Silly Cow - Energize Creativity

Looking for a quick, meaningful, and fun activity that will improve your staff meetings, professional development, or classroom experience?  Try the Silly Cow.  I am not sure exactly where I was first exposed to this exercise, but I think it was in the book Business Model Generation.  It was proposed as an activity that will get teams to think creatively.  I have used this activity numerous times and while I do not have evidence that it improves creative thinking, I will attest that it is a blast and tends to re-energize participants. The steps for the activity are below or you can download a PDF version

Here is how the activity works. 

Step #1: Break participants into small groups (3-5 peoples works best). 

Step #2: Define all the characteristics of a cow (e.g. emits mooing sound, produces milk, eats all day).

Step #3: Use the characteristics to create an innovative business using a cow. 

Step #4: Use chart paper to sketch your idea and prepare a presentation to the rest of the group.

I usually give the group about 3 minutes to do step#2 and 20 minutes to do steps #3 and #4.  This is not a lot of time, but that is part of what makes it so fun.  Teams are rushing to come up with an idea, sketch the idea, and prepare their presentation.  Teams typically take 2-3 minutes to give their presentations (business pitch).  Below you can see some of the ideas that groups I worked with have come up with. 

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