How To Give Your Employees Unique Work Challenges

Playing Acoustic GuitarThere’s an interesting thing that happens to established musicians.

Sometimes they’ll reach the height of the music world and with that comes more creative control.

Some artists can handle it very well. Others find themselves getting a little out of control. They can buy more studio time. They can experiment with more sounds and instruments. They can work with more producers and writers. Basically they have no limits.

But that plethora of options often causes a paralysis of the creative muscles. They can’t create new music. Or they can’t create new music that they feel is good. They just keep experimenting.

Current State Of Work

Work is a little like that today.

There are tools and apps for just about everything. We can communicate via phone, email, text and more. We have all this technology that sometimes we feel paralyzed and don’t make any creative progress.

In music, what artists will do sometimes is put a limit on themselves. When they’re struggling they’ll tell themselves that they have to use only an acoustic guitar. Or they tell themselves they’re only going to write with one or two people.

Once they have limits the creativity begins to come back.

There’s an interesting story about the writing of The Cat In The Hat. The concept for the book was to create a better children’s book. A better way for children to learn to read. A book publisher came up with a list of words that research showed every kid should know by a certain age.

The publisher challenged Dr. Seuss to create a book using those wordsonly those words. Dr. Seuss thought it would be easy, but once he got into it the task proved challenging, but he came away with one of the most popular books of all time.

How To Challenge Employees

If you’re noticing a lack of creativity in your company then the cure could be little challenges like the ones musicians use or the one that was placed upon Dr. Seuss.

It doesn’t mean that you need to eliminate technology. You could simply propose that your team use one of the technologies for a certain time. Or maybe you give them the chance to use a brand new technology, and only that technology, for a week or so.

This can get them out of their comfort zone. It can get them looking at the business processes in a new way. It can force them to see the business in a new light. It can even force them to discover better ways of doing things as well as better possible solutions.

Little Projects

Another way to boost creativity is to have your team work on little projects. Give them a little framework and then let them see what they can discover.

For example, you have a designer on the team that handles all marketing design. Give them the project of coming up with a new email designer, but give them one theme that they have to use.

Or another example, you have an office manager. Tell them you want to find a new front office or lobby layout/design. But tell them they can only spend $200.

One final one, you take your executive team and give them the next month to brainstorm new product ideas. But the framework is they can only use the current raw materials your business uses for current products. No new materials can be brought in.


The framework or limitation gives us a push in a specific direction. Our brains aren’t thinking about what we could be doing. Instead, we already know what we have to work with so we’re free to think about solutions.

Now, you can certainly expect some pushback on this. It’s not something you’re going to want to do all the time. It causes stress. And stress can be good in the short-term, but if you do it constantly you’re going to have issues.

But doing this from time to time can lead to some great breakthroughs.

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