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Creativity & Innovation

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At American University, creativity and innovation are year-round goals. The Workplace Learning and Development department of Human Resources and AU Innovation Facilitators help to raise awareness. Here are some additional resources to jump-start your creativity and innovative spirit.

AU World Creativity And Innovation Week - Daily Puzzles

Game #1 - Analogies

Complete the analogy.
1. Asparagus is to sugar as Tragic is to CIGAR
Answer: The second word is spelled backwards at the end of the first word

What six letter word completes this analogy?
2. Timberline is to Germany as Comparison is to FRANCE
Answer: The Capital of a the second word is included in the first word

What 5 letter word completes this analogy?
3. Rapscallion is to Rascal as Compadres is to CADRE
Answer: the second word is a synonym and included in the first word

Game #2 – Logic

1. The average ages of the 5 people in a room are 30. A sixth person joins the room and the average rises to 32. How old is the sixth person?

Answer: 42

2. You are next to a river and have a 5 gallon container and a 3 gallon container. You need to measure out 1 gallon of water. How do you do it?

Answer: Fill the 3 gallon container first. Pour it into the 5 gallon container. Fill the 3 gallon container again and pour into the 5 gallon container. You should have 1 gallon left in the 3 gallon container.

3. How much dirt is in a hole 6 and a half feet wide, 8 feet deep and 5 feet long?

Answer: None. There is not dirt in a hole

4. How do six nines equal exactly 100. (you can use addition, division, decimals…just no other digits)

Answer: 99+99/99


Game #3 – Problem Solving

You arrive at a hotel and have 3 sets of golden rings. The first set of rings has 4 rings, the second set has 2 rings and the third has only one ring. You cannot take these sets of rings apart, exchange them for a different form of currency, and the hotel clerk has no change. You want to stay at the hotel for 7 nights, and you have to pay one gold ring for each night that you stay. You cannot pay in advance or all at once at the end of your stay. How do you pay for your nights at the hotel?

Answer: Give the clerk the 1 ring on the first night (1). On the second night you give the clerk the set of 2 rings and take back the 1 ring (2). On the third night you give the clerk the 1 ring that you took back (2+1). On the fourth night, you take back the 1 ring and the set of 2 rings and give him the set of 4 rings in return (4). On the fifth night, you give the clerk the 1 ring back (4+1). On the sixth night, you take back the 1 ring and give him the 2 ring (4+2). And on the seventh night you give him the 1 ring back. (4+2+1)

Game #4Deduction

Jude made a pizza. He cut it into six pieces and shared it with Luke and Esther. Each person had a whole number of pieces. Jude had more than Luke or Esther. Esther had more than Luke.
How many pieces of pizza did each person have?
Answer: Jude had 3 slices. Esther had 2 slices. Luke had 1 slice.

Puzzle #5 – Creativity

Being creative involves seeing relationships and making connections.
Each or the words in a row have something in common with another word. See if you can make a connection, and write that word in the last column. The first row is done for you.
There are no “right” or “wrong” answers.

1. water





2. wish





3. room





4. book





5. flower





6. ear





7. bed





8. birth





9. belly











Puzzle #6 – Problem Solving

Solve the following problem:

If 2 + 3 = 10
  7 + 2 = 63
  6 + 5 = 66
  8 + 4 = 96
Then 9 + 7 = ?

Answer: 144. (Each answer is solved by adding the two numbers and multiplying by the first.)


Throughout the Year

World Creativity and Innovation Week Courses

Thursday, April 11
Leadership: Creating the Climate for Innovation

9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

This program looks at the impact leaders have on innovative productivity. Three specific capabilities that have been found to differentiate between the most successful and least successful innovative organizations are identified. Explorations into all three capabilities and how leaders can take a deliberate approach to developing a climate for innovation is presented. You will learn: what the top innovative organizations are doing to pull away from the pack and how 9 dimensions, when focused by leaders, can create the climate where productivity improves and innovation flourishes. (Course length: 4 hours)

Tuesday, April 16
Giving & Receiving Ideas: How to Influence Acceptance & Realize Potential
1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

This course will look at 'idea apathy' from two perspectives of the creator/giver of ideas and as the leader/receiver of ideas. Participants will learn: how to build a 3-step a case for acceptance of an idea by others; how to identify your style preference and that of your receiver in order to facilitate the discussions; and how to explore viability of an idea. (Course length: 4 hours)

Wednesday, April 17
Creative Problem Solving for Personal Innovation
1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

How many of us experience a block when challenged to come up with fresh, innovative ideas or become paralyzed when faced with a major undertaking? If you'd like to learn how to unblock our brain and expand your creative thinking about common work problems, this curse will give you easy-to-use tools and techniques -- from mind mapping to brainstorming to idea journaling -- to help you maximize your creative potential. (Course length: 4 hours)

Thursday, April 18
Lunch and Learn: Creative Decision Making
12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

What comes after brainstorming? Creative methods for focusing in on the best decision. (Course length: 2 hours)

How to register for courses:

Staff and Faculty Managers of Staff:
Register for these instructor-led courses by logging into the Learning module in the AsuccessfulU system through the portal. After clicking the AsuccessfulU link, select the button "Go to AsuccessfulU." Navigate to the Home tab then select the Learning tab; from there you can browse and register for these and other courses, view your learning plan (to-do list) and learning history.  

View the course catalog of Professional Development and Wellness Courses (PDF). Faculty who are interested in registering for a professional development training offered by Human Resources can send their name, AU ID, and session title to Confirmation of registration will be sent to your AU e-mail address. If you wish to cancel, send an e-mail to

Part Time Staff:
As a part time staff member, you can register for training and professional development opportunities by having your supervisor send an email to, detailing the course name, date and time, and your name and AU ID number. To view courses being offered, download the HR Training Catalog.

Organizational Development Services

Supporting a culture of change, innovation and high-performance, the Workplace Learning and Development team offers professional development services to American University staff through:

  • Online Training Course Registration
  • Performance Management Programs
  • Consulting Services
  • Surveys and Assessments
  • Meeting Facilitation
  • Staff Retreat Facilitation
  • Creative Problem Solving Facilitation
Available Organizational Development services/topics

Innovation/Creativity Web site:

Use the site as a resource to support your creativity and innovation efforts throughout the year.

Faculty/Staff Awards and Grants

American University recognizes outstanding employee achievements through the University Awards program and other grants, including some specifically to recognize and encourage innovative and creative efforts.

  • Staff Innovation Award
    This award is given to a staff member or group who generated novel and valuable ideas and used these ideas to develop new or improved processes, methods, systems, products, or services. The award recognizes creative ideas that improved the university and made AU a better place to live and work.
    Learn More
    Nominate Someone

  • The "Best Idea Grant"
    A competitive grant offered through the Center for Teaching, Research and Learning for incubating innovative cross-disciplinary research. Grant applicants should be AU faculty, and the expectation is that this seed grant will evolve into a larger research enterprise, a university center or institute, by developing a critical mass of knowledge.
    Learn More
    Nominate Someone