Usher Creativity into Your Cooperative Decision Making

Have you ever thought about how to be more creative? Or about trying to be creative at all? Most people are just concerned with getting the task at hand completed and not trying to do it in a different or creative way. Creativity is a somewhat abstract and subjective topic but can lead to amazing new ideas that cooperators could apply to their cooperative and personal life.

First, what does being creative mean? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines creativity as: 1. The ability to create 2. The quality of being creative. This definition really doesn’t explain much, so I searched for a better one, and it turns out creativity can be defined in many ways. Here are some of the best ones: “Building universes out of nothing.” by Danny Sullivan; “Copying smarter.” by Lisa Barone; “Going unexpected places.” by Shane Snow; “Just making something. It might be something crummy or awkward or not ready for prime time. If you just make something, you are creative.” by Sonia Simone; “The process of having original ideas that have value.” by Sir Ken Robinson; and “This might not work.” by Seth Godin. These are only a handful of the many unique definitions that people have come up with for creativity. It is interesting how there can be so many definitions for one thing and that they can all make sense.

Creativity is common in humans. Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist; the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” Walt Disney said, “That’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up. They forget.” As grown-ups people are not as willing to try new things. There is a fear of being wrong not found in childhood that causes adults to lose their creativity.

How often do you stop and think about why you do something the way you do? The answer is often something like, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” Think about how many times you’ve heard that answer in your cooperative? Does that mean it’s the best way to do it? Could there be a better way? Asking these types of questions is a great path to coming up with creative new ideas.

In his book “Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity,” Josh Linkner explains two different techniques of asking questions to come up with better ideas. One of them is asking, Why? What if? Why not? Linkner said, “When you ask these questions it forces you to challenge conventional wisdom. It forces you to imagine what can be instead of just what is.”

The other technique is to ask “Why?” five times. So, you take your problem and ask “Why?” of the answer to each question “Why?” until you have asked it five times. This technique can help cooperators to drill down to the root of a problem. Asking questions and being curious will foster more creativity.

Another fun exercise for thinking more creatively is to make a list of as many of a certain type of item within five minutes. This activity works well with shades of a color but can be done with different things. For this exercise see how many shades of blue can be listed. I’ll put some of the possible answers at the bottom of this article for comparison.

Another fun exercise designed for creativity is called Thirty Circles developed by Bob Mckim. Mckim was a creativity researcher in the 1960s and 1970s and led the Stanford Design Program. Each participant gets one Thirty Circles sheet of paper (Multiple templates for “Thirty Circles” exist online) and a writing instrument. Then they must turn as many of the blank circles as possible into recognizable objects in three minutes. The interesting part is to see what everyone creates. How many circles did they fill? How did they do it? Did they treat each circle as an individual item, or did they use multiple circles to make one object?

Above are some examples of how some chose to complete this exercise. I hope these activities will stimulate more creativity for new ideas to implement into your cooperative and life. Remember adults can never be too old to be creative.

Some of the possible answers to the shades of blue exercise are: cyan, cerulean, cobalt blue, cornflower blue, baby blue, blue gray, blue green, green blue, ice blue, indigo, electric blue, light blue, midnight blue, navy, periwinkle, powder blue, royal blue, sapphire, sky blue, steel blue, teal, turquoise, viridian and violet-blue.

This article was featured in CHQ fall 2020 issue. Click here to read the PDF newsletter.


Theresa Cady is the Michigan Region Education Coordinator with CSI Support & Development in Warren, Mich.

Healthy and Fun Ideas to Navigate Through COVID-19

A vast majority of Governors have mandated shelter-in-place orders for their residents to ease the spread of COVID-19. While we are all adapting to our temporary “new normal” it is important to remember to take time for yourself to help reduce the stress and anxiety that a pandemic can cause. Social distancing can take a toll on our emotional and mental states.

To help maintain a healthy lifestyle while staying safe at home to help flatten the curve, here are some things to do at home instead of watching the news, or binge watching television shows:

  • Yoga;
  • Meditating;
  • Call your friends and family;
  • Try a new exercise class;
  • Read a book;
  • Learn a new language;
  • Tackle your spring cleaning to-do list;
  • Donate clothes and household items you no longer use;
  • Do a puzzle;
  • Go for walks, bike rides, or engage in other outdoor activities.

If you are missing your weekly card game or social gathering event with your neighbors, here are some fun social distancing activities you and your cooperative could participate in via video conferencing:

  • Meet and greet and/or social hour with your neighbors;
  • Book club;
  • Yoga or other exercise classes;
  • Cooking classes;
  • Trivia night;
  • Card games;
  • Craft making;
  • Stream concerts;
  • Dinner parties; or

If you are navigating through COVID-19 as a parent, the CDC has resources available at its website to help parents talk with their children about COVID-19[1]. Children can also show signs of being stressed and anxious during a pandemic. It is important to talk to your children about COVID-19 and let them know that they are safe. Children may also be confused and/or upset due to the closing of their school. The CDC has tips for making learning fun and using video conferencing to stay in touch with their friends and family.[2] Here are some fun ideas for you and your family to do while at home:

  • Go outside and play;
  • Virtual playdates;
  • Yoga and virtual exercise classes;
  • Arts and crafts;
  • Play board games;
  • Have a dance party;
  • Check out zoo and aquarium web cams;
  • Virtual tours of museums and national parks;
  • Make cards for first responders and frontliners; or
  • Become pen pals with friends and neighbors.

One of the greatest tenets of cooperative living is being a part of your community. Whether you are a board member or a member, it is important to help support your community and help navigate your community through this challenging time. As a community, you will continue to work together for the greater good of the membership and take care of one another during this health crisis. Remember to take care of yourself, your family and your neighbors. We are all in this together!


Alyssa Gunsorek is an associate attorney with experience in contract negotiations. She has contributed articles for various publications including the MAHC Messenger, NAHC’s Housing Cooperative Quarterly, and Pentiuk, Couvreur & Kobiljak’s Cooperative Law Jo