How to Create an Idea, the rp Way.

“So, what makes your company culture unique?” If you’re a junior or senior in college, you’ve probably asked your prospective employers this question at the end of the interview. You also probably got some vague, unenthusiastic answer that left you feeling more confused than ever.

In my few short weeks at redpepper, however, I’ve found that the staff is anything but half-hearted about the culture they’ve created. I noticed this during my first few weeks as I experienced the learning curve that is the unique rp verbiage. Forbes writes that a culture should include tools that employees can use to motivate each other, and that “fun” should exist to inspire creativity, not lure talent. And one of our main tools at rp is our constantly evolving glossary of terms that guide the fun that we have every day. Part of this everyday fun-having is our informal problem-solving process, that we usually use without even thinking about it! In fact, I used it to solve the problem of writing this blog. In order to put our cultural jargon into context, I’m going to walk you through our Steps to Solving a Problem using our rp vernacular to guide the way.  

Step 1: Collecting Dots

A problem usually starts with collecting Dots, and sometimes, you don’t even know you are doing it. As I sat in on meetings, I started to find myself writing down terms that I didn’t know the definition of. As a result of feeling lost, a lightbulb went off in my brain and I began to form an idea.

Dots: There is nothing new under the sun. Only new combinations of things that already exist. Dots are pieces of information that can be collected through experience, learnings, or research. The more dots you put into your mind, the more mental reference points you will have to connect. Ideas come from the collision of dots.

When coming up with a creative idea to solve a problem for a project, the more dots you have in your head the better.

Step 2: Making Make Time

On Monday, I blocked off a chunk in my calendar dedicated to Make Time so I could sit down in our library and think. If I was feeling confused about some of our company jargon, then certainly others were feeling the same way. I wrote out a plan about what I envisioned for this post and how I wanted to show the reader all the unique words we use here every day.

Make Time: This is a meeting-free block of time for everyone to make, create, think, and get solid work done. Isolation is not required, but a clear calendar is — this means no team meetings, no dailies, no client calls, just empty space on our calendars. It's amazing what happens in the ~whitespace~. Keep this time sacred and use it effectively.

Step 3: Filling the Tank

Then, it was time for some Tank Filling. After talking to some SME’s (Subject Matter Experts), and doing some research I realized the importance of a consistent and cohesive company vernacular. I concluded that in order to walk like a pepper, you gotta talk like a pepper.  

Tank Filling: It’s our term for research. It’s the intentional act of “filling your tank” with dots you find in the world—and the more dots you have, the better. When it comes to creative problem solving, tank filling is our best friend.

Step 4: Bouncin’ Around

After I gathered some data, I decided to Bounce with Karen, another intern who described our rp glossary as intentional because, “we own those words, and we live them.” For me, that was some Pink/Gold.  

Bounce: A short informal huddle with 1-2 people to help you with your work. 5-15 mins max. Usually on one small aspect that you might be working on that day. "Hey, I am trying to get the right colors pulled together for this identity project, which of these two colors makes you think of 'energy' when you see it in this context?"  The idea here is to give the person you are bouncing with a very small frame in which to focus their feedback.

Pink/Gold: The most important information and insight that comes out of a conversation that you want to be sure gets carried forward.

Step 5: Zoning

I went into a Zone room, and put everything away, except for my pen and paper, and started to write all of this out. I had literally gone through the rp problem-solving process while coming up with the idea to write about our problem-solving process. ~inception~

Zoning: An intentional, dedicated 45-90 minute block of time for just you, the work, and nothing else—no phones, no people, no distractions. By directing your full attention to the problem at hand, your brain is free to peak perform and explore multiple angles, making connections and breakthroughs that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible.

Step 6: Getting some perspective

Finally, it was time to pitch the final idea to Elizabeth for feedback. Thankfully, she was able to give me some IP, and help me clarify my ideas, and edit this piece to make it near perfect!

IP (integrated perspective): Gaining the perspective of others helps to eliminate personal bias and brings the proper expertise to a given situation. ‘What IP do we need to seek out to make sure we are answering this key question carefully?’

Step 7: Aligning with the Team

This blog post has developed into my intern project. I’m working on creating a working glossary for rp so that interns and new hires can come into rp and have something to reference when they need it. Each week I’m going to present a new word to the rp team in Alignment and hopefully create a way to make it stick. Ideally, I’ll get it integrated into Slack so that anyone can look up a word, like an online dictionary. One month into the internship, and I’m already Hustlin’ & Growin’!

Alignment: This is the one time a week we all gather to align on our goals, celebrate our successes, teach something valuable, learn something new, and leave ready to peak perform in the week ahead.

Slack: Our primary tool for online communication. It’s a sophisticated instant messenger with groups for different projects, clients, or interests, as well as direct messaging so you can chat with anyone in the agency.

Taylor Grow, Client Services Intern, Vanderbilt University '17