1. Foster creative thinking in the office Featured

8:00pm EDT October 26, 2009

At Edelman U.S., the nation’s largest public relations firm, President and COO Nancy Ruscheinski puts a premium on innovative thinking.

“The industry that we’re in, creativity is table stakes,” Ruscheinski says. “It’s not a luxury; it’s a necessity. So there’s real self-interest in creating an environment that spurs creative thinking.”

Edelman does this several ways.

The company closes down for creativity days a few times a year, taking employees on field trips to places such as The Art Institute of Chicago. Ruscheinski also relies on the old standby: a little competition and cash.

The company has given out small money grants to the person with the best idea for redesigning his or her cube. The firm also created a cash award for creative excellence for an employee’s most creative idea that’s used — whether for a campaign or an internal idea.

“We put a big spotlight on them and celebrate those, so things like that help keep the concept of creative very fresh and dynamic here,” Ruscheinski says.

Edelman also held a contest where people could submit ideas for redesigning office space to become a creative space. The reward was based on the top design that mixed a sharp, relaxing setting and a meeting room where work could be done. And while those spaces are relaxing, they are also functional — filled with whiteboards, markers and other tools to start a brainstorming session.