It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a Marketing Live episode about sparking creative ideas sparked a creative idea from the Higher Ed Live team. While listening to Melody Oldfield and Laura Shields from Oregon State University talk about ways to foster a creative work environment, we were struck by one thing in particular — their list of “10 Ways to Change the Game.”

Take the time to watch the episode or listen to the podcast because they share all kinds of great information about team building, staying fresh, and infusing personality and play into your work. But for now, we’ve broken down the list for your reading enjoyment below.

10 Ways to Change the Game

1. Get outside

The team at Oregon State says don’t stifle your creativity by staying inside. Get out on one of your beautiful campuses to do some brainstorming and have some conversations. They are big proponents of using walking meetings to solve problems.

2. Break the routine

A lot of us get stuck with weekly staff meetings in the same room, at the same time, on the same day, and people will often even sit in the same chair. Recognize when you’re in a rut and be willing to shake it up. Start by rotating the location of your meeting — it’s a great way to meet new people and explore other venues on campus. Try it for a short period of time and then change it up again.

3. Schedule the time

It takes time and to have fun. The Marketing team at Oregon State reserves time every month to recharge. Planning responsibilities rotate by team members and workshops vary from drawing your own spirit animal to taking Meyers-Briggs personality assessments. Make it clear that this isn’t “throw-away” time — it’s a scheduled time to work together and get to know each other as a team.

4. Space matters

Bold space breeds bold ideas. Where you can, find and create a space that is comfortable and welcoming. Cover your walls with whiteboard paint or magnetize walls to create inspiration boards. Whatever it is that you do, it should be clear that the space welcomes creative ideas.

5. Learn something new

At Oregon State, the team looks for ways to develop skills that they don’t already have. This means providing professional development for all team members, encouraging writers to provide feedback on design and vice versa. Take advantage of your location on a college campus and tour the athletics facilities and academic departments and labs.

6. Bring in new people

Campuses are rich with engineers, social scientists, and experts. Oftentimes when you’re faced with a marketing challenge, it’s the same experts seated at the table. Invite new people into the mix to give a fresh perspective.

7. Bring your passions to work

Sometimes having people talk about their passions sparks creative ideas. A conversation about favorite music can lead to composition for a new video. You don’t know where you’ll find the pot of gold until you let team members be themselves.

8. Follow the thread

Even if the idea seems totally crazy, follow it to see where it will lead. And don’t be afraid to pitch an idea just because it’s crazy. At Oregon State, the crazy idea to shoot off fireworks from the stadium brought in 33,000 students, faculty, staff, and families for one event.

9. Don’t be afraid to fail

Failure is often a big inhibitor for people. But if you’ve created a safe environment for your team where there is low risk, your team will be willing to take more chances. You don’t always know what will be a success, but you really won’t know until you try.

10. Commit long term

Fostering a creative environment takes time. Getting to know people takes time. Developing relationships takes time. You have to be in for the long haul. You’ll see immediate results, but the best stuff comes from the long term. It’s worth it to stick with it.

Oldfield and Shields say it best: this top 10 list isn’t rocket science and can easily be applied anywhere. See where it will take you!


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Higher Ed Live

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