Shared curly fries eaten out of paper wrappers on a tray. Factor in the tiny plastic-formed table and uncomfortable molded chairs, and you have the setting that began an exchange of inspiring ideas, dynamic goals and excitement about new ventures. This exchange of ideas and inspiration a regular event - call it Fry Friday, until well...... it stopped. The ideas stopped flowing and the fry place closed down. 

Enter Cheesecake-Monday. Yup, again maybe an off-the-nutrition-chart item, but maybe that's what it takes for creativity - to step away from the charts and graphs and be inspired. My Cheesecake-Mondays meetings are the jump start to my week where I meet with an inspiring colleague to talk about our writing, ideas and presentation work,  and to share what we call the "one good thing".  We set a goal together of finding one good thing each week that we report back on the next Monday.  It creates an awareness and mindfulness tone to our weeks. Sharing the "one good things" we find opens us up to finding more.  It's not a new idea and we are making the most of the concept. 

5 ways to use Fry-Friday and Cheesecake-Monday to jump start your team creativity

  1. Take the meeting out of the boardroom and get off the phone.  Choose a setting that allows the team to leave the laptops and whiteboards for awhile
  2. Give your meeting a designation, a label.  Make it your own. Be lofty or silly, The Cinnamon Bun Summit, Spaghetti Factory Spark, Tuesdays with Susie, whatever you choose. 
  3. Set a time limit for an hour at the most. This creates an urgency to walk right in, sit right down and let the party begin
  4. Don't talk about the weather. Templates, agendas, standardized topics and reporting can stifle the creativity we want to express. Save those types of meetings for what they are for - measuring results, setting business goals, etc.  The stuff that keep the wheels on the bus. What we are looking for here is keeping the bus interesting for the team to ride in. 
  5. Leave with a call to action. Much like the”gratitude and one good thing” calls to action, challenge your team to be creative in what they bring back next week. You are going to get the stats, the department updates anyway, so ask the team to bring back not only one good thing, but what they are going to do with it.
Team creativity is terribly important to team productivity. Creativity is not just about having fun and painting the bus purple, it's what helps find solutions, build results and engage. Part of Fry Fridays is in knowing that when the fry place closes down, it's time to find new outlets to jump start creativity.  There's nothing worse than fries that have been under the heat lamp way too long, and stale creativity is pretty much the same. Keep your team moving.  Be creative and you'll find inspiration to build great things upon, and you’ll have more fun. Now, let's paint the bus.  

I got the most delightful gift this week from a team member!  It is a Poo Pig - a pig made out of poo and clay.  What makes it amazing (besides the poo humor that turns us all into giggling 9 year olds), is the card that he sent with the pig.

He wrote that he thought I could use a reminder that we all poo - we all step in poo from time to time, and we all sometimes feel mired in poo or nasty situations. He told me to remember the good thing about poo is that it's fertilizer. 

In fact, the directions on my Poo Pig's tag tell me to put him in the garden where he will nourish my plants for two years. 

This reminded me of a team I was involved with where the leader was given an award of an engraved hockey puck.  As he showed it to us, he started a tradition he called pass the puck where each meeting the puck would be awarded to a team member in recognition of something positive. The recipient kept the puck until the next meeting where it would be passed along. Such a simple little thing and yet it built team strength and recognition. It was also fun.

I propose that in addition to passing the puck for positive recognition, we should be cognizant of team dynamics and pass the Poo Pig in times of challenge.  Just an idea......

5 things about passing on the Poo Pig to build team strength
  1. Poo Pigs acknowledge that sometimes poo happens - we are human 
  2. Poo Pigs allow empathy rather than exclusion
  3. Poo Pigs can fertilize team strength to build a stronger more productive team 
  4. Poo Pigs can be shared to open dialogue and should be passed around as needed 
  5. Poo Pigs are funny and we all need to smile and laugh 

Thanks, my friend for the wonderful gift.  I intend to pass it on! 

I've been away from here for awhile writing.  Milestones along the way are the finished short stories and chapters. Reaching these milestones is painful.  Sometimes gut wrenchingly painful. 

I call it the edit that never ends as I work with on a  story of 2340 words that have endless possibility.  The possibility to fear,hurt, uplift, motivate, and feel. To allow the reader to experience the very essence of my story. 

The edit is brutal and can be crushing.  After all, a ton of work has gone into this piece of work that has significant meaning to me. Crushing, but also rewarding to find the right words and phrases to have others "get" what my message is.

The dreaded letter of expectations that we so carefully craft for our employees in order to correct, change, re-build and ensure compliance is another story that should be crafted with more than a cursory edit. The object of a letter of expectations should NOT be to punish  the employee, tear them apart emotionally, and force them into a position of submission.  There are other steps for that. The letter of expectations should be clear, the writer should edit away the confusion and use clear identification of issues, assessment of issues and management of those issues.  

Like the 2340 words I am using to craft my story, the words and meanings of a letter of expectation need to be clear.  Letters of expectation are powerful tools and can get results if used in a constructive way, but if it is read as an "I just don't like you and want you to go away" message, you may want to edit your work. And edit it again. Make sure the message the reader gets is what you are truly trying to say.