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Setting the Mood

Spur brilliant ideas by spicing up employees' surroundings.

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This story appears in the August 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Enter the work space of Vital Marketing in New York City, and you'll find a plasma TV in the lobby as well as an open reception area. No cubicles for founder Joe Anthony's employees. "We group our project teams together.... We try to almost create these bullpens so people will always be able to turn around and troubleshoot," says Anthony, 32, of his business, which specializes in multicultural and youth marketing and averages $20 million in annual sales.

For a space to truly inspire employee innovation, it needs a good balance of collaborative and personal space, says Jonathan Vehar, senior partner of New & Improved LLC, an innovation training and development company in Evanston, Illinois. Though it may be fun to design a creativity room with funky chairs and crazy colors, remember to incorporate innovation catalysts in other areas of the office, too. Consider adding visual stimuli, such as artwork, video monitors and windows looking out onto other environments. Says Vehar, "The four categories we use are pictures of people, machinery, food and nature. Those spark really interesting ideas."

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