Open the Doors to Creativity

Everyone has a wellspring of creativity, says Cirque du Soleil’s Lyn Heward.

July 02, 2013
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Lyn Heward issued this challenge to credit unions: Be more creative.
The director of creation for the Montreal Cirque du Soleil and author of “The Spark: Igniting the Creative Fire that Lives Within Us All” says everyone has a wellspring of creativity.
“We just need to tap into and exercise it,” she told attendees Tuesday.
Heward says credit union leaders can tap into their organizations’ creativity by opening these “creative doors”:
Develop intuitive instincts by finely honing your senses. Move beyond mechanics and analytics and into the moment, she advised. Capture new ideas and experiences as they occur. 
► Partake in “treasure hunting” and “creative transference”—a.k.a. training.
Cirque is a treasure hunter, Heward said, “seeking out the most precious of pearls” to work for the organization. The company has created a database of potential employees and holds rigorous tryouts that push people to their limits.
“The qualities we seek are courage, the willingness to take risks and to manage their own growth, generosity, and the ability to learn quickly,” Heward said. “We peel back the skin to get to the sweet core.” 
► Provide a nurturing environment and collaborate. This promotes personal growth and fosters trust. Cirque subscribes to the idea of “collective creativity,” whereby everyone is responsible for contributing to the creative process and being generous.
“We instill humility,” Heward said. “It’s not my show, it’s our show. Sometimes you have only half of the pieces to the creative puzzle, rarely the whole puzzle. That’s why collaborative creativity is so important.” 
► Embrace budgetary and other constraints—they force you to be more creative. 
► Take risks. “Forge ahead, make mistakes, and learn from them,” Heward advised. “At Cirque we call this ‘research and development.’ Complacency is the biggest risk you face.”
► Keep it fresh. “Once the baby is born,” Heward said, “how can we help it grow?” 
The best way to do so is to lead by example. “A hard-working boss is top motivator for employees. We need shared creative ownership.”

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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