If you want to remain creative and open to innovation, the worst thing you can do is work yourself into a rut, where you're not engaging in new experiences in the world. So we try to break up the routine--to almost train people how to change.
Some activities are up to employees--we have a bocce court outside, and people break up the day with 15-minute tournaments. On Tuesdays, we have music jams at the end of the day. But then there are total surprises. The other week, we called a meeting, shut down the whole agency, and took everyone next door to a local dive club to have a free drink and dance for the lunch hour. People were rolling their eyes in the beginning but left laughing.
There are quieter diversions, too. Our office is in the old public library in Portland, Maine, and we've asked all our employees to select the 10 most inspiring books in their life. Ayn Rand shows up a bunch, but there are also design books, Mark Twain, Longfellow, Pablo Neruda, a book on stars, and Picasso's sketches. Now we have a reading library with more than 1,000 books to sign out.
With all these disruptions, the first rule is, We want to make everyone leave the phone, leave the computer, and be in the real world, in the moment. The second is, We want to force you a smidge outside your comfort zone--get you to open your mind. And the third rule is, It should be kind of fun. Because isn't that what it's all about?
As told to Inc. senior writer Burt Helm.