It all started with a light bulb.
One day, long before the VCU School of Business enacted its EPIC strategic plan to promote creativity, Ken Kahn, senior associate dean, gave a light bulb — the symbol of ideas — to every faculty and staff member. It was a reminder that sometimes constraints kill ideas before they’re ever born and so faculty and staff should remain vigilant.
Suzanne C. Makarem, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing, and the 2016–2017 creativity czar, turned her light bulb into a necklace Feb. 10 to show her VCU School of Business pride. She did this on the final day of the school’s recent Creative Sprint, a 10-day challenge where faculty, staff and students were encouraged to create something different each day.
As czar, Makarem collaborated with a handful of colleagues to create each day’s challenge. Unlike a similar 30-day sprint held in the fall, this one was School of Business-centric.
“The 30-day one was done for the whole nation, everyone could participate,” she said. “This one was specific to the School of Business … we tried to link it a little bit to the way we think about things. And we tried to spread the word more and make it only 10 days.”
|Day 1: Make something that fits into the palm of your hand using the materials in your immediate environment|
|Day 2: Make something with or inspired by coins, any coins you can get your hands on|
|Day 3: Make something using or inspired by Sticky Notes|
|Day 4 : Make something inspired by a graph or chart|
|Day 5: Start something and have someone else finish it|
|Day 6: Find a creative way to pay someone a compliment or say “thank you!”|
|Day 7: Make something inspired by a business hero or the person who inspired you to join the business school|
|Day 8: Make something and leave it for someone else to discover|
|Day 9: Have someone teach you something you don’t know and do it|
|Day 10: Make something that shows your VCU School of Business pride|
The group added incentives, such as prizes each day, and created a Facebook page where participants could post their creations.
“We made it more collaborative,” Makarem said.
About 200 people joined the Facebook group. Some participated all 10 days, but others could pick which days they wanted to contribute based on the task. A table was set up in the Snead Hall atrium for one hour every day to remind passersby of the sprint and give them a place to create.
“People would come to the table and say, ‘Oh this is so cool,’” Makarem said. “Even the ones who didn’t create were like, ‘Oh, it’s so cool that we’re doing this.’”
Prizewinners were selected randomly — an important distinction to Makarem.
“It wasn’t based on judging the work,” she said. “And that’s what creativity is all about, putting ideas out there and not being shut down. So there was no prize based on judging what you did. It was just random.
“In the midst of all that creativity is fun.”
“Seeing everybody’s creations was just fun and one of the comments I kept getting was ‘this is fun.’ It’s part of our culture. It is creating that culture and environment of creativity and also training our brain, but in the midst of all that creativity is fun. And when you do what you do while having fun, that’s when you’re the best at it.”