When Sally Crawford and one of her salespeople had a problem they couldn't solve, they decided to take it outside. Outside the office, that is. Crawford asked the employee to accompany her on a walk through the neighborhood in order to find a solution to the challenging business problem. In the end, they were able to come up with an answer. "We figured it out," she says. "We just needed a change of pace."
Crawford, 47, is CEO of Crawford & Associates International, a Palo Alto, California, creative-learning company with 25 employees. There's evidence that many employees would embrace her "change of pace" idea. In a poll jointly conducted by ABCNEWS.com and WorkingWounded.com, a Web site that offers advice and insight to help solve many of the problems that workplaces might have, employees were asked to describe what helps them brainstorm effectively. Roughly 48 percent of respondents to the survey said simply leaving the office-getting out of Dodge for a few hours-is the best way to start generating new ideas at work.
"A lot of meetings can fall into a learned helplessness, where the meeting is [always] at the same time in the same place, and that leads to boredom," says Gary Vikesland, a licensed psychologist and certified employee-assistance counselor in Bloomington, Minnesota. "Going to a different place can change the rhythm of a meeting and create better ideas."
Chris Penttila is a Washington, DC-based freelance journalist who covers workplace issues on her blog, Workplacediva.blogspot.com.