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If you’ve ever done a brainstorming activity with me or been in a meeting discussing the future and new ideas, you know I have a penchant for innovation. I have taken multiple personality tests and done endless strength-finder activities to determine my work style. Knowing your work strengths and style — and those of the people you’re working with — can really help with the team’s overall chemistry and productivity.  

If you’re interested in going down some rabbit holes, here are a few of my favorite personality resources:  

Gallup Strengths Finder: https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/ 

DiSC Profile: https://www.discprofile.com/  

The New Science of Team Chemistry: https://hbr.org/2017/03/the-new-science-of-team-chemistry  

In public relations, we are frequently faced with doing more with less, and we must continuously develop new ideas to help generate innovative campaigns. Whether you are helping a government organization connect with a new audience or a nonprofit seeking additional funding, staying innovative is crucial for all industries to remain relevant and connected with consumers. Here are some of my favorite tips to stay innovative and generate fresh ideas. 

  1. Get an outsider’s perspective.  

New ideas don’t come easily for everyone. For some people, it takes a lot of time and effort to generate just one fresh idea. If this sounds like you, find an innovator to bounce ideas off of. An innovator is someone who challenges the status quo and isn’t afraid to approach a problem from a different angle. They are typically experimental and inquisitive. I’ve found getting an outsider’s perspective on an issue can open your eyes to things you might not have imagined.  

  1. Change your scenery.  

I find inspiration from the physical environment that surrounds me. If I’m working on a project dealing with education, I often find my best ideas come when I’m in an educational setting. It’s insightful to listen to conversations and observe people in their natural environment. Alternatively, if I’m working on a project for an agricultural-related topic, I might set up shop at my local farmer’s market. There’s just something about being fully immersed in a setting that fosters an innovative mindset. 

  1. Say no to “no.”  

We’ve all been in a meeting where Debbie Downer shoots down every idea that is presented. I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard, “We tried that 10 years ago and it didn’t work.” In my experience, if you can set the tone for the meeting at the beginning and let the team know every suggestion is worthy of being heard, you can help to reduce the negative energy and focus on developing ideas. Later, you can go back and eliminate anything that isn’t in line with your goals.   

  1. Keep an ideas bank.  

As a creative-minded person, I often find inspiration in the most random places and at the most inopportune times. I have a photo album on my phone and a file on my computer full of random inspirational artwork photos and screenshots. Most of the time I don’t have a specific project in mind when something catches my eye, but when I need a new idea for a client campaign, I often flip through these files to see if anything jumps out.  

We’re all guilty of getting caught up in the daily grind, but when you’re aware of your tendencies and behaviors, you can push yourself to do better and move beyond the obvious. Breaking out of your normal will elevate your insight and help develop a more innovative mindset.

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Cassie Cotton

Cassie is an expert project manager with a futuristic mindset, and she’s at her best when she’s had two cups of coffee and is working to solve complex problems with creative solutions.

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