Creativity at Work
Creativity is functional and fun. It free’s people’s thinking so they can create new futures.
Use WCIW to enable your staff, team, clients, and associates to generate new ideas, make new decisions, take new actions and achieve new outcomes that make the world a better place and make their place in the world better too.
These simple creative activities can be used to spark new business, organization, or agency-friendly ideas.
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Use World Creativity and Innovation Week to bring your teams’ creativity to light.
some recommendations to consider:
An approach: Review the following list of suggestions – select 5 you like, and from the 5, choose 1 to do. Then share your plans – figure out a way they help to support the Sustainable Development Goals – and post them here for the world to see. (How’s that for a creative exercise? It’s called force-fit)*
- Invite your team to work together to embellish and expand a new idea you want to present to your boss
- Hold cross-discipline brainstorming sessions for suggestions to improve efficiencies and communication
- Challenge your employees to come up with more than 100 ideas for how to green their area and your company that much more than what is being done
- Bring in speakers or facilitators to expand your perspectives and expertise
- Do something new during breaks, over lunch or throughout a day or the week to keep people fresh.
- By all means, engender ideas and solve problems in new ways.
Be forewarned… once you begin using creative approaches to innovation and problem solving you may like the results and, keep using them moving forward.
Bring employees to the streets or the parking lot to play, just like school kids in class. Recess gives a chance for businesses to infuse daily life with creativity and fun.
You will need supplies – sidewalk chalk, bubble solution and bubble wands (the small jars and regular wands are fine). These supplies are inexpensive, earth-friendly, biodegradable, and require no cleanup – they wash away with rain. Besides, any leftovers you can give to a local school or youth group.
2. WCIW Ambassador
Choose volunteers to creatively lead your groups. People who are internal inspirational leaders can motivate the spirit of everyone! They can spearhead creative projects as well as connect with us, posting pictures of your creative victories!
3. Idea Jar
Give your team a topic to brainstorm. Have everyone write different ideas as potential solutions (even silly ones) and put them in a jar. Everyone then takes a turn by pulling out an idea and then doing their best to make it work.
Tip: Warm up the group by having some silly challenges for the idea jar at first before aiming to get results, such as…
- Write a song about the company
- Solve a company problem in a way that would get you fired
- Come up with an idea to make the company greener
- Come with an idea to make your job better
- Come up with an idea to cut costs
4. Admit It. You’re Creative.
How well do you know your co-workers…? Did you know that quiet guy in accounting plays in a band at night or that Lucy in IT teaches Salsa dancing or that the boss paints with watercolour on the weekends…? Create a company talent show, gallery or event to which you invite people to share ways in which they are creative outside of work.
5. Corporate Jam Session
Invite all the employees who play a musical instrument or sing to jam together over lunch.
6. Corporate Challenge
Challenge your competitors, your suppliers, your divisions to raise the most money for charity and/or have your employees invent new and interesting ways to fund-raise for your favourite charity – in ways that it has never been done before. You will get everyone thinking creatively while helping a good cause. See ideas for philanthropic team-building here.
5. Idea Library
Have everyone bring in their favourite book, and get them to share the best idea they got from it. Write these down and post them as your team’s ‘wisdom wall’.
6. Job Swap
Let your employees learn more about the company by having them spend a day in another department. This can lead to greater understanding and appreciation of what the company does and the value their co-workers bring. Creativity is about new ideas and new decisions, right? The job swap enlightens and inspires.
7. Live IdeaMap
Locate an area with a large amount of wall space and safely cover it with large sheets of paper. At the centre of the page, post a problem or challenge that the company is working on. Invite everyone in the organization to come up with suggestions for solving it, add to definitions of ideas or build on someone else’s idea. You can use sticky notes with coloured markers (non-toxic or water based), or just markers alone.
Rather than gather everyone into a brainstorm, allow people time to think and add their contributions when they are able to and when they have ideas. Over the course of a day or week, you will watch solution options grow—and create a sense of engagement and ownership. It works really well when posted outside or inside the lunch room.
8. Creative Buttons
Make wearable quotes and proclaim your creativity to the world! Inspire creativity in others too. Choose slogans that promote positivity and validation. Use a variety of materials and means to place your slogan on a surface of your choice without causing damage. Give out buttons, stickers or signs to acknowledge each others’ creative abilities.
Supplies: You will need a “surface” – buttons, stickers, pins, hats, shirts, curtains, furniture, boxes, canvas, etc. Always think “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. This project is a good way to reuse items. You will need marking materials – paint and brushes, markers, needle and thread, fabrics, fabric paints, glue, and sequins! Be creative!
- I am creative!
- Everything is interesting
- Do what you love
- Dream BIG dreams
- Look closer
9. Theme Days
Have a different theme for every day during WCIW, such as
- Hat Day
- Ugly Tie Day
- Red Day (or any other colour)
- Be Kind to Co-worker Day
- Share an Idea Day
- Volunteer at a Local Charity Day
10. Creative Pot Luck
A different spin on the office potluck, have everyone bring in a themed dish or a new dish. Such as:
- Cookie swap – everyone bakes a different kind of cookie
- International flavours – everyone brings in a dish from a different country or everyone chooses a different dish all from one chosen country
- Traditional dishes: People make and contribute dishes made from a recipe they grew up with
- Experiment – Everyone makes a new dish they have never served
11. Creative Awards
Incorporate awards for creative thinking at corporate awards ceremonies, and school awards ceremonies. Who do you know that is especially creative in his or her own way, or who, through their positive attitude, inspires others? You can also make more personal awards and craft an award for someone in your team or in another department.
12. Go Green
Find ways to connect your work with one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals. show others how you are helping to create a decent life for all on a sustainable planet.
13. Mustache Bomb
It’s a delightful and funny treat to see little mustaches on everyday objects like clocks, staplers, doorknobs, faucets, etc. You don’t have to stop there. Wouldn’t that telephone love a bow tie? Wouldn’t that mug love a top hat? Surprise everyone in a funny and anthropomorphic way!
Under cover of night, or when no one is around, print out different sizes of mustaches and place them all over everyday objects.
You will need a computer and a printer to print out many mustaches, coloured construction paper, and scissors to cut them out, and painters tape to stick everything on. Please remember to recycle, or collect and reuse them for another future and improved mustaches bomb!
14. Weird Challenge
Idea: Provoke and challenge new thinking every WCIW day
Find the smallest or zaniest problem your organization faces and challenge people to come up with THE Worst solution.
For example, a small problem could be that people leave their computers on at night and they need to be turned off to conserve energy. A zany problem could be the toilet paper being stolen.
Tips and Insights:
- By working together on the problem, contributors take more ownership even if the problem is small or zany
- By taking more time to define the real problem (the problem hidden within the problem), the solutions become more innovative
- No matter what idea is presented, ask everyone to build on the idea
- Involve the senses: What does the problem smell like, taste like, feel like, sound like, what colour would you associate with that it? How might you improve on it or make it different?
- Encourage people to showcase the ideas on their office doors or walls
- Run a poster campaign with different creative solutions every day
Then, watch how “The Worst” ideas spawn really great ones.
15. Born Free
Promote workplace freedom.
Everyone has the ability to generate new ideas, make new decisions, take new actions and achieve new outcomes, and, we each do it uniquely.
- Some people prefer to generate lots of ideas and share each one, others prefer to generate a few ideas and share only those that are sound.
- Some people prefer to work in chaos, others prefer to have order.
It all works, and it’s all good. Celebrating differences and collaborating among the different perspectives allows everyone’s preference to thrive.
To celebrate preferences, for example,
- Ask everyone to identify their favourite way to work.
- Post it on their door/wall
- Urge them to work that way all week
- Ask their co-workers to highlight what’s good about that individual’s approach
- Ask the individual if they would like to add anything to their work mode.
16. Idea Coffee Buzz
Offer free coffee Friday morning of WCIW, urge colleagues to hang around for 20-minutes to talk with each other having a specific focus in mind – like, ways to eliminate workflow roadblocks. This helps stimulate conversation and thinking. New ideas inevitably pop up. When ideas do pop up, encourage the group to find ways to support the idea no matter how good or bad it is. Other related examples:
- Over coffee (or water – it’s better for your brain) generate a list of 100 ways to compliment an idea
- Put a whiteboard in a high traffic area and ask for colleagues to contribute ideas. Ask passers-by to take one of the ideas and add something to it to make it better.
- Create some idea recognition cards and send someone a note of recognition for being creative
- Hold outings (field trips) to where your consumers shop (if you are in retail, visit other shops your customers use) and talk about new ideas you can you in your organization
- Run a lunch and learn about creativity (people can talk it through on the Friday morning Coffee Buzz)
- Challenge your most innovative department to strut their stuff by hosting a lunch event in the cafeteria to ask for new ideas from others in the organization in novel and interesting ways
17. The Great Hall of Trust
Do what the Emergency Task Force does after every project (which often includes shootings, bombings, hostages and generally things that can really go wrong).
The entire team enters a “no rank room” to debrief. There, no one has a title, rank, or seniority. Positive and negative concerns and ideas about what to do differently and/or better flow in this kind of dynamic. Once the debrief is over, the team exits the room and everyone resumes their rank.
A simple debriefing process to use is:
- What (what happened)
- So What (what did you learn)
- Now What (how can we apply the learning?)
Keep it simple and positive, this is not a place or time for blamestorming.
18. Lunchbox Surprise
Surprise colleagues with a string quartet over lunch. Sounds, particularly stringed instrumental music, stimulate different parts of the brain and create new pathways for thinking.
19. Daily Ha Ha’s for AHA’s
Every day during WCIW, ask a different team to provide a chuckle of the day, via email, main bulletin board, intranet postings, etc.
- Make laughing one of the goals for every meeting during the week
- Put funny story time or a playful activity on each meeting’s agenda
20. The Grape Debate
Practice the fine art of debating without attacking and practice building on ideas.
Split the group into pairs (not pears) and give each person a grape. The challenge is to debate the merits of each person’s grape – all the attributes that make the person’s grape the best grape in the world.
Encourage people to respond to each person’s case for their grape in the following ways:
- First, argue loudly and disagree passionately
- Second, agree, agree, and agree some more
Each partner has to respond to the ideas put forward in the following order:
- What’s good about the idea
- What’s good about the idea moving forward?
- Some obstacles, concerns, watch outs
- Ways to strengthen the idea
It takes discipline to respond to an idea positively, and it makes a world of difference. Each time someone finds what’s good in another person’s point of view or idea (they don’t have to agree with it, just appreciate it) there is greater opportunity to find new ideas and creative solutions. So practice, practice, practice.
21. Conflict Conflab
Some people run from conflict and others run towards it. Here’s a way to turn everyone in the opposite direction.
Ask people to take someone else’s point of view on a subject. To do this, identify a contentious issue. Ask each person to write his or her thoughts and ideas about the issue on one piece of paper. Then, collect all the pieces of paper. Mix them up and redistribute them to the group.
The assignment: Continue with the meeting using the point of view of the piece of paper in front of you.
22. Mistake Party
Celebrate mistakes, really celebrate mistakes, and collect the learnings from them.
23. Break Brains
The brain is wonderful and it’s like a machine yet, if one does the same thing and thinks the same way day in and day out, big ruts form and it becomes tough to pull out of the rut when a change occurs. The goal here is mental flexibility for generating new pathways in the brain. This takes time and practice.
To achieve this end, encourage people to take time during WCIW to:
- do things that are new, different or do things differently
- move their feet and their body
- use their hands
80% of the brain’s neurons connect to the hands so, when people use their hands, as in playing with pipe cleaners, in creative problem solving, they are able to tap into a greater imaginative power.
24. New Frame of Mind
Invite colleagues to include something different in their daily routine during WCIW, such as
- Encourage people to take a different way to work (transit, route, carpooling, time, etc.)
- Host an art class (pottery or drawing)
- Give out stress balls or clay to relieve stress and get the creative juices flowing
Share your ideas!
*Many people contributed to creating this list over the years, sadly, the reference to who was involved has been lost. Moving forward, we want to keep track of people who help the world out with their ideas to bring creativity to the workplace for WCIW and WCID.
What are your suggestions for celebrating WCID and WCIW at work? Help create a list of ideas to stimulate workplace WCID and WCID activities.
Enter your information in the comments below. Accepted ideas will be posted (no advertising, easy to read) with links.