Coins. They rattle in our pockets. They roll clumsily into Coke machines. And – when compassion permits – they fall into tip jars as well as hats and cups that line city sidewalks.

But coins are more than just pieces of metal that denote monetary value: they’re pieces of content that carry creative value.

Coins have copy. Some is informative (“Quarter Dollar”), some promotes our country’s values (“Liberty”), and some even makes religious assertions (“In God We Trust”). Coins also have design elements. Some of these designs commemorate our Founding Fathers, while others showcase the cultural capital of specific states.

Creativity Exercise: Redesign the Quarter (and/or Other Coins)

  • Prior to meeting with your group, grab a pen, some sticky notes, and a coffee mug (or other round object) and trace out a bunch of circles. These circles will serve as templates for your coins.
  • Pass out markers, pens, or pencils to participants and announce which coins they’ll be redesigning. (I had my group redesign three coins: the quarter, the Chuck E. Cheese token, and our company’s virtual currency.)
  • Allow each participant 10 seconds to add one element (copy or design) to each of the coins. A coin’s design is complete once everyone has contributed an element.
  • Hold up the coins for all to see and have participants weigh in on which coins they like best.

What’s the point?

Collaboration: This exercise allows for free collaboration – no one plans out ahead of time what the designs will look like. Instead, ideas flow freely and elements appear on the coins spontaneously.

Timed Creativity: Allowing only 10 seconds for each element to be added to the coins really puts participants on the spot. It forces participants to be creative while also adhering to a tight deadline, which – as you might know – can be difficult.

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