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This Quiz Will Tell You If You’re Using Creative Resources Effectively

Pop Quiz: Ten questions for a print manager’s consideration.





How Well Are You Using Your Creative Resources?


1. What resources outside your business do you utilize to think more creatively? 

a. I frequently buy business books. I even read most of them.
b. I read the business section of my local newspaper on an almost-daily basis.
c. My cousin Jack and I always have great ideas when we drink beer and watch the Los Angeles Lakers.
d. Business books, podcasts, webinars, and Mark Cuban videos. I’m even part of a board of advisors consisting of other business owners who share ideas for free.

2. How well do you and your staff keep up with trends in wide-format printing and graphics in general?

a. Well, I suppose all that stuff trickles down to us, eventually, right?
b. We don’t have a particularly scientific method, but we’re all pretty observant and we “talk shop” a lot.
c. My staff and I regularly “shop the competition,” looking for new ideas from businesses both inside and outside of wide-format digial print.
d. Is honesty a trend? Great service? True craftsmanship? Ha! I spit on your “trends!”


3. Do you give your employees “homework” and encourage them to think about the business outside the shop?

a. Yes, we give home assignments to all staff – like reading Big Picture magazine and business books – and help organize other expeditions on a voluntary basis, like shopping the competition, attending industry events, etc.
b. No, that’s a waste of time. I don’t want people to get all excited about some new idea and then end up hurting their feelings by rejecting it.
c. I get eight hours a day from them. I wouldn’t dare ask any more.
d. Sure do. Working for me is a 24-hour-a-day job and everybody better be on board.


4. How often do you hold creative meetings?

a. In our weekly meetings, we cover general issues, which will frequently include discussing a new project or strategy.
b. Never. Everybody knows my door’s open if they want to approach me with an idea that will make us money. But it had better be a good one!
c. We have a big brainstorming meeting every six weeks that we hold off-site, usually at a restaurant or a park. And we also set aside a portion of our weekly staff meetings to talk about new projects.
d. We don’t have regular meetings of any kind, but if something big comes up, I’ll call my senior staff in for a strategy session.

5. How can your employees get their new ideas to you?

a. Creativity is required for everyone in our business. I put everyone on the spot and drag those great ideas out of them.
b. A suggestion box. Where do we keep that darn thing, anyway?
c. Meetings, open-door policy, suggestion box (with monthly prizes).
d. They can list them in their resignation letters.

6. How would you typically open a creative meeting with staff and/or consultants?

a. “Okay, uh, I want to make this short, so what was that thing we were going to talk about again?”
b. “Folks, grab a doughnut, take a look at the notes on yesterday’s wallcovering install I sent you, put your thoughts together, and let’s go around the table.”
c. “Everybody have a nice weekend? Anybody hop on Insta to see what our competition is up to?”
d. “I want to start this meeting off with a little story about how my great-grandfather printed his very first billboard…”

 7. How do you go about conducting a brainstorming session?

a. A different person runs the meeting each time, making the responsibility of planning for the meeting easier. The only rule we have is to say what’s on your mind, no matter how silly.
b. Free form. The floor is opened. Everybody comes up with their best idea.
c. We go around the table and ask everybody, in order, for their best idea. It’s great to see them squirm. Plus, we then have a lot of fun making jokes about the really stupid ideas!
d. Everybody comes up with one idea on the topic and submits it to me privately for review.

8. How do you keep track of ideas? 

a. In my head. I figure the good ones will rise to the top.
b. I have a notebook. Everything I see or hear that inspires me is written into it.
c. “Sarah, write this down: ‘Rosebud.’ Remind me of that when I meet Mrs. Smith next week.”
d. The old-fashioned way – by not having them.


9. How do you reward new ideas? 

a. Use the good ones, throw away the bad ones. Don’t acknowledge either.
b. Use the good ones and offer the originators a big pat on the back.
c. Provide cash or other rewards for good ones, encourage people whose ideas we don’t use to keep on working at it.
d. Give the people who originated them the ultimate compliment – act like I was the one who thought them up.

10. After a meeting that produces some solid ideas for a new project, what do you do? 

a. Forget about the project. It’s out of my hands now.
b. Wait a week to let the people on the project get started, then ask for a full report.
c. Immediately follow up with those concerned to get the project rolling.
d. Have second thoughts about the whole thing and tell those concerned to put the project on hold until we can have another meeting.



1. a. 2 points; b. 1 point; c. 0 points; d. 3 points
2. a. 0 points; b. 2 points; c. 3 points; d. 1 point
3. a. 2 points; b. 0 points; c. 1 point; d. 3 points
4. a. 2 points; b. 0 points; c. 3 points; d. 1 point
5. a. 3 points; b. 1 point; c. 2 points; d. 0 points
6. a. 0 points; b. 3 points; c. 2 points; d. 1 point
7. a. 3 points; b. 2 points; c. 1 point; d. 0 points
8. a. 1 point; b. 3 points; c. 2 points; d. 0 points
9. a. 2 points; b. 3 points; c. 0 points; d. 1 point
10. a. 0 points; b. 2 points; c. 3 points; d. 1 point


0-9. At least no one can accuse you of making changes for change’s sake. C’mon – surely there are some aspects of your business you could improve. Your staff has ideas, but you make it impossible for them to communicate them to you.

10-18. You’re on the right track, but you’re often afraid to make use of your creative resources. “Why mess with a good thing?” you might ask. That’s a good point but implementing new ideas doesn’t necessarily mean recreating your entire business. Start fostering more creativity among your staff and look for outside sources to give yourself ideas, with an eye toward simply improving on what already works for you.

19-26. You’ve got a great handle on many creative resources available to you to improve your business; you get the most out of them with structured, yet open discussion and work-shopping; and you follow through on good ideas with hard work and rewards. Keep up the good work!

27-30. Your business makes excellent use of its creative resources, but you may be pushing some employees too hard. Some people just naturally want to find ways to improve a business, while others simply want to perform well in a job they know. Cultivate and reward creative people in creative positions, but acknowledge the value of your steady, no-surprises employees as well.




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