How to spark creativity

How to spark creativity

Asking powerful questions helps you to spark creative thinking and innovative problem solving. Just asking 3 simple words is all it takes – “How might we…?”

Many successful businesses from P&G to Google to Amazon are known for using this simple ‘HMW’ approach to tackle difficult challenges. Here is how each of the 3 words can be powerful in spurring creative problem solving:

“How”  assumes that solutions do exist, and at the same time you offer the group confidence that they can creatively identify and solve the issue. Start by asking broad questions like “How might we improve X?” or “How might we find a new way to accomplish Y?”

“Might”  means you can put ideas out there that might work or might not – either way, you’ll learn something useful. You will open up more possibilities and create more options if you avoid the use of words like “can” or “should” which imply judgement and close down ideas.

“We”  is a sign that you’re going to work as a team and build on each other’s ideas to find creative solutions together.

This “How might we” question approach works best when applied to ambitious yet achievable challenges.

So the next time you’re feeling stuck and looking for some creative solutions, simply ask “How might we… improve X, solve Y, or achieve Z goal?’

Use these tips to stimulate creative problem solving to tackle your next challenge.

How to motivate others

How to motivate others

A surprising insight into what motivates us at work. Daniel Pink’s book “Drive” is in the Superhero Success Library and highly recommended if you manage people. Watch this video for the key insights.

How to be more productive

How to be more productive

It may seem counter intuitive, yet helping others can actually make you more motivated and productive at work.

According to Wharton Business School professor Adam Grant, the greatest untapped source of motivation at work is a sense of service to others. When you focus on how you can contribute rather than just thinking about ways to help yourself, you’ll feel good about your work, get more done, and have a fan club of appreciative people you’ve helped along the way. Ultimately you’ll be more productive, successful and happier.

Sounds great! Yet helping others can sometimes seem like a big, time-consuming task. So here are some simple approaches you can take to help others that won’t leave you overloaded, stressed out or needing to be a martyr.

1 Give 5 minute favours

Grant’s book Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success suggests giving a few minutes to help someone in a way that’s a small commitment to you, but could be of large benefit to someone else. Stopping to help someone with directions, walking to the other end of the office to personally check in with a workmate or writing a thank you note all just take a few minutes of your time yet help others in exponentially positive ways.

What could you do for a workmate, a friend or even a stranger, that takes less than 5 minutes?

2 Dedicate 2 hours a week to helping

Research shows that if you volunteer or help others for two hours a week, your happiness, satisfaction and self-esteem all go up a year later. This magical number of 100 hours over a year helps you to balance out giving a lot of your time to others without feeling overloaded or drained from helping.

And it’s better to cluster those activities together than to spread them out. Choose a day of the week when you are most likely able to have the time to help others. Make a conscious effort to find ways to contribute in meaningful ways. This might be doing 3 meaningful acts of kindness that help your workmates, suppliers or clients get stuff done.

3 Help in ways that are meaningful to you too

Helping others feels good and gives you energy only when you enjoy doing it and it’s done by choice. If you help others out of duty and obligation you won’t get the psychological benefits. So look for ways to help because you want you. Do things that give you the satisfaction of helping others succeed like mentoring, coaching or even introducing helpful contacts across your network.

Use these simple tips to help someone today. It will make you happier and more productive!

Interested to know more? Read this New York Times article Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead?
How to be happier at work & life

How to be happier at work & life

As a MAD Office Hero you know the positive impact a simple “thank you” can have. Research shows that when you thank your workmates regularly they will be more motivated, happier and accomplish more.

Did you also know that you personally benefit too? Psychologists have scientifically proven that the greatest contributing factor to overall happiness in your life is the amount of gratitude you show.

Not convinced? Then watch this 7-minute touching video to get the full story.

Practicing gratitude is such a simple approach to increase both your happiness and life satisfaction. There are loads of ways to practice gratitude. Here are our 3 top favourites:

1)   thanking others who help you every day

2)   sharing 3 good things that happen each day with a friend or family member

3)   taking a daily photo of something you are grateful for

Whatever way you choose, get in the habit of showing gratitude today!


How to network

How to network

1 Be prepared with a plan and questions

Find out who is attending the event beforehand – get a list of the attendees if you can. Decide on 3 people you really want to meet and Google them to understand their backgrounds (and what they look like).

Prepare a few open questions to ask in advance. Don’t assume you know what’s important to them or how you might help them – ask questions and listen, before you start to talk about yourself.

And always have an escape plan. You don’t want to get stuck talking to the same person if there’s no common ground between you. Position yourself to face out at an event rather than having your back to the group, so you can see others around you. And keep your glass less than half full so that you always have a reason to leave.

2 Focus on the results you create, not on what you do

Your job title may be important to you, but not everyone is so interested.  Introduce yourself by describing the outcome and the results that happen after clients work with you. Make it short, succinct and specific.

You want people’s reaction to be “I need help with that” or “that sounds interesting, tell me more”.

3 Follow up quickly and sincerely

Meeting people at events is just the first step to building resourceful relationships, not the end of the process. Make contact quickly with people you meet, ideally within 2 days. Send an email, call them or connect via LinkedIn with an invitation to meet if appropriate.

People are much more likely to remember you if you look for ways to sincerely help them. Look for opportunities to introduce them to other people, pass on good advice or point them to resources you believe will be useful. Create value for others and you create value for yourself.

Use these simple tips to build your networks and help you get ahead.