I get by with a little help from my friends…

The Greenwalt article brings up the idea of using prompts “for examining your creative process from a new perspective.”  I’ve never thought of this before in the context of work, but I think it could be a great idea and a fantastic way to foster collaboration and teamwork in an organization.

When I was an undergraduate, I completed a joint major in Spanish and Linguistics.  The Spanish department was phenomenal, and I was fortunate enough to take poetry writing in Spanish one semester. We met twice a week, and for each meeting we were required to bring a poem we had written with us.  The prompts varied, sometimes being inspired by a topic, a specific poem, or a type of figurative language, like a metaphor or personification. I loved it so much that the next semester I took a creative writing course in Spanish.  Each week we would have two prompts: one for fiction and one for non-fiction.  Again, some were more specific than others; one week I think we were given a first sentence, while another week we might be asked to write a fantasy work.  Each one of us produced vastly different results, but we all worked from the very same prompt.  It was thrilling to see what others would come up with, ideas I never would have been able to connect to the prompt in a million years!

Smiling minion

My point here is that I have never had experience with prompts in a professional setting, or in the workplace, but I think it would be a great way to not only find fun, new ways to work together, but also to inspire each other to think outside the box.  I also think it would be an excellent way to get to know some of the coworkers we don’t have a lot of interactions with.  At the library where I work, the Circulation Department is relatively separate from Youth and Adult services; while I have gotten to know some of the Circulation Assistants because they are on the Circ desk while I am over at the Info Desk, I don’t get to know many of the Aides and Pages very well.  If we had weekly prompts that we all responded to, it would be a cool way to see their personalities shine through and give a little insight into what they’re like, especially outside of work.

The two ideas Greenwalt mentioned, like choosing the most relaxing place in the building or designing a new checkout desk sounded like fun.  The next section after Create Prompts also inspired me: Think Visually. Wouldn’t it be even more inspiring to have prompts based off of a picture? Whether each employee was in charge of bringing in a photograph on different weeks to spark ideas, or the manager sent out a picture of a space in the library, like the Teen Zone, and asked for ways to improve or change it, using a picture to push toward innovation would be great.

Excited minions

Personally, when I am working on a project and I have a vague idea of what I’m looking for, I go through pictures or pins on Pinterest until something clicks and I can move forward with my project. I am a very visual thinker and learner, so pictorial prompts are always a great way to kickstart new ideas when I need them.  I think this would be something worth trying, though I know it probably wouldn’t work for everyone.  Maybe if there was a way to combine different types of prompts, rotating the style and what type it is, that would be a way to include everyone’s learning and processing style, and to encourage collaboration and innovation in a workplace.  I work best when I can talk my ideas through with someone, bounce them around until something sticks, so if we had a way to have either an email thread where everyone discussed and contributed ideas, or a message board on our Intranet, I think we could accomplish a lot more than if we all tried to individually work out ideas or innovations to bring to the table.


Greenwalt, R. T.  (2014, February 24).  It’s all around you: Creating a culture of innovation.  Public Libraries Online.  Retrieved from http://publiclibrariesonline.org/2014/02/its-all-around-you-creating-a-culture-of-innovation/


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