January 28, 2007
Many companies have the resources in place that could amass a large amount of creative power but they fail to identify this potential. More specifically, they fail to tap into the creative capabilities of all of their employees. Let me give you a few examples to illustrate this on different ends of the spectrum.
This past year I was fortunate enough to have an eight-month co-op at a great company: GE Consumer and Industrial. The co-op itself gives students a chance to contribute to the working world as well as to start building their resume. GE is able to use the tool to get work out of individuals at a cheaper rate, but more importantly, GE uses this process as an eight-month interview and screening tool. Through the co-op process, GE is exposed to three rotations of students every year. This is amazing considering that at the site I was at there were 110 co-op positions, giving them over 300 creative students coming through their doors a year at their C&I site alone. My questions to GE are, what are you doing to capture the creativity of these students — students who obviously know what a refrigerator, dishwasher, and washer are. These students contain creative capacity beyond anyone’s wildest dream; all they need to do is tap into it. Sit down for a brainstorming session, add a link online where the co-ops could go with their fresh and new ideas, use the energy that they bring to the table to energize the whole company into creating change.
This does not even need to be done with your co-ops, but creativity can come from ANYWHERE within your organization. And not surprisingly, creativity is contagious, it improves the working environment, it gives people more energy, it creates a sense of passion around the work environment. My best example I can give to show this comes from the President of Trek, who I was fortunate enough to hear speak at a conference. He created a box where workers could go and add their ideas of how they could improve the work environment. Furthermore, he backed it up with a substantial financial reward for the individual with the best idea. He said that his best ideas came from the line workers that have been working there for over 10 years, a place many would not look for creativity within the work place. When the line workers suggestions were taken into account, they felt a new sort of energy and contribution at the work place, feelings which go along with improved workforce output and efficiency. So look around your workplace and identify places you could seek innovation from, you may be surprised at the results.
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