We Asked, You Answered: Creativity Boosts

National Creativity Day is May 30. In honor of that, we asked readers to share tactics or methods they find most effective in boosting their team’s creativity and collaboration.

Staff can get stuck in a rut or feel like they have no time to be creative because there’s work that just needs to get done. To overcome that, associations should encourage their teams to make time for brainstorming, creativity, and idea sharing.

From structured brainstorming sessions to sticking ideas on a wall, read on for some ideas and tactics from your fellow association pros.

Lisa Lockwood

Membership Engagement Manager, TAPPI

Two things: Having brainstorming sessions, but with structured agendas, time limits, and making sure that all stakeholders are represented. And always start from “yes” with new ideas. Secondly, it is important to review processes and results after the fact, then continue to build on successes rather than throwing everything out because one or two things didn’t go quite right.

Beth Stinson

VP, Education Operations, ARTBA

Gathering a team together in our glass-walled conference room and handing out Post-It Notes and colored markers to everyone. We then put up the problem/idea/project on a slide or flipchart. We may have a little discussion beforehand to narrow or expand the scope. Next, everyone writes down as many ideas as they can think of on the notes and sticks them on the wall. This phase has a time limit—10 minutes or so.

The idea is to just get as many ideas out of your head as possible. After the ideas are stuck on the wall, everyone walks around and reads them. Everyone is empowered to move the notes around on the wall, grouping similar ideas or themes together. I have found this exercise fun as well as enlightening. After we group the notes together, we have a solid starting point for whatever needs to come next.

Rebecca Phoenix

HR Director, Better Business Bureau

Brainstorming solutions without judgement or evaluation of ideas until the idea flow dries up. Then, discuss the ideas and allow for yet a new idea to emerge from the discussion. Outlaw “But we tried that before, and it didn’t work.” History can be shared, but not in a way that shuts people down. The group’s leader should also be a silent observer because their power and opinion can shut people down.

Alan DeYoung

Executive Director/CEO, Wisconsin EMS Association

We have an open environment where ideas are always welcome. I believe I have been able to create an environment that allows this because I like to come up with thousands of ideas myself, and I try to find the issues or “poke holes” in my own ideas, which shows others that it’s OK to do that as well to make sure we all come up with the best ideas.

Marcy Fortnow

Team Development Facilitator, Engaging Play, LLC

I use games and play to inspire creativity. Playful facilitation allows teams to approach communication, connection, and collaboration differently and in a much more impactful and “sticky” way.


Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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