WCIW at Work

Creativity at Work

Creativity is functional and fun. Embrace creative thinking for problem solving and innovation to survive in this changing economy, and thrive!

You can use simple creative activities to spark team members to generate new business-friendly ideas. You can use World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15 – 21 to find new ideas and make new decisions that will create new industries and new industry standards.

Use World Creativity and Innovation Week to bring your teams’ creativity to light.
some recommendations to consider:

Review the following lists – select 5 you like, and from the 5, choose 1 to do. Then come back and share your plans.

Reflection in a soap bubble.
Image via Wikipedia
  • Invite your team to work together to embellish and expand a new  idea you ant 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

Simple Action. 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 further your innovation you may like the results.


1. Recess

Recess gives a chance for businesses to infuse daily life with creativity and fun.  Bring employees down to the streets or the parking lot to play, just like school kids between class. 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 clean up – they wash away with rain. Besides, any left over 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 come up with new and interesting ways to fund-raise for your favourite charity in brand new ways – 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!
Sample messages:

  • 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 pot luck, 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

Come up with creative ways to go even greener!

13. Mustache Bomb

Under cover of night, or when no one is around, print out different sizes of moustaches and place them all over every day objects. It’s a delightful and funny treat to see little mustaches on every day 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!

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 is creative, we each do it differently.
Some people prefer to come up with lots of ideas and share every one of them, others prefer to share a few select, sound ideas. Some people prefer to work in chaos, others prefer order. It all works, and it’s all good. Celebrating the differences allows each one’s preference to thrive.

  • Ask each person to identify his or her favourite way to work, post it on their door/wall and then urge them to work that way all week
  • Ask their co-workers to highlight what’s good about that individual’s approach

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 road blocks. 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 on 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 for 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 blame.

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:

  1. Positives about the Idea
  2. Pluses or Potentials of the idea
  3. Concerns, expressed beginning with the stem “How might we?”

It takes discipline to respond to an idea positively every time, so practice, practice, practice. The benefit? Each time one finds the positive in another person’s point of view or idea there is greater opportunity to find new ideas and creative solutions.

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.

23. Break Brains

The brain is a 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 change occurs. The goal 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
  • 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 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! Post your WCIW Event/Activity/Conversation here

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Open minds, hearts, eyes to new ideas, new decisions, new actions: one week worldwide

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