“It’s easier to push an outlandish idea down the hill to become more sensible than it is to push a boring idea up a hill to become slightly more interesting.”

This is a quote I read a while ago, and it has stuck with me over the years. It influences how I tackle the projects that I am in charge of, which often involves bringing a host of people together to solve a shared organisational issue.

At the moment I’m working with a selection of people from across the organisation to create a new induction programme. This is a key piece of work because, to be our best as Councils, we need the attract and retain the best people.

Well, say you start working somewhere new. You arrive on the first day and your laptop isn’t ready. You don’t know how to use any of the software and spend the first three days completing monotonous e-learning and in meetings where you feel out of your depth because everyone’s using acronyms you don’t understand. Are you likely to want to keep working there?

Probably not.

And research backs this up, showing a link between someone’s induction period and retention rates. It can often be a make-or-break between a talented person working with us for the long term or handing in their notice after the first few months.

So how do outlandish ideas link to induction? We’ve been using a range of creativity techniques as a group to develop an induction which is a bit extraordinary. We’re looking to create a ‘wow’ feel when someone joins us.

Our creativity practices enable us to come up with many ideas that you may not have experienced before in an induction: random coffee meet-ups with other people in the organisation and organisations we work with, treasure hunts to get people networking and increasing their knowledge whilst having a bit of fun, a welcome with impact - a banner, a plant or a personalised notebook and pen - on the first day, job swapping to get an idea of what other people in the nearby teams do.

And whilst we are accountable to the taxpayer for how we spend our money, replacing someone who leaves can cost an organisation around £30,000 in management time, recruitment costs, loss of productivity, staffing shortages before the new person starts etc. So it is perhaps worth investing just a little bit of time and money in our new staff to create the right environment which ensures they stay with us for as long as possible. Plus, these are our ‘outlandish’ ideas, remember? And they’ll be pushed down the hill to become a bit more sensible!

I wanted to spend a few moments before I sign off sharing two creativity techniques that I’ve found and used successfully. I hope you can perhaps experiment with them too.

What If? cards
These cards can be used to think of an issue from a different perspective. Such as ‘what if you can use artificial intelligence to automate what you do?’ or ‘what if you have people ready to pay lots in order to have a VIP experience?’

Random post-it (thanks to ‘can scorpions smoke?’)
On lots of post-its, write words associated with your topic. With induction, it might be ‘experience’ ‘first’ ‘learning’ ‘welcome’. Then on other post-its, write lots of random words - ‘chocolate’ ‘boring’ ‘toy’ ‘laughter’. Pick two post-its randomly and think of what they could mean…. Here are some random examples I’ve thought up:

‘first laughter’
This might be creating a lot of questions that teams could use to get to know each other (including funny stories). It could be ‘what’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you?’ ‘where is your dream place to visit?’ ‘what are you most proud about from your life?’

‘boring welcome’
Asking the new starter (in advance of their first day) what they’ve hated in inductions in the past. It might be ‘lots of meetings with new people’ or ‘having to stay late on the first day when your head is full of information’. Knowing what would make a ‘boring welcome’ to them would enable you to personalise their induction to make sure their first day with you starts with a splash.