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Learning Creativity from our WWII American Soldiers

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Kerry Fuqua
on November 11, 2015

As Veterans Day approaches, it’s time for us to thank our veterans and take a moment to show our appreciation for all they have done for our country, our freedom, and our liberties.  But let’s also consider just how much we can learn from them.  Of course we can learn about hard work, putting our country first, what commitment and sacrifice really mean.  But it’s also about teamwork, creativity, and innovation.  I read an article this summer entitled ‘American Creativity Helped Win WWII’.  The article was about how creativity, innovation and an unlikely solution helped to win the war. 

On D-Day when the American soldiers landed on the beaches of Normandy, they faced an unexpected challenge.  Due to the hedgerows (closely spaced shrubs and trees) that separated farmers’ lands, the Sherman tanks couldn’t reach their destination to protect the incoming soldiers.  They couldn’t go over the top of the hedgerows without popping up the front of the tank and exposing the tanks and our soldiers to Nazi anti-tank fire.   After several logical, but unsuccessful solutions were attempted, a suggestion was made (that was initially rejected at by officers and enlisted men) to mount saw teeth on the front of the tank.  One soldier considered the idea further and continued to brainstorm it.  Leveraging pieces of steel rail that Nazis had thrown on the beaches to slow their attack, he designed and built just such a hedgerow cutting device.  The idea was not only implemented there, but went on to be used hundreds of times to help drive the success of our soldiers. 

How often are we posed with ‘impossible’ talent management challenges?  70% of the US workforce is disengaged (source:  Gallup), 79% of companies believe they have a retention problem (source:  Forbes & Deloitte). 

What if we could give our employees a platform, culture, and environment that promotes creativity, collaboration, and brainstorming?   What if we could retain those top performers, encourage all of our employees to think creatively, find innovative solutions to our challenges, and bring new ideas to market?   

HR Departments can be instrumental in bringing this innovation and creativity by providing talent engagement solutions and environments that encourage growth, smart risk taking, creativity, and collaboration.  We can pay our employees for performance that results in new ideas to market.  We can recognize and encourage creative brainstorming on collaboration platforms such as the PeopleFluent Mirror Suite’s Anytime/Anywhere Feedback

Life’s lessons are all around us.  Aren’t we fortunate that those officers on the beaches of Normandy didn’t just accept it when a ‘crazy’ idea was proposed?  Aren’t we fortunate that they continued to brainstorm, and found an innovative solution to a seemingly impossible problem?  Let’s think about what this can mean to HR departments today:

  • Enable employees with a talent management suite where they can innovate, create, and brainstorm. 
  • Encourage people to be bold with their innovative ideas, and to share them on collaborative platforms, such as the PeopleFluent Mirror Suite. 
  • Encourage managers to recognize their employees real-time, in them moment they are being innovative. 
  • Train your people to be leaders, and encourage their growth with solutions like PeopleFluent Talent Development  and Learning Management solutions. 
  • Be open to creative solutions to retain your top employees and improve employee engagement. 

Keep an eye and an ear out for those lessons. Encourage innovation and creativity in your organization, and help drive your organization’s business results by providing an environment and platform that encourages collaboration and creativity. 

Enjoy your Veterans Day, and from all of us at PeopleFluent, thank you to our country’s veterans. 

Keep Your Edge

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