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3 Ways to Spark Employee Creativity

Running low on fresh ideas? That's nothing an improv class--or a few beers--can't fix

Need a jolt of creativity at your company? Take a lesson from these three companies that have come up with clever ways to spark new ideas.

Improv Classes

Method, a San Francisco-based maker of cleaning products, offers employees training in improv acting--not to check the box on some management fad but to give them an understanding of how small performance details such as stance, breath, or mindset can help improve creative thinking. Method also attempts to shift employees' perspectives by requiring everyone in the company to serve as the office receptionist for a day, all in an effort to keep people "weird, creative, and humble."

Brain Breaks

The New Jersey-based startup Caktus makes the Hug, a device that keeps tabs on how much water you drink. But once a month, the company's four Finnish co-founders set aside 24 hours to let their brains run wild. They'll start brainstorming over a drink (or a few) on Thursday afternoon and give themselves until Friday evening to come up with a dirty prototype--or a really good blueprint. "It's just a way to give our brains room to breathe," says co-founder Panu Keski-Pukkila.

Hackathons

At Animoto, a New York City-based startup that converts photos and video clips into online movies, money is on the line in a quarterly hackathon, meant to spark new ideas from the company's 65 employees. Cash prizes of $500 are given to the winning teams in three areas: most technically challenging, most useful, and people's choice. A recent winner improved the service's synchronization of images and music, a fix that will be included in an upcoming software release.

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