Creativity Applied

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Peter Bruckmann's Sprint Story

As an accountant I have never viewed myself as a particularly creative person and my initial reaction as a mixture of trepidation and anguish when I began a Creative Sprint challenge in my VCU EMBA class.

I spend most of my day dealing with numbers and spreadsheets and have not taken the time to think outside of work in a while. But I quickly started to have fun creating and sharing with my friends and family.  

One day we were instructed to spill something and use that for inspiration. I was sitting at the kitchen table thinking through what I was going to spill when I noticed we had a candle burning. I picked it up and spilled candle wax on my paper. For whatever reason, the drop formation that I had rather randomly created inspired me to turn it into a fish.

I’m not sure exactly where this came from, could have been eating goldfish crackers earlier in the week or having fish for dinner; either way it produced some inspiration for additional days. Creating fish with different instructions made me think about the challenge as a continuation of a theme. I found myself wanting to compare the fish and the results using different medium and instructions. I was curious to see how the fish I created each day would differ. 

Working with the unexpected became a central theme to my Creative Sprint. Being able to embrace the unexpected not just in this experience, but in other aspects of life can have a similar effect. When something different or unexpected pops up at work I will now think twice about it and see how it can be incorporated and become a value add to the organization.  

It felt good to share each day’s creation. Getting through the initial drafts of work that was questionable in its accuracy and creativity felt relieving in a way. It was great to get feedback and encouragement from team members as this went along. I also enjoyed providing the same support back to my team members.

Going into the assignment with little confidence that any creativity would manifest itself, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed the 30-day Sprint!

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Put my imagination to such good use

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I was somewhat unsure and leery of how I would complete each task when I began the Creative Sprint. I think I felt this way because the challenge required that I use a skill I normally do not use…my imagination. However, after a few days, I got into the rhythm as I became more confident in my creative-self. 

I found I could spend time with my family as well as accomplish a creative task. I told my family about the Creative Sprint challenge and asked that they give me their input on Day 18- take a walk outdoors and create something using exclusively the material you find along the way. To help get everyone’s creative juices flowing, we went for an evening walk and I explained to them what I was looking for. Everyone was excited and we collected various objects that we found interesting. After walking for an hour, we gathered around in the garage and analyzed everything that we collected. After careful thought and two hours of hard work, we had a picture. I could not have done all of this by myself, it was a team effort. We had created something wonderful and everyone was happy. We decided that we would continue to do similar fun projects together as a family. Now instead of watching a movie on Netflix, we engage in these type of activities which binds our family closer together.

Anyone who knows me can tell you that the kitchen is not my favorite place to hang out. When I opened my email on Day 20 and saw the challenge of the day, create using only materials you find in a kitchen, I was completely unsure how I was going to complete it. As I frantically searched through the refrigerator and cabinets, I received a text which contained an emoji. At that moment, I was pulling out a box of rice and setting it on the counter when it hit me! I knew what I was going to do. I decided to create emojis out of food products (e.g., rice, lentils). I would have never imagined that something like this could have been done if not for the Creative Sprint challenge.   

Creative Sprint, awakened a part of me that I did not know I had, with so much energy and zeal. Now, when I feel tired or frustrated, I start working on a creative activity which allows me to relax. It makes feel as though a lot of weight has been taken off of me. Who knew that I could put my imagination to such good use just by giving me a daily task?

Rajsekhar Ganne

EMBA Student, Senior Manager for Capital One in Commercial Banking


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Rejuvenated an aspect of uninhibited fun

Creative Sprint allowed me to be inventive, forced me to think differently than I’m accustomed to in my day-to-day life, and rejuvenated an aspect of uninhibited fun that I had abandoned.

Seeing everyone else’s interpretation of each day’s challenge alleviated some of the pressure I was feeling to be perfect and go above and beyond each day.  Some days it was hard to think of something.  Some days it was hard to think of something new and different.  Some days it was hard to fit it in and prioritize it.

One of my favorite Creative Sprint exercises was to recreate a famous work of art in your own way. I’m not sure how, but Andrew Wyeth’s “Christina’s World” came to mind.  I studied the painting in an art history class during undergrad and have seen it at the MOMA before.  It’s one of those paintings that’s often described as “haunting” and seems to stay ingrained in one’s memory.  I recreated the painting, with myself as the subject, in my own environment- in a “field” (i.e. grassy median) in front of my own home.  There’s more allure in the original than mine, but the contrast of rural 1940s to more urban twenty-first century is a fascinating juxtaposition.

The Creative Sprint was a terrific exercise as it allowed me to tap into my creativity and devote time to channeling creative thought at least once every day for the month.  It allowed me to let go of perfection and pre-conceived notions, and to interpret the exercises how I wanted to express them.  Once I realized that there was no right or wrong, and embraced the materials in my immediate surroundings, I was able to formulate the stories in my own way, with my own voice.  

Since the end of October, I’ve continued to look for inspiration in my environment and be encouraged by those around me.  It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and same-old same-old, and I’m trying to remember the creativity I tapped into during the Creative Sprint.  I think I learned that anyone can be and is creative; sometimes it just requires some coaxing, repetition, and attention.

Sarah Crews

EMBA student, Finance Manager

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