Creativity is something we all have, and with some training in how to get unblocked we can all be more creative. Organisations around the world are increasingly seeing the benefits of creative practice at work. It's easily taught, using theatre games, improvisation, photography, video, and digital storytelling, and a lot of fun.
101 ideas to help NGOs be more innovative...
A while ago I was tasked to develop ideas to help NGOs be more innovative. This list initially came from an exercise that was designed to Iillustrate how you generatemore ideas by brainstorming individually than in a group, but that's another story (and one that's well worth investigating).
So here are the 101 ideas, no censoring, as they came. See how many you can do in a week. Enjoy.
1) Have a drawing class each week
2) Do yoga every morning
3) Do meditation every day
4) Move the desks around
5) Work outdoors in the summer
6) Work on the roof
7) Take any cubicles away
8) Have a library of fun things
9) Have toys on everybody’s desk
10) Have posters from every country in the world around the walls
11) Have everyone make a lampshade
12) Have everyone paint a mug with an inspirational phase from their culture
13) Find out what creative things people like to do
14) Do a forum theatre workshop and find out what staff are afraid of
15) Do improvisation exercises at the beginning of the day
16) Have a suggestions box where people draw their feelings and others interpret them
17) Have a fund where people can buy stimulating books for the library
18) Hire a creativity and development consultant (!) to do some work with you.
19) Make digital stories about key issues
20) Work with cell-phones on
21) Flip the hierarchy in your work space
22) Make the janitor the chief exec for a day and see what ideas s/he comes up with
23) Have a chillout area with beanbags
24) Or hammocks
25) Or bamboo mats
26) Take the computers off people’s desks.
27) Turn off the internal phone system so people have to talk to each other
28) Have two weeks a year where everyone is in the office (no travel allowed for anyone)
29) Put walls of plants around a few key areas where people can sit quietly.
30) Put people on the move
31) Get people to submit a list of ten ideas they had each time they come back from a trip to the field
32) Encourage creativity and innovation with beneficiaries
33) Do an innovation audit
34) Read Tim Brown’s book – Change by Design
35) Read Augusto Boal and Paulo Freire
36) Use a fishing rod to pass things from person to person
38) Make sure everyone has nothing on their desk by the end of Friday
39) Only work with laptops
40) Use paper and pencil for first ideas, not computers
41) Buy a pack of Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategy cards http://stoney.sb.org/eno/oblique.html
42) Use them as a screensaver
43) Have a day where everyone says yes to everything
44) Learn about each other’s cultures
45) Have a day a month where one culture is dominant
46) In meetings have a cultural adviser who tells you what would or would not be acceptable in their culture.
47) Acknowledge that in some cultures it’s not acceptable to criticise.
48) Find a way to work through to this.
49) Play the game with the translator and the professor. They each speak jibberish language but translator translates for the audience.
50) Make soundscapes
51) Make music
52) Learn children’s games from different cultures
53) Make different languages dominant at different times
54) Work in a matrix
55) Take all notices using clip art down and have them drawn by hand.
56) Ban all project names longer than three words
57) Go and see an art exhibition once a month
58) Ask a gallery to arrange a tour and be taken around
59) Hire a curator to facilitate a tour of a gallery with questions that will provoke thoughts about work issues
60) Learn animation programs that start from photos and make stories about your organisation.
61) Ask people how they think this could be done
62) Agree to prototype one idea from each staff member over a month, no matter how crazy it sounds.
63) Have lunch at the same time.
64) Play a game before lunch.
65) Relax and sleep after lunch.
66) Nap when tired.
67) Hire a masseur.
68) Change the chairs of meetings each meeting.
69) Have stand up meetings.
70) Ban meetings for a week.
71) Have everyone work outside the office for a week.
72) Send everyone away for an hour to walk and come up with ideas when beginning a new project
73) Do photo walks
74) Do a transect walk of your own office
75) Burn essential oils to make the office smell different
76) Have staff bring in something that smells stimulating
77) Something that smells relaxing
78) A picture that inspires them
79) Swap them around
80) Divide the office up in different ways
81) Divide it by continent
82) Divide it by function
83) Divide it by day of the week people were born
84) Make a comic
85) Make a collage
86) Make a song
87) Make a dance
88) Invert things.
89) Have the senior management people create a funny 5 minute play about why innovation is needed.
90) Have more junior staff respond to it.
91) Have the most junior staff respond to both of them
92) Do video postcards with your beneficiaries.
94) Play charades http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charades
95) Put Jenny Holzer’s Truisms up on the wall
96) Make your own truisms
98) Give people a contemporary art gallery allowance – money and time to go
99) Have them report back how what they saw relates to a problem they’re trying to solve at work.
100) Introduce innovation ideas with a shrunken work week – if you’re convinced it’ll enable people to come up with ideas faster they should be able to work fewer hours to get things done.
101) Play the game where you thrown a plastic bottle around the room and immediately on catching it the person has to mime using it as something other than a bottle.
102) Work your way through “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” or “The Artists Way” as a group .
103) Ban the use of your top three buzzwords.