When you ask creative people where the creativity comes from, they usually can’t tell you. They’ll say something like “It just happens” or “I don’t consider myself more creative than the next person.” And some aren’t shy about telling you they’ve never had original ideas.

Regardless of your creativity level, you can come up with new ways to attract participants, get more lasting behavior change, and have a greater impact on your organization with these tips.

Take Time to Mess Around

One of the most innovative companies of all time is 3M — with some 66,000 different products. Management strives for new products to account for 30% of annual sales. They support this goal with a policy that says technicians should spend 15% of their time pursuing their vision.

How much time do you spend envisioning… asking “what if …?” Many health promoters are caught up in an operational mode that feels like beat-the-clock, day in and day out. To come up with new ideas, you need time. If you’re tempted to say “I don’t have time to be creative!” — stop. How have you responded to participants who say “I don’t have time to exercise”?

Ultimately, time to do anything is about priorities. If new ideas are important in your job (and in health promotion they are), make this a priority and block out the time.

Don’t Be an Island

Whether you work with a large staff or are the sole person responsible for health promotion, it’s tough to be creative if you brainstorm only inside your cranium. Innovative organizations pull together teams from marketing, research, engineering, and sales to come up with new ideas and ways to make them work.

When was the last time you involved people from outside your department to solve problems or generate new ways to enhance health? Add it to your to-do list for your next program initiative.

Accumulate and Associate

Good ideas are everywhere. You acknowledge it when you say “how clever” about a product or an ad. Instead of letting it slip away, jot down the concept or tear it out of the magazine and file it. What started out as a single Good Ideas file in our office has turned into a whole drawer that gets updated each week, after discussing the application to our business in a staff meeting.

With some dedicated time and thoughtful connections, you can produce fresh program ideas that will keep participants coming back for more.

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