America's CU Conference preview

Creative Fire Can Propel CUs to Greatness

Cirque du Soleil creative director shares how to ignite the spark within.

July 17, 2013

Credit union employees can compare themselves to the artists and athletes who launch themselves beautifully, almost magically, through the air on a Cirque du Soleil stage, says Lyn Heward, Cirque’s director of creation and author of “The Spark: Igniting the Creative Fire that Lives Within Us All.”

She’ll address CUNA’s America’s Credit Union Conference next month in New York City.

Heward tells News Now that, for their own good and the good of the credit union movement, credit unions must kindle their employees' creative fire to set them apart from the competition.

In some ways, she says, Cirque is like any organization. It attracts both tough-minded practitioners—athletes with years of training behind them—and creative artists, who have the same amount of determination as the practitioners but a “broader focus on the world around them.”

It is the diversity of tools that these employees bring, Heward says, that builds a successful operation. And it is every manager’s job to recognize “we are all creative” and to help open employees’ minds to the idea of pushing boundaries and “using the tools of the past to build a better future.”

That, she says, is why employees’ creativity is so vital to every organization.

“We all have competition,” Heward says, adding that part of what makes Cirque—or any organization—better is acknowledging that they’re fighting a competitive battle, knowing there are other things out there for people to do, or see, or access.

“It’s not what you do now that will bring you into the future,” she says. “It’s having a vision of what you want to become; how you can evolve and add to your relationships with members and your communities.”

Heward says every organization must gear its creativity directly to its purpose. “Show your members what steps you have taken to serve them better.”

It’s a manager's job, she says, to both inspire and acknowledge team members. Creativity won’t flourish without these elements.

Leaders can inspire teams in many ways, even by simply encouraging them to change things up: eat something different for lunch or take a different route to work—anything to get their creative brains out of their “regular track.”

Another tip: Not all ideas work, at least not the first time around.

But by encouraging employees to fire off many creative ideas all the time, managers will have a deep pool of resourcefulness from which to fish at all times.