Tricks

Creativity in the Workplace: How a Skunk Works Program Could Work for You

What kind of workplace focuses on play instead of work? One concerned with innovation, creativity, and expansion.

Like NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which founded skunk works, a hands on technology laboratory where IT, engineering, and others play openly and freely with hot new consumer technologies.

The concept is simple; anything that looks like it could be innovative in the public sector is purchased for use in the skunk works lab for employees to play with. This has allowed NASA to get ahead of the technology curve, and create innovative and new technology combinations.

But what their finding is surprising. Companies who focus on play and innovation rather than just production, have a higher rate of employee retention, and have a better company culture, than their boring counterparts.

Other companies following suite find the same thing, that when employees are given time to play and explore, innovation occurs, which has fantastic results for the company.

Should you let your employees play more? Yes and here’s why.

Creative Employees

When you let your employees play, you are allowing them to engage and actively develop their creative problem solving capabilities. This results in better solutions and crisis management when real world problems occur.

Creative employees also deliver creative solutions to common concerns and problems, making for a better product or service, and in turn helping your customers in the long run.

Knowledgeable Employees

Particularly in tech related fields, when employees play with new technology, they really learn the product and how it works, which allows them to provide better solutions. Instead of just guessing based on information they think they know, they truly learn how the product works, learning that returns with them to their jobs,

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empowering them to help others better.

Staff Retention

Companies that employ skunk works type programs find that their employee turnover is low, because of the job satisfaction that results because of a sense of accomplishment. Often, this is enough to keep even the best and brightest of stars, even when offers of higher pay or a better title, because they are in a fun, rewarding, enriching environment.

If you’ve ever wanted your company to be more innovative, and ahead of the curve, consider launching a skunk works type program at your company. Your employees and customers will thank you for it.

Have you ever rolled out a skunk works style program? What were your findings?

To read more about skunk works, and the benefits of employees playing, click here.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who is interested in helping your business succeed through innovation. Email: julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.

Multitasking is a Myth

Multitasking

Image Source: Flickr.com / Sorosh

If you think you can multitask, think again. Studies are quickly proving that our beliefs about multitasking are all wrong.

What we call multitasking is usually a case of

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well managed serial tasking; that is, switching from one task to another in rapid succession.

You may go back and forth between the same tasks several times over the duration, but you are always focusing on one task at a time, not multiple.

Serial tasking is what most of us do when we think we’re multitasking. We do it because we think we’re being effective, but the problem is, we’re not.

The American Psychological Association has found that because of the way our brains have to shift to recover in serial tasking situations, it can take up to 40% longer than when we single task, particularly for complicated tasks.

It is actually less efficient to try to do multiple things at once. What’s more, they are finding that people who multitask

can remember less than their single tasking counterparts.

Let’s think about it another way. If we could multitask, magic would not work. That’s because a magician relies on sleight of hand and distraction to keep you focused on

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If you could truly multitask, you could focus on both the distraction and the trick, and not miss a beat. Instead you are amazed when the magician does something you didn’t see coming; amazed, because your single-tasking brain can’t connect the dots. (But don’t feel bad, none of ours can.)

If we really can’t multitask, then why do we believe that we can? Because we’re great at fooling ourselves, that’s why.

So today I challenge you to change your belief, and shatter the multitasking myth. Instead, try to be present and in the moment with everything you do. You’ll find that not only are you more productive, but less stressed. And stress is definitely something we could all use a little less of.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who is interested in helping you rethink your assumptions. Email: julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.

How to Create One Secure Password You Can Use on Any Website

Password Hell

Image Source: Flickr.com / Ron Bennetts

When it comes to passwords, we all have the same problem – we have too many to remember! For every website you sign up for, there is a password associated with your account. And, different services have different password requirements, leaving you with many different passwords that you’re always trying to remember.

Instead of having a list of unique passwords, like each site wants, the reality is that people create passwords that aren’t necessarily secure, but rather are easy for them to remember. Typically people will use important dates, such as birthdays or anniversaries, children’s or pet’s names, or other easy to remember information.

However, since most of us use the same tactics, it makes it easy for hackers to predict passwords, and/or use our computer systems against us to seek out the commonly used information needed to hack passwords.

So how do you create a password that is unique from your other passwords, and unique enough to meet password requirements for the site, but that is still easy enough to remember without keeping a list on your computer?

By creating a password convention system, so that your passwords are both unique to the website, and easy for you to remember.

Pick One Common Password

First, pick one common password you’d like to use. Yes, it does seem counter intuitive, but bear with me for a minute. Think of this common password as a base, the place where all your passwords begin.

The goal is to create one common password that you can easily remember, instead of having several different passwords you have to guess at every time you log in. You’ll want this password to be something easy to remember, and something that meets most common password requirements.

Common password requirements dictate that there are at least 1 upper case letter, 1 lower case letter, and at least 1 number (some passwords require symbols, but we’ll get to that in a minute).

For this example, our common, base password will be: Benji2010.

Modify It

Of course, you cannot and should not use the same password at every website. In fact, we advocate that you have a unique password for every site you use. But, by following these tips, you can create a password convention system that takes your base password and turns it into something unique for every site that is still easy for you to remember.

Once you have your common, base password setup, you can make it unique by adding the initials of the website you are signing up for at the end.

Examples:

Facebook: Benji2010FB   LinkedIn: Benji2010LI  Google+: Benji2010G OR Benji2010G+

You can also change it up and put the initials in the middle if you would like. It doesn’t matter, as long as you are modifying your base password with a convention that is easy to remember.

Examples:

Facebook: BenjiFB2010  LinkedIn: BenjiLI2010  Google+: BenjiG2010 or BenjiG+2010

Unique Symbols Can Replace Common Words

Sometimes, websites require you to have symbols in your passwords as well. There are a few easy ways to deal with this, while still maintaining an easy to remember password convention.

Hold Down Shift

One way to incorporate symbols is to hold down SHIFT when you get to the number portion of your password. So, our example password Benji2010FB becomes Benji@)!)FB.

All that changed is holding down <SHIFT> when typing in 2010. This way, you don’t have to remember the different unique symbols; rather you can just remember that you have to hold down shift when you enter your password.

Pick a Symbol Convention

Another way you could maintain your convention but keep a symbol in the mix, is to pick one symbol you always use in the same spot for every password. Let’s pretend you decided your common symbol is an exclamation point (!), and that you’re going to put it at the end of your passwords. Your base password would become Benji2010FB!

You could also choose to put your symbol at the beginning, like this: !Benji2010FB, or in the middle, like this: Benji2010!FB. It doesn’t really matter, as long as you come up with a convention that is easy for you to remember.

Hopefully these tips gave you a few things to think about when creating a password. As you can see, you can have the same password for every website, as long as you have a password convention that you use to modify your passwords, ensuring they are unique, yet still easy to remember.

Do you have a trick that you like to use to remember your passwords? Leave us a comment and tell us about it.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who is interested in helping people work smarter, not harder, with their technology. Email: julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.