Organic Creativity

Organic Creativity

To fill our magazine's pages, we research what’s going on inside Minnesota businesses relative to the rest of the world, and analyze dozens of other sources.

Like many of you, we’re in an industry that must transform, if not revolutionize, what we do and how we do it. This includes coming up with ideas—on an almost daily basis—to develop additional compelling, relevant products and services that you, the reader, will want and appreciate, and can’t get elsewhere.

When it comes to what’s in these pages, we research what’s going on inside Minnesota businesses relative to the rest of the world, and analyze dozens of other sources—magazines, newspapers, blogs, e-newsletters, tweets, live events, books— for ideas we might build upon or improve. And, whenever possible, we devise new, unique approaches.

Stories about creative individuals—Steve Jobs, for example—typically focus on their personality traits, history and individual style, and on their major innovation. They’re deservedly noteworthy and make for a good read for people who want to become more accomplished individuals themselves. But they usually aren’t all that helpful for those who want to lead so others can be more innovative.

This month’s cover story profiles seven of the Twin Cities’ most effective leaders at empowering and inspiring creativity in others in their organization. A few are from organizations such as Ecolab and Hennepin County Medical Center, which you might not expect in this context. But all share a drive to create self-perpetuating catalysts for improving quality, customer satisfaction, revenues and earnings. Among their secrets: learning from—and building on—past failure, assembling the right teams, getting to really know the customer and never assuming you have all the answers. It’s creativity at its best, coming from smart, diverse people working together for a common goal.

In fact, we think creativity is an overarching theme throughout the issue including our 2014 Outstanding Health Care awards. Unlike other awards recognizing great delivery of care, we turn the spotlight on those who are taking a creative approach to tackling the most important issue in the industry today: How to significantly improve the quality of health care, while reducing (or at least maintaining) costs. Forget about health care exchanges and Obamacare—this is where the successes and failures are most important to us all.

You’ll also find a story about a health care organization in Minnesota that’s leading the charge to provide high-quality, affordable and easy-to-access mental health care. In less than a decade, PrairieCare has emerged as a major player in this field, filling the void when others retreated. And it continues to branch out, adding more locations and services that cover the full continuum of mental health care. It’s also affiliating with other providers, including the University of Minnesota Medical School—another great example of innovation.

Closer to home, we continue to improve our website,, with increasing use of video, e-newsletters (more coming soon), social media and live events. We continue to build relationships with other media outlets, including,, and WCCO-AM. You can find selected stories from MinnPost and Bring Me the News on our website; you can hear us on ’CCO Mondays at 10:35 a.m. talking about the week’s most interesting business and economic issues, and semi-monthly, as regular contributors to the Sunday-afternoon News and Views program hosted by our Personal Brand columnist, Roshini Rajkumar.

We’ve grown from four live events last year to 12 (and possibly more) this year. Here, too, our focus is on providing a superior experience—from content and presentation to networking opportunities and attendees. They range from the extraordinary individuals just inducted into our Minnesota Business Hall of Fame in July—Lynn Casey, Pat Fallon, Mark Larson, Mark Sheffert and Bill Sweasy (watch their acceptance speeches and learn more about them here) to the four chief information officers who shared insights at our CIO Forum, including State of Minnesota CIO Carolyn Parnell, who’s done an incredible job consolidating systems and saving $27 million in taxpayers’ money. Other events coming up this year include:

  • Minnesota Family Business Awards, Nov. 12
  • Outstanding Directors Awards, Oct. 23
  • Re-employing our Vets, Nov. 18
  • Person of the Year, Dec. 4

Feel free to call our events coordinator Caitlin French, 612-336-9288, with questions.

Finally, it’s the time of year when we update you on how we’re doing relative to our peers in Minnesota and nationally. Here are some of the findings thus far:

2014 Society of Professional Journalists, Minnesota Page One Awards, Magazine

  • Best Issue, first and second place
  • Best Profile Story, third place: “Zimmern Incorporated,” by executive editor Adam Platt
  • Best Feature Story, third place: “Battle-Tested: Untapped Talent,” by senior editor Adam Wahlberg
  • Best Column, second place: “Open Letter” by Vance Opperman, owner and CEO of our parent company, MSP Communications.

2014 Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) Best in Business Awards, Magazine

  • Best Commentary, silver: “What About the Partners?” (February 2013 Editor’s Note)

2014 Alliance of Area Business Publications Editorial Excellence Awards, Magazine

  • Best of Show, bronze
  • Best Overall Design, bronze: art directors Chris Winn and Bret Ryan
  • Best Body of Work, silver: “Zimmern Incorporated”
  • Best Cover, bronze: “Collision Course,” Bret Ryan
  • Best Feature Layout, silver: “The Little Railroad That Won’t,” Bret Ryan

We’re proud that our accomplishments have been recognized. But there’s room for improvement, so, as always, please let me know if you’d like to see something tweaked, added or even replaced. In the meantime, I hope you find what we present in these pages, at our live events, in the e-newsletter Briefcase, and the website useful, informative, entertaining and enlightening.

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