USAID – Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI)
Unleash Your Creativity – Develop A Creative Toolbox
4-Week Online Workshop Series (April – May 2021)
The Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) supports U.S. foreign policy objectives and helps advance peace and democracy. I had the pleasure of collaborating with two creative teams from the USAID OTI office, which included communications specialists and graphic designers. The main objective of our 4-week journey together was to utilize creative methods to address issues these creative teams face in their fast-paced professional environments.
Prior to the start of the workshop series, OTI Communications Team Lead, Dena Gudaitis, organized an online meet-and-greet between myself and the two teams. In this informal discussion participants shared the common problems they are facing when approaching their creative processes in their day-to-day activities and responsibilities. Two common problems included:
- Collaborating with people who think they are not creative. How do you speak with non-creatives and involve them more in the creative process?
- Time & resources. How do you create the necessary time for the creative process under tight deadlines?
The 4-week journey offered an introduction to the following creative methods:
Session 01: Creativity & You – Connecting yourself to the creative process.
Session 02: Design Thinking Introduction – Design Thinking basics.
Session 03: Storytelling – Share ideas; Work with creative constraints.
Session 04: Futures Thinking – Grow imagination capacity.
Each 1.5-hour online session utilized the creative sprint method to allow them to practice applying the new tools they were adding to their creative toolbox. Participants also kept a creative notebook and subscribed to my weekly Creative Bites to help build their creative momentum between sessions.
Participant Results & Insights
At the end of their creative journey together the group created a compilation video sharing the benefits they received from this 4-week creative experience. They collaborated across time zones and virtual spaces to organize themselves and edit the video. Take a look at the video below!
Some of the key takeaways, tools, and benefits they mention include:
- Creative Sprint Method (1:36 – 2:27)
- 5-Image Storyboard (0:55 – 1:21)
- Brain Dump (2:28 – 3:37)
- Imagination Space (3:38 – 4:07)
- Creative super strengths & vulnerabilities (4:08 – 4:31)
- Design Thinking Framework (4:37 – 5:24)
- Diffuse designers – “Everyone can be a Designer” (5:24 – 5:48)
- Different types of creatives (5:48 – 6:18)
- Brainstorming (6:20 – 6:55)
- Problem-solving & Project Impact (6:56 – 7:47)
- Creative Confidence (7:48 – 8:46)
- “To be creative, you have to do creative. And the do is the practice.” (1:23 -1:34)
Guiding experienced creatives through creative methodologies is always a thrill for me. It is a joy to see seasoned creatives open new channels to their creativity when introduced to new methods or simple creative prompts.
This particular group of communications specialists and graphic designers were exceptionally curious and dedicated to the process. As you will see in the video, each person received unique benefits directly related to their own stage of creativity and level of professional experience and creative expertise.
As an educator I challenge myself with each new group I encounter to keep my eyes open to their different learning styles and levels of expertise. It is okay that participants don’t always find the same things relevant. In fact, this is actually a good sign, and proves that individual creative contributions matter. We can learn from one another. As was demonstrated in the superhero exercise, we can use our super strengths and our creative vulnerabilities (“kryptonite”) for more effective and seamless collaboration when problem solving.