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A Spark of Inspiration: Tips and Takeaways From Innovation Day

We can’t help but pour our Hearts, Minds, and Guts into everything we do. That holds true even when it comes to the “above and beyond” work—the extra stuff we do because of its potential for meaningful impact. That’s where our HMGs (get it?) come into play. These employee-led groups turn our values into action and help us educate, uplift, and give back to our Mission family and Baltimore.

Our Ignite HMG is responsible for sparking innovation by empowering everyone at Mission to think big and seek inspiration. With the overarching goal of energizing our people to do their best work, we hosted our annual Innovation Day. It was a full-day event rooted in collaboration and ideation (and fun) so we could return to our day-to-day work with fresh eyes, ready to tackle the next big thing for our clients.

Here’s what Innovation Day looked like:

1. Word ConnectionsTwo coworkers sitting at a table brainstorming

Teams blindly pulled words from a hat and combined two unlikely things to create a concept for a new product or service. This got the creative juices flowing and challenged us to shift perspectives and think outside the box.

2. Brand PitchesPerson giving a presentation

Teams developed and filmed a compelling pitch for a new client in just two hours. We dreamed up projects we’d love to take on and solved problems under pressure by combining individual expertise to develop one cohesive solution. 

3. Mission Mascot Handmade clay mascot

We dug up all the crafts and office supplies we could find, and teams sculpted a mascot that embodied all things Mission. It celebrated our talented bunch of hard-working folks and was a lighthearted way to end the day.


Tips for planning your own Innovation Day

Ignite put in a lot of planning leading up to this day—creating activities, prepping supplies, organizing teams, and scheming up a few surprises. In the spirit of inspiring others, we’re sharing some of our tips and takeaways for planning your own Innovation Day.

It’s not just team-building

Team-building is an inherent part of group work, but team-building activities are not the same as innovation-based activities. It’s important to pick out activities that are rooted in creative thinking and center around your specific industry.

Cross teams AND departments

Make sure everyone in your organization is interacting with people outside their normal team to learn and gain new perspectives. If some of your staff is remote, this is a great opportunity to get everyone together for in-person connection and collaboration.

Make it a competition

Is it even fun if there isn’t a winner? Each activity should have something to vie for, whether it’s an advantage for a future activity, or a trophy, prize, swag, or bragging rights. Healthy competition keeps you on your toes and working hard.

Throw some curveballs

…which is exactly what we did. Throughout the day teams picked “curveballs” at random, giving them advantages or disadvantages during activities. This adds a layer of problem-solving—like, how would you put a pitch together if you weren’t allowed to talk?!

Curate an atmosphere

Create an environment that’s different from your daily setup. Rearrange desks and chairs to break the structure of a regular workday. Play music that changes the energy of the space and gets people moving. Provide food and drinks so employees can focus on the task at hand, not their hunger. A wrap-up beer is a great way to decompress and share stories at the end of the day.

Innovation goes beyond one day

Set up quarterly challenges, facilitate idea sharing, hold lunch and learns, and more. Innovation Day is just the spark that keeps ideation and creative thinking at the forefront of everyday work.

Ignite is one of five HMGs. Keep an eye out for more exciting and impactful work from the other four:
Connect — community engagement initiatives.
Access — accessibility on the web and beyond.
Accepted — welcoming and onboarding programs.
Experience — curated, non-work experiences.