Encourage Graffiti

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Want a simple way to foster a culture of innovation and find out who has hidden strengths? Allow people to draw on the walls.

One thing that works particularly well for our firm when we are looking for new insights, or ways to tweak a product or service offering, is to paper the walls of a room with flip chart sheets. We write thought-starters and headlines that relate directly to the challenge at hand. For a vacuum project, we might post headlines like “things that pick stuff up,” or “the cleanest surfaces in your house.”

Then we ask everyone—no matter where they are in the organization, or what their title—to drop by the room a few times and have some fun. Build on others’ ideas. Cut out pictures. Draw. Make connections.

Once the walls are filled, schedule mini-meetings where you moderate a discussion among small groups of participants to take the ideas further.

Here’s the best part. You won’t have to sell this idea. The room becomes a magnet. You will quickly get new ideas and you’ll see who has the ability to connect, build, and reinvent. This costs nothing but time, and often results in astoundingly fresh thinking.

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