With the average person thumbing through 300 feet of content every day on their social feeds, and YouTube uploads over a 30-day period totaling more than the major U.S. TV networks created in the last 30 years, how can your brand break through this never-ending feed of clutter?

It’s no secret people have short attention spans (less than a goldfish is what they say, right?).

When someone finds your content in this deluge of options, the average user decides whether or not to watch in fewer than three seconds.

Six key tactics have emerged which will greatly enhance your ability to capture and effectively engage your audiences.

1.Flip the script. When broadcast TV was king and viewership was passive, advertising often followed a story arc similar to a melodrama.  Slow lead-in built to a climax, then the big reveal and branding served as the finale.  But with today’s active audiences, you have to flip the script by first starting with a bang, showing subtle branding, followed by something unexpected, and then you must allow consumers to follow along with your story if they are interested.

2.Create franchises Once you have built your brand, do not be afraid to build   .successful campaigns.  Whether it is creating a video series or empowering a brand ambassador or influencer to craft content, once your consumer is interested, you can diversify what you do as long as it is uniquely yours and easily identifiable.  This may even lead to business partnerships and monetization.

3.C.O.D.E.: Create once, distribute everywhere. The development of great content requires resources, so re-purpose it wherever possible.  In addition to saving time and money, all of your channels will have a unified, consistent story.  Keep the look and feel and make small changes to adapt to each platform, from your website to paid media to owned social.

4.Reimagine & reuse.When you’ve invested in quality content, you should explore how you can use it in new ways, so your content can have a second or third life.  Build an asset library for future internal and external uses so you can quickly turn around projects that are engaging and on-brand.

5. Be single-minded.The beauty of short-form content is the ability to be single minded. This allows you to be laser-focused with your targeting of specific audiences who are most likely to be receptive and engaged in the message. This also allows you to more effectively tell the story without sound using supers and graphics.

6. One size does not fit all.The opportunity for effective development and distribution of content comes in all shapes and sizes. Design content that fits its environment.  Understand the difference in user intentions and behaviors on social platforms, and customize your KP’s and expectations for each platform.  A person watching a video on Instagram expects something short and sweet, while the same person watching on YouTube will have a longer attention span.

Once you master this formula for consumable content, make sure you stay true to your brand.  Consumers don’t care where content comes from, as long as it speaks to them and it exemplifies a brand’s values and purpose.  If you focus your investment and efforts on creating content that is designed for today’s sensibilities and short attention spans, you will achieve stronger impact.


Sourced from The Marketing Insider

We were all creative as children.

How can people become more creative in their everyday lives? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Christina Wallace, Author, “New to Big“, VP Growth, Bionic, Host, TLDNE, on Quora:

I believe creativity is a muscle, not a skill. That is, you get more creative by building a practice of being creative. It’s not a thing you either are or are not. (Related: I believe that’s also true of athleticism. I was told my entire childhood that I was not athletic, so I didn’t try to be. Then in my 20s I decided to try and what do you know? I ran 3 marathons, climbed Kilimanjaro, learned to ski black diamonds, etc.)

We were all creative as children: we invented friends, wrote stories, drew monsters and flowers and families on any surface we could find, and many of us growing up in the 80s and 90s learned to entertain ourselves for hours on road trips or lazy Saturday afternoons before smart phones and other technology came along to distract us. Yet as we grew up and began to focus our time and attention on a career much of that creativity fell to the side. Unless we chose careers in the arts (and I define that broadly: storytelling, design, performance of all kinds, etc.) we probably don’t get to exercise this muscle on a daily basis.

So the simplistic answer is to build a daily practice of creativity back into your life. That can look like a lot of different things. Perhaps you start every morning writing 3 pages on whatever comes to mind for (best to do this longhand, in a notebook, vs typing on a screen). This is a practice called “morning pages” that was made popular by Julia Cameron in a fantastic book called The Artist’s Way. (It’s basically canon for anyone who considers themselves to be creative.)

Of course, if writing isn’t your jam, there are other options. Take yourself on a solo date to a museum or gallery once a week with a sketchbook and draw what you see. Or keep something handy to draw on so that instead of scrolling mindless on social media when your friend is running late, you can sketch the stranger sitting at the table across from you.

Reading long-form fiction (also known as books) is one way I counter-program the steady diet of 280 character blips I ingest on Twitter all day long. I workshop new jokes at networking events and cocktail parties that aren’t particularly exciting otherwise. And I created a side hustle (my podcast, The Limit Does Not Exist) out of a desire to both connect with other creative folks and to have a format and a deadline to make new work on a regular basis.

Speaking of which, accountability is the easiest way to build a practice of creativity. Having a writing partner that you just check in with every Sunday night with your word count for the week is an incredible forcing function for you to make the time to write. Sharing designs in progress with someone whose opinion you trust helps you get things out of your head and onto paper. The challenge for probably all of us, is that the first draft of anything is only a crude approximation of what is in our heads and it can be hard to see that when we are used to being good at whatever it is that we do. But that’s the creative process. And the more you practice it, the stronger the muscle. Good luck!

This question originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter and Facebook. More questions:

Feature Image Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Sourced from Inc.

By Don Norman

Roberto Verganti and I published an article in the July 2019, Harvard Business Review on the virtues of criticism (Verganti, R., & Norman, D. (2019, July 16, 2019). Why criticism is good for creativity. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2019/07/why-criticism-is-good-for-creativity. May require registration or payment.)

Here is the basic argument

One of the most popular mantras for innovation is “avoid criticism.” The underlying assumption is that criticism kills the flow of creativity and the enthusiasm of a team. Aversion to criticism has significantly spread in the last 20 years, especially through the advocates of design thinking. (In 1999, in the ABC Nightline video “The Deep Dive,” which ignited the design thinking movement, criticism was stigmatized as negative.) In IDEO’s online teaching platform, the first rule of brainstorming is “defer judgment.” To make this rule even more practical and straightforward, others have reworded it to say: “When a person proposes an idea, don’t say, ‘Yes, but…’ to point out flaws in the idea; instead, say, ‘Yes, and…’” — which is intended to get people to add to the original idea.

We challenge this approach. It encourages design by committee and infuses a superficial sense of collaboration that leads to compromises and weakens ideas. Our view, the product of years of studies of and participation in innovation projects, is that effective teams do not defer critical reflection; they create through criticism.

The secret of criticism in innovation lies in the joint behavior of the participants. Those offering criticism must frame their points as positive, helpful suggestions. Those who are being criticized must use critiques to learn and improve their ideas. When conducted with curiosity and respect, criticism becomes the most advanced form of creativity. It can be fascinating, passionate, fun, and always inspiring. Let us combine “Yes, and” with “Yes, but” to create the constructive and positive “Yes, but, and.”

By Don Norman

Sourced from LinkedIn

By Danielle Kost

The slate of companies going public this year— PinterestSlack Technologies, and Uber, to name a few—should silence anyone who doubts the power of a bold idea.

After all, one seemingly crazy brainstorm can up end an entire industry, keeping innovation top of mind for every executive. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a coding genius in a dorm room to birth a breakthrough, says Harvard Business School Professor Teresa M. Amabile, who has studied the interplay between creativity, productivity, and innovation for more than four decades.

Amabile, who is the Baker Foundation Professor and Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration, Emerita, reflected on her research and its impact in an essay in Perspectives on Psychological ScienceEducating Leaders Who Make a Difference in the World (pdf). More recently, she discussed how artificial intelligence might enable creative breakthroughs in an Academy of Management Discoveries article, Creativity, Artificial Intelligence, and a World of Surprises.

Danielle Kost: Every executive is searching for the next big idea or strategy. Are there any techniques or approaches that people can use to stimulate their own creativity at work?

Teresa M. Amabile: Three of the components necessary for creativity reside within the individual, and one component, a conducive work environment, is external. The internal components are:

  1. Expertise. People need expertise to be creative. So, to the extent that you can continue to learn not only in your primary domain, but in other, related domains, you’ll begin to see connections that could lead to a breakthrough.
  2. Creative thinking skills. Some people are naturally able to think outside the box. But we can all learn and improve our creative thinking skills. For example, there are techniques that involve using different kinds of visual stimulation. You could go to an art museum and see what ideas emerge as you look at the art, and then try to make connections to some tricky problem that you’re trying to solve in your work. It’s also very useful to stimulate your thinking by talking to other people—brainstorming or simply getting new input on your ideas.
  3. Intrinsic motivation. This is the drive to do something primarily because you find it interesting, enjoyable, satisfying, or personally challenging. Our research has shown that, unfortunately, a non-conducive work environment can undermine intrinsic motivation. Your immediate manager plays a huge role in establishing your work environment for creativity, the extent to which your creativity will be stimulated or diminished.

Kost: When managers want to inspire more creativity in their teams, what should they not do?

Amabile: Unfortunately, for many managers, behaviors that undermine creativity are more natural than behaviors that stimulate it. Many of the management approaches that people learned through decades of management education—especially in the 1950s and 60s and 70s—can really stifle creativity. These are things that managers should really try to avoid. In fact, to the extent possible, they should try to do the opposite:

Excessive constraint. Among destroyers of creativity, or “creativity killers,” as I call them, excessive constraint is probably number one. When people are supposed to be coming up with new ideas or solving complex problems in new ways, they need to be given a lot of autonomy. But it’s very hard for some managers to change their command-and-control management style, even when it’s creativity and innovation that they’re after.

Meaningless work. People tend to do their most creative work when they find deep meaning in what they’re doing—when they feel that their work really contributes to something that matters. If people lack that meaning, it’s very hard for them to stay intrinsically motivated and creative. Many managers don’t realize how necessary it is to help people understand the importance of their work.

A status quo bias. Some upper managers pay lip service to creativity and innovation, but they’re clearly oriented toward maintaining the status quo. They’re suspicious of new ideas. Sometimes the organization has a culture where new ideas are evaluated harshly, and people see that. It speaks much louder than any corporate mission statement.

Risk aversion. Creative work requires an environment where there’s what my colleague Amy Edmondson would call psychological safety—an environment where people feel free to speak up with new ideas even if those ideas may be far out. They have to feel free to call out mistakes and errors in their own and other people’s work, with the understanding that people are not going to get shot down because they tried something new that failed. When you’re trying to be innovative, you’re going to end up with a lot of failures. And if you don’t, you’re really not trying hard enough.

If you find that you’re in a creativity-stifling environment, you may need to transfer to a team that works under a different manager or has a different set of colleagues. You could look for assignments that you find more intrinsically interesting. You might ultimately think about changing organizations, if you find that the one you’re in is not allowing your creativity to really achieve its potential.

Kost: Artificial intelligence techniques and tools are influencing how companies conduct business and make decisions. How do these technologies affect creativity?

Amabile: It depends on how we use these approaches and technologies. If we view them as a way to support our own limited intelligence, it can be very positive. Each one of us has great brain power, but it’s limited in certain ways. It’s very hard for us to look at massive amounts of data and detect patterns, for example, but machines can, if we tell them what to look for.

So combining a machine’s ability to recognize patterns with our own ability to interpret them should be a tremendous boon to our creativity. However, if we feel threatened by the machines that we’re working with, like they are going to take over the work that we do, that’s likely to stifle that creativity.

Feature Image Credit: Teresa Amabile discusses the roots of creativity, how to achieve more of it, and combining it with artificial intelligence. iStockphoto

By Danielle Kost

Sourced from Forbes

By Jeff DeGraff Ph.D.

Here’s how to build your creative muscle.

When it comes to thinking creatively, people’s abilities always have room for improvement. However, it’s unlikely you’re going to become a creative genius like Einstein or Mozart without some natural talent.

Is everyone creative? Sure they are, but in very different ways and to varying degrees. Our democratic longing to make everyone and everything equal has led us to make creative greatness indistinguishable from an act of personal expression. What is lacking is a meaningful appreciation of the different levels of creativity and how we can use them as steps for increasing our own creative potential.

Below are the five levels and types of creativity, from the easiest to the most difficult to master, along with suggestions for building creative muscle:

Mimetic Creativity

Mimesis is a term passed down to us from the Ancient Greeks meaning to imitate or mimic. This is the most rudimentary form of creativity. To improve mimetic creativity, travel to new places and meet new people. Be sure to look for patterns and benchmarks, as well as indicators of success or failure so that you have good ideas about what really works and what doesn’t and why.

Biosociative Creativity

Biosociative is a term coined by the novelist Arthur Koestler in his celebrated book The Art of Creation to describe how our conscious mind, when relaxed, can connect rational with intuitive thoughts to produce eureka moments. Biosociative creativity occurs when a familiar idea is connected to an unfamiliar one to produce a novel hybrid. Brainstorming is an excellent example of biosociative creativity. You can find a variety of brainstorming methods to boost biosociative creativity on my website.

Analogical Creativity

Analogical creativity uses analogies to transfer information that we believe we understand in one domain, the source, to help resolve a challenge in an unfamiliar area, the target. In essence, analogies are bridges that allow our cognitive processes to quickly transport clusters of information from the unknown to the known, and back again. Analogies can also be used to disrupt habit-bound thinking to make way for new ideas. You can develop your analogical creativity through the “imaginary friend” role storming method whereby you imagine what someone might say or do if faced with a particular challenge.

Narratological Creativity

At its essence, narratological creativity is the art of storytelling. Our personal stories are perhaps the ultimate use of narratological creativity as we invent and reinvent the story of our life. In this way something that is deeply personal becomes allegorical or of mythic significance. You can improve your narratological creativity by practicing the art of storyboarding or by engaging in scenario making to project potential courses of action.

Intuitive Creativity

This final and most challenging level of creativity has often been promoted to the realm of spiritual and wisdom traditions. This is where creativity becomes bigger and possibly beyond us; it transcends our individuality. There are several methods for freeing and emptying the mind – meditation, yoga and chanting to name a few. The basic idea is to distract and relax the mind to create a flow state of consciousness where ideas come easily. The approaches to developing intuitive creativity are too numerous to chronicle here; however, free writing is a straightforward way to connect us with our intuitive self by simply observing what flows out of the pen or the tapping of the keys.

As with any learned ability, you have to practice. Even creative geniuses practice all the time. This article from Fortune magazine is a good place to find out more. This video about the five levels of creativity may also be helpful:

Originally published on Quora.


By Jeff DeGraff Ph.D.

Sourced from Psychology Today

By Caroline Forsey

Maya Angelou once said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

Oftentimes, this couldn’t feel further from the truth. Imagine, for instance, the moment you finish your quarterly marketing campaign. You’re ecstatic — the campaign launched without a hitch, and you’ve already seen impressive conversion results.

But you’re also exhausted. You feel you’ve used up so much of your creative energy already — how will you ever come up with a new idea for the next quarter?

In these instances, it can feel like creativity is finite, and maybe even rare. But as marketers, we’re tasked with both the burden and the joy of using creativity to succeed in our roles every day.

Fortunately, there are tactics you can employ to begin building the right habits to become more prolific in your role. Henneke Duistermaat, writer and creator of Enchanting Marketing, created the following hand-drawn infographic to help boost creativity, improve focus, and minimize self-doubt to become a better, more creative marketer. Take a look.

Free Download: How to Use Photos in Marketing


By Caroline Forsey

Sourced from HubSpot

By Robert Nelson

Industry and educators are agreed: The world needs creativity. There is interest in the field, lots of urging but remarkably little action. Everyone is a bit scared of what to do next. On the question of creativity and imagination, they are mostly uncreative and unimaginative.

Some of the paralysis arises because you can’t easily define . It resists the measurement and strategies that we’re familiar with. Indisposed by the simultaneous vagueness and sublimity of creative processes, educators seek artificial ways to channel imaginative activity into templates that end up compromising the very creativity they celebrate.

For example, creativity is often reduced to problem-solving. To be sure, you need imagination to solve many curly problems and creativity is arguably part of what it takes. But is far from the whole of creativity; and if you focus creative thinking uniquely on problems and solutions, you encourage a mechanistic view—all about scoping and then pin-pointing the best fit among options.

It might be satisfying to create models for such analytical processes but they distort the natural, wayward flux of imaginative thinking. Often, it is not about solving a problem but seeing a problem that no one else has identified. Often, the point of departure is a personal wish for something to be true or worth arguing or capable of making a poetic splash, whereupon the mind goes into imaginative overdrive to develop a robust theory that has never been proposed before.

For teaching purposes, problems are an anxious place to cultivate creativity. If you think of anyone coming up with an idea—a new song, a witty way of denouncing a politician, a dance step, a joke—it isn’t necessarily about a problem but rather a blissful opportunity for the mind to exercise its autonomy, that magical power to concatenate images freely and to see within them a bristling expression of something intelligent.

That’s the motive behind what scholars now call “Big C Creativity”: i.e. your Bach or Darwin or Freud who comes up with a major original contribution to culture or science. But the same is true of everyday “small C creativity” that isn’t specifically problem-based.

Relishing the independence of the mind is the basis for naturally imaginative activity, like humour, repartee, a gestural impulse or theatrical intuition, a satire that extrapolates someone’s behaviour or produces a poignant character insight.

A dull taming

Our way of democratising creativity is not to see it in inherently imaginative spontaneity but to identify it with instrumental strategising. We tame creativity by making it dull. Our way of honing the faculty is by making it goal-oriented and compliant to a purpose that can be managed and assessed.

Alas, when we make creativity artificially responsible to a goal, we collapse it with prudent decision-making, whereupon it no longer transcends familiar frameworks toward an unknown fertility.

We pin creativity to logical intelligence as opposed to fantasy, that somewhat messy generation of figments out of whose chaos the mind can see a brilliant rhyme, a metaphor, a hilarious skip or roll of the shoulders, an outrageous pun, a thought about why peacocks have such a , a reason why bread goes stale or an astonishing pattern in numbers arising from a formula.

Because creativity in essence is somewhat irresponsible, it isn’t easy to locate in syllabus and impossible to teach in a culture of learning outcomes. Learning outcomes are statements of what the student will gain from the subject or unit that you’re teaching. Internationally and across the tertiary system, they take the form of: “On successful completion of this subject, you will be able to …” Everything that is taught should then support the outcomes and all assessment should allow the students to demonstrate that they have met them.

After a lengthy historical study, I have concluded that our contemporary education systematically trashes creativity and unwittingly punishes students for exercising their imagination. The structural basis for this passive hostility to the imagination is the grid of learning outcomes in alignment with delivery and assessment.

It might always be impossible to teach creativity but the least we can do for our students is make education a safe place for imagination. Our academies are a long way from that haven and I see little encouraging in the apologias for creativity that the literature now spawns.

My contention is that learning outcomes are only good for uncreative study. For education to cultivate creativity and imagination, we need to stop asking students anxiously to follow demonstrable proofs of learning for which is a liability.

Feature Image: We pin creativity to logical intelligence as opposed to fantasy. Credit: Shutterstock 

Explore further: The secret to creativity – according to science

By Robert Nelson

Sourced from PHYS.ORG


Creativity is a process that cannot be forced but can be cultivated and allowed. Creativity must be allowed for the creation of innovative products and design of everyday things. You can stir up your creativity by getting serious about pen and paper again or you can also use apps as a guide.

Start keeping a journal too. Postpone judgment when you are in your creative mood and start allowing more silence in your life. Don’t put pressure on yourself, avoid creative deadlines when you can. Begin to ask questions about everyday products, ideas etc.

In the words of Masaru Ibuka–Creativity comes from looking for the unexpected and stepping outside your own experience.

These are 45 amazing creativity resources that can stir up your creative instinct. If you need inspiration and motivation to take your product or business to the next-level, you will find these resources, ideas, projects, designs, videos, predictions and innovations useful.

1. Co.Design— Fast Company’s Co.Design, where business and design collide.

2. Designbuzz — Design ideas and concepts.

3. House of the Future — Living Tomorrow’s vision of the house of the future.

4. Productivity Future Vision — Microsoft’s vision of the future.

5. Springwise — Your essential fix of entrepreneurial ideas.

6. Big Think — Blogs, articles and videos from the world’s top leaders and thinkers.

7. PSFK — A go-to source for ideas and inspiration.

8. The World in 2030 — Dr. Michio Kaku talks computers, medicine, jobs, lifestyle.

9. Wrist-Worm Techsessories — A video compilation by Trend Hunter.

10. DesignTaxi — Design, Art, Photography, Advertising, Technology, and Social Media.

11. VisualJournalism — 80% of the news in infographics.

12. trendwatching.com — Scans the globe for consumer trends, insights and innovations.

13. IdeaMensch — A community of people with ideas.

14. Concept Bug — Product design in the tech world. Forecasting the future.

15. Design Milk —F eaturing architectural designs, and modern house designs and technology.

16. Inkling — Prediction markets, idea evaluation, crowd forecasting and data insights.

17. Yanko Design — Modern industrial design news.

18. Life in 2050 — A discussion of almost-tangible realities from labs around the world.

19. Icon — Gives you a quick way to tap your crowd for ideas, knowledge and feedback.

20. Brainrack — Out of the box innovation that connects students with organizations.

21. 99U— -Insights on making ideas happen.

22. The 99 Percent — Insights on making ideas happen.

23. Get Addicted To — Daily mix of creative culture.

24. Creative Bloq — Daily inspiration for creative people.

25. TheCoolist — Web magazine about design, gadgets and more.

26. One Billion Minds — An amazing new way to discover and support innovation.

27. Visualizing.org — Data visualizations, challenges, community.

28. Fancy — Part store, blog, magazine and wish-list.

29. Cool Hunting — Highlighting creativity and innovation in design and technology.

30. FlowingData — Data visualization, infographics and statistics.

31. Paul Higgins — Futurist interested in technology.

32. Glen Hiemstra — Founder of Futurist.com, speaker, author, consultant.

33. Core77 — Industrial design magazine.

34. CoolBusinessIdeas — A blog that highlights promising new ideas around the world.

35. Trend Hunter — Technology trend spotting community fueled by a network of curious people.

36. TrendsNow — Future trends magazine.

38. Visua.ly — Infographics and data visualizations.

39. InnoCentive — Organizations can solve key problems through crowd sourcing.

40. Information Aesthetics — Data visualization and information design.

41. Bless this Stuff — Tech to drool about, for men.

42. Visual Complexity — A visual exploration of mapping complex networks.

43. oobject — Visual lists of man-made objects.

44. Brian David Johnson — Intel futurist, author and speaker.

45. Ray Kurzweil — Author, inventor and futurist.


By Robby Brumberg

Your brain is three pounds’ worth of imagination fuel, but sometimes the tank goes dry.

If you write, it’s an epic, daily struggle to keep pumping out fresh ideas. We communicators also must juggle—every single day—the needs of diverse, demanding, sometimes draining audiences. It’s easy to get frustrated and depleted.

Amid a steady stream of bland assignments, finicky readers (and executives) and the constant search for inspiration, what’s the best way to keep the creative wick lit?

Here are six outside-the-box ways to spark the creative pistons and get the mental wheels turning:1. Fix something. Are there certain mundane tasks around the house that you’ve farmed out to “experts?”

Whether it’s changing a tire, repairing a deck, building a fort, mending a fence, hanging a door or fixing a toilet, tinkering is an easy way to boost dopamine, and fixing something also enhances creativity.

Embarking upon DIY repairs forces you to use different parts of your brain. Writers tend to be right-brained artistic types; sometimes it helps to flex the other cerebral hemisphere that’s more associated with logic, math and reading boring instruction manuals. Pick a project, watch a how-to video, and rejuvenate your creativity.

(Pro tip: If you do try fixing the toilet, make sure you watch through the entire how-to video—especially to the part where you flush before replacing the fill valve.)

Image result for flooded toilet gif

2. Read “The Chronicles of Narnia.” When’s the last time you read for pleasure?

Writers often read all day long for work, which leaves little time or eye strength for pleasure reading. Unfortunately, writers must be avid readers to improve.

If you’re feeling creatively dry or depleted, let C.S. Lewis’ classic seven-volume series transport you to the magical, wonderful land of Narnia. Far from being “embarrassing,” revisiting childhood books through adult eyes can reignite the sparks of joy, whimsy and adventure that adulthood tends to snuff out.

As the man himself wrote: “One day, you will be old enough to start reading fairytales again.” Perhaps you are old enough now.

Image result for narnia aslan gif

3. Attend a religious service. Humans have an innate desire to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. If you’ve long avoided scratching this spiritual itch—or even if you’ve lost the faith—make a pilgrimage to your local church, temple, mosque or enigmatic cave monastery to soak up the good vibes.

At the very least, you’ll probably get a doughnut and coffee out of the deal. At best, you’ll get a rush of mindful, soul-stirring creativity.

4. Find your roots. Americans, especially, are not known for honoring—or even knowing the names of—our forebears. That’s a shame.

Don’t let our individualistic, forward-thinking culture (or a potentially shameful family history) prevent you from learning about your ancestors. Piecing together a genealogy opens up an educational rabbit trail that will surely enliven your imagination.

Who were the first people in your family who came to America? What were their lives like? Do you have any presidents, queens, conquistadors or notorious pirates in your line?

Traveling abroad apparently boosts creativity, too, so bonus points if you can travel to your land of origin.

5. Attend trivia night. Find a reputable establishment that hosts weekly trivia contests, and fuel up on important knowledge. Who knew that wombats poop cubes?

Fun, zany, obscure facts are rich fodder for content. Every trivia night question is a potential blog post or article. If you’re a freelancer, ask your accountant about writing off that trivia night bar tab as work-related “market research.”

6. Ask kids random questions. If you ever seek truthful—or hilarious—answers to life’s big questions, ask a child. If you’re not sure what to write about this week, ask a group of 7-year-olds to blurt out the first things that come to mind. Tell Tommy and Suzy about an assignment you’ve been putting off, and maybe you’ll glean some fresh ideas.

It’s true that kids say the darnedest things. They also have a knack for saying (sometimes shouting) the most interesting, jarringly insightful things. Don’t ever underestimate the mighty, unrestrained creative power of little ones. Sometimes, it takes the mind of a child to help you break out of a creative slump.

(Image via)

By Robby Brumberg


Sourced from Ragan’s PR Daily

If you want to create brilliant products and solutions, you should hire the best geniuses, give them an environment to flourish, then do what you can to keep them, right? Tim Sanders says it’s what business leaders naturally think—but it’s the wrong approach.

His research shows brilliant solutions aren’t born from lone geniuses. They’re developed by diverse teams. And today’s teams aren’t what you’re probably thinking.

Sanders is a technology pioneer. He was on the ground floor of the quality movement, the launch of the mobile phone industry, and the birth of the world wide web.

In his presentation at Upwork’s Work Without Limits™ Executive Summit, Sanders explains how companies solve tough problems by focusing on collaboration. Here are highlights from his presentation.

Collaboration is the new teamwork

Many people think the hit Pixar movie, Toy Story, was a great idea that came from genius creatives. But Pixar CEO Ed Catmull clarifies Toy Story wasn’t genius, it was 1,000 problems solved.

Toy Story was the first movie ever made on a computer. The team faced so many technical challenges during its first few months that Disney wanted to shut the project down. Pixar prevailed by solving each problem through lean, diverse teams called the brain trust.

Brain trusts are centered around collaboration. Teams are made up of several people from different functions. This diversity gets people out of their siloed perspectives.

Then everyone works together in a sharing environment where anyone can say anything. Ideas can come from anywhere. If they require outside experts, they reach out to their freelancer community.

Pixar believes teams are more important than ideas, says Sanders.

He paraphrases Catmull’s thoughts: “You can give a perfect idea to a group of knuckle heads and they will screw it up every single time. But you can give a highly problematic, over ambitious idea to the right team, and they will improve it and bring it to life.”

Eliminate false constraints

Collaboration creates rapid problem solving. Because when you bring people together, especially in lean and diverse teams, you create an environment where everyone reveals what they know. They’re willing to come together at the information level to do joint work. This enables companies to solve blind spots like false constraints.

Sanders recalls a stunning example of false constraints during his role as chief solutions officer at Yahoo. While in a meeting with Yahoo’s co-founder and CEO Jerry Yang, they listened to two entrepreneurs pitch an SMS-based idea. The entrepreneurs wanted to create a short messaging service using 140 characters.

Yang leaned over to Sanders saying the idea will never work. Years before, Yahoo bought a company for $400 million based on the same idea. But the service never took. Yang’s conclusion was that people want longer messaging.

The entrepreneurs they denied ended up founding Twitter. Sanders warns that sometimes, organizations become obsolete when they’re in a leadership silo where no one tells you things have changed.

Collaboration in lean, diverse teams can help you avoid that. What’s more…

Collaboration fattens the bottom line

Sanders says over nine out of 10 top sales and marketing organizations make collaboration part of their culture’s DNA. Individuals from cross functions come together to either win a big account, save a critical account, or launch a breakthrough product.

Sanders cites a Miller Heiman Institute study of what they called World Class Sales and Marketing Organizations: Those who collaborate outperform their rivals in key revenue KPIs by double digits.

The study further notes when you bring a second perspective into a meeting, your chance of moving forward increases by 50%. If you add a third perspective, your chances of moving forward with the next play goes up to 100%.

How’s that possible? Because when you bring in everyone who has a stake in the outcome, they work hard to keep the promise and create mutually beneficial solutions.

Sanders adds a caveat: balance teams with the right number of people. Having too many perspectives can slow progress.

Teamwork 2.0

Among the companies Sanders studied, they all have one thing in common: proximity. This enables them to have face to face, high levels of communication. From these interactions, they build trust, empathy, and stronger relationships. Think of it as teamwork 1.0.

Teamwork 2.0 involves collaborating with remote workers. At Sanders’s company, Deeper Media, 90% of their talent either works remotely or is a freelancer.

Today, technology enables organizations and individuals to work differently. “Proximity, much like premise computing, is moving to the cloud,” says Sanders. “The right talent may not live in your market, or want to live there to join your organization.”

Researcher John Seely Brown said the future of enterprise is extended beyond geographical constraints. The business leader of today must learn how to collaborate with remote teams.

Tips for collaborating across time zones

The two biggest challenges with a remote or distributed team are: communication quality and the ability to build relationships. “If you still use email, it’s like using index cards and glue sticks to run your applicant tracking system. E-mail is not how you build relationships,” says Sanders. For more effective collaboration, Sanders suggests these three tips:

Favor visual communication

When you use linear technology like phone and email, there’s no screen sharing, no human sharing. People feel divided and like they’re being delegated to. When you use video collaboration tools, people feel united and more motivated. And it helps people care about the people they work with.

Phone conference calls aren’t effective because people usually work on other things during these calls. As a result, these meetings usually end with the issues still left unresolved. Sanders cites a study where participants reported teams who met over video got the job done 90% of the time. As opposed to 50% for email or phone users.

Show up prepared

Don’t throw people into a room and toss out ideas. At least two days before a meeting, send everyone a project brief. The brief should state the problem, the opportunity, what’s in place now, and how it’s working. Then give everyone an assignment. Keep conversations very idea based. Make it clear you expect collaboration from all participants.

Get the right tools (and lots of them)

Many online collaboration tools are easy to use and some are free. For most teams, the basics should include:

  • a project management software like Basecamp or JIRA
  • video conferencing tools like Google Hangouts or Skype
  • online document sharing like Dropbox or Google Docs

Promote individual growth

No matter where your collaboration partner is located, you can’t work with people you don’t care about deeply. Sanders concludes, “Love, in the business sense, is when you devote yourself to promote growth in every person you do business with. Not just your top performer who makes you look good. Our ability to use high telepresence tools like video allows us to make those super human connections that give us mentorship opportunities, real connections and bonds, and the ability to show empathy.”

By Brenda Do 

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Sourced from Business 2 Community