certainly getting more confusing. Yet, at the end of the day there are 5 forces shaping advertising. Focusing on these 5 forces can help organizations navigate the turbulence.

What are the 5 forces?

  1. An evolving & complex digital landscape
  2. Consumer control & empowerment
  3. Technology growth & proliferation
  4. An expectation for marketing to have a positive  impact on the bottom line
  5. A shift from making campaigns that are one and done to making experiences that live on – and are fueled by consumers and social interactions

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.

Read more of this post

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.

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.

Read more of this post

Project Managers Are Creative Too!

idea

Image by orkboi via Flickr

There’s a lot of talk about creativity these days. A sweeping number of companies around the globe cite creativity as the number one competency for the future. Creativity beats out rigor, management discipline, integrity and even vision for this coveted position.

About a month ago, I ran a creativity training program for an advertising agency. The folks who attended the training included representatives from strategy, account management, and project management. As I invited participants to introduce themselves, a curious trend emerged. More so than any other discipline, project management professionals described themselves as “not creative.”  This is unfortunate as the prevailing question in the field of creativity has shifted from, “Are you creative?” to “How are you creative?”

Read more of this post

Creative Ways to Finance Non-Profit Organizations

Washington Street

Image by Jef Nickerson via Flickr

I attended a fundraiser for the South End Community Health Center a few days ago. Growing up in the South End helped to make this fundraiser even more special. As I took in the sights and sounds of the neighborhood, I considered how much the neighborhood had changed since I was a kid. When I lived in the neighborhood, the area the South End Community Health Center occupied was a vacant and unkempt lot. Now, the Center serves thousands of residents annually. In speaking to folks at the Center, I learned of the creative way the South End Community Health Center was financed.

Read more of this post

A Forbes Study Finds Diversity & Inclusion are Good for Creativity and Innovation

For Two Bits Tuesday:  B A L A N C E

Image by EraPhernalia Vintage . . . (playin' hooky ;o) via Flickr

Chances are if you work for a large organization, your company has a diversity and inclusion policy. Organizations around the world are realizing diversity in the workplace is good for business. In fact, a July 2011 Forbes study found, a “diverse set of experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds is crucial to innovation and the development of new ideas. When asked about the relationship between diversity and innovation, a majority of respondents agreed that diversity is crucial to encouraging different perspectives and ideas that foster innovation.” While a diverse workforce fosters creativity and innovation, I believe how companies define diversity should be broadened.

Read more of this post

The Global Innovation Index 2011 is Out

Coat of Arms of Switzerland.

Image via Wikipedia

Switzerland, Sweden and Singapore lead The Global Innovation Index 2011 as #’s 1, 2, and 3 respectively. Interested in seeing how the 125 countries stack up? Read more. Beware, the report is a beefy 381 pages.

While I haven’t read the entire report cover to cover, I have made it as far as the framework. Here is a synopsis of the measures The Global Innovation Index used to rate each of the countries. Each of the pillars below capture elements of the country’s economy that enable innovation.

Read more of this post