Catch Them off Guard

Bill Treasurer Posted by Bill Treasurer, Chief Encouragement Officer, Giant Leap Consulting, Inc..

Bill Treasurer is founder and Chief Encourager at Giant Leap Consulting (GLC), a Courage Building company that helps people and organizations live more courageously. Bill is the author of numerous books on leadership and courage.

Catch Them off Guard

Inspiring creativity and imagination often requires disrupting people’s mental routine and catching them off guard. For example, a large manufacturer of paper plates held a series of marketing meetings. For people who spent most of their working life centered on this commodity product, the way to reach more customers was pretty straightforward … discounting!

Any time the company wanted to increase market share, they would just pump out more Sunday coupons. But the temporary discount-driven boost in market share would often come at the expense of lower profit margins. The division’s leader needed people to be more imaginative than just defaulting to discounting all the time. He wanted people to remember that they weren’t just selling plates, cups, and napkins. They were working for a brand that was deeply connected to the family experience.

To lift people out of the rut of discount thinking, he conducted a brainstorming meeting at a beautiful community park near the corporate headquarters. The meeting was different because it was set up as a backyard barbeque. There were picnic tables with red-and-white checkered tablecloths, an outdoor grill sizzling with hotdogs and hamburgers, even outdoor games like horseshoes and tetherball. Of course there was something else too: lots of the company’s plates, cups, and napkins. They weren’t just commodities; they were an essential part of the experience. The division’s open-door leader had helped people shift their thinking away from commodities and toward values and traditions.

New ideas started to emerge quickly, such as partnering with an outdoor grill company, including summer-inspired flower designs on the borders of the plates, clever wording on the packaging, and other methods for appealing to people’s values rather than just their wallets. Someone even thought to create a website where people could swap summer recipes, an idea that could potentially connect countless individuals and rally them around the company brand.

Changing your language or going outside (literally or figuratively) are two simple ways you can shift the thinking in your work environment. However, the means you use matter less than getting people to think positively, constructively, and productively.

You can begin your thought-shifting campaign by asking yourself the following question: What are some ways that your organization typically tries to inspire creative ideas? What about the approach works well? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

Image via Pixabay

Does your team have a leader who inspires creativity? Are you a project manager trying to figure out how to lead your team to success? Contact Giant Leap at [email protected] to learn about our signature leadership workshops and much more!