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» Ideas

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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A Creative Way to Teach Multiplication

In an earlier post, I mentioned how my oldest son asked to learn multiplication. To encourage his love of math, I bought a multiplication workbook and left it, along with a pencil, in the living room. What I’ve found is when my son comes into this frequently used room, he grabs the pencil and starts working on multiplication. In thinking about other ways to nurture multiplication, we started playing “Multiplcation War.”

What is Multiplication War? Well, it’s like the card game War, but rather than using regular playing cards, we use multiplication flash cards. Here are instructions:

  1. Grab a set of multiplication flash cards, or make your own by writing down the 12 Times Table. To create your own cards write down one multiplication problem per index card. Start with 1×1 and go all the way to 12 x 12. Note, don’t write down the answers on the index cards. Once you’ve written down all the multiplication problems, you should have 144 index cards.
  2. Deal out all the cards. Players do not look at the cards. Keep them face down. The goal of the game is to win all the cards.
  3. Players turn over their top card. Each player computes their multiplication problem. The one with the higher total wins the cards. Keep playing.
  4. If players turned up cards are equal, there is a War. Saying, “W-A-R spells WAR” each player places 5 cards face down onto their original card. Each player turns up their last card. The player with the higher total wins the cards.
  5. The game ends when one player wins all the cards, or after a designated number of rounds. When you end the game depends on how much time you have. If you play until one person wins all the cards, it can take a long time. Hint: playing until one person has all the cards is a great way to pass a rainy day.

We’ve been playing Multiplication War for the past week. What I love about the game is that it helps my oldest son reinforce his knowledge of multiplication. And, though I thought Multiplication War would be too difficult for my Kindergartener, he’s addicted to the game. It turns out, my younger son is able to look at the numbers on the cards and conceptually figure out which multiplication problem results in the highest total. He told me, “9×3 is more than 8×1 because 9 and 3 are bigger than 8 and 1.”

Even though my youngest son isn’t able to guess every multiplication problem correctly, he’s learning the basic skills that will help him get ready to multiply. To help younger children play Multiplication War, you can provide them with a 12 Times Table answer key. See the example below or use this link for a printable version. Additionally, earning a masters of arts in teaching will teach you new and exciting methods to make learning fun for students of all ages.

Multiplication

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A fun, creative, and inexpensive way to encourage multiplication!

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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Where Does the Tooth Fairy Get Money?

Kawaii Mushroom Tooth Fairy Pillow

In a recent conversation with my 5-year old son, we chatted about where the tooth fairy gets his money (yes, in our house the tooth fairy is male). According to my son, the tooth fairy collects teeth and then sells them to people who need them. The tooth fairy then takes the money and gives it to kids who lose their teeth.

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T-shirts, Dresses and Handbags that Power your Smartphones

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 05:  The Atrix 4G smar...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Once you own a smartphone, it soon becomes the center of your universe. I don’t know about you, but I feel lost when my phone is charging, or worse yet, when it is out of batteries. However, someday soon, smartphone deprivation may become a thing of the past. Take a look at these 3 fashions that can also charge your electronics.

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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?”

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How “Good Stress” Breeds Creativity and Innovation

Jack Skille scores the game-winning goal again...

Image via Wikipedia

There are some who believe stress is a bad thing when it comes to creativity and innovation. However, those of us in the trenches know a little “good stress” can actually help boost creativity and innovation. So, what is the difference between good stress and bad stress? When asked if people want the good news first or the bad news first, most choose the bad news, so here goes. Bad stress includes time pressure and organizational impediments, like political problems, harsh criticism of new ideas, and emphasis on the status quo. I’m sure many of you have “been there, done that.” Researcher Theresa Amabile, has spent much of her career studying time pressure and organizational impediments. If you’re interested, check out Time Pressure and Creativity: Why Time is Not on Your Side. Now for the good news, stress can also be positively linked to creativity and innovation.

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Banana Toothpicks and Other Creative Ways to Get Kids to Eat Healthy

toothpicks

Image by C R via Flickr

One of my kids is an adventurous eater, while the other is choosy. My older son will gladly take a taste of anything our family serves. Well, almost anything. He did tell my mom, in a non believing voice, “Grandma, we don’t eat food out of a can!” when she tried to serve him a bowl of Beefaroni. My younger son, on the other hand, won’t eat anything colorful. That is, with the exception of lollipops, candy and other not-so-healthy choices.

In order to get my younger son to try fruits and vegetables, we experimented with lots of things – renaming foods, bribing him, testing different cooking methods…and so on.  While renaming tofu to “cheese” seemed to work for miso soup, we hadn’t found any foolproof ways of getting him to eat fruits and vegetables until we stumbled on the power of sticks. Turns out, kids love eating food on sticks. My son loves to say, “Mom, anything tastes good on a stick!”

Rather than eating bananas from the peel, we slice them and eat them using toothpicks. Voila, the birth of banana toothpicks. We also make kebabs, or “meat on a stick” and order terriyaki when we get take out. It seems the unexpected nature of eating food with sticks turns the focus from nutrition to fun.

Just what the kids need!

 

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