How to Change Your Business in One Day

You can do a lot in business in a short amount of time. Consider, for instance, that Timehop, the popular nostalgia app with 15 million users, was created in eight hours. Others, including Zaarly and Foodspotting, were hatched in one weekend.

If you can create a new company from whole cloth in such time, there's no reason why you can't change an existing business in one day. That's because change doesn't have to be an involved process. It's basically a decision to adopt a new mindset. People can fall in love in a day, a process that might affect the rest of their lives. Similarly, businesses can start on a new course in one day that will change them forever. All it takes is a willingness to embrace new ways of thinking.

That can happen on its own, but a catalyst can help jumpstart the process. Here are a few ideas:

1. Change the physical environment

We live in an age of distributed companies, but the vast majority of businesses still have a physical office. How workers perceive this environment has a huge impact on creativity and productivity. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology for instance found that natural lighting prompted positive moods, which are essential for creativity.

Lighting and design are just a few ways that you can change the physical surroundings. Another, simpler way is by putting up signs. Facebook's headquarters, for instance, has sported messaging such as "Move fast and break things," "The journey is only 1% done" and "What would you do if you weren't afraid?" that neatly express the company's goals and philosophy.

Google, meanwhile, has a large statue of a dinosaur on the Googleplex's campus in Mountain View, California, to remind employees that if the company doesn't change, it will become a dinosaur. The Googleplex also hosts statues of Donuts, Kit-Kats and a Gingerbread Man. They're all named after Android operating systems and underscore the results of their efforts.

2. Create a Pinterest board for inspiration that all employees can contribute to

This is a very easy way to provide a central repository of creative possibilities. The idea is that if employees see something innovative, they can post it on the company's Pinterest boards. It's worth recalling that some of the biggest business inspirations came from completely different fields. For instance, Mercedes built a car that was influenced from the design of a boxfish and Starbucks got its name from Moby-Dick.

3. Send employees on "safaris"

It can be tough to feel inspired in the same office every day. Luckily, many companies are based in interesting city centers in New York, Chicago and San Francisco, where the opportunities to find something inspiring are endless. Why not tell a group of employees to go on a "safari" to bring back new insights and observations? Or ask them to go out and take pictures of everything they find fascinating that could in some way have relevance to the business?

4. Book some speakers

Another way to stimulate ideas is to bring in some provocative thinkers to talk about their ideas. Google is famous for having everyone from author Salman Rushdie, Presbyterian preacher Tim Keller, innovative professional chefs, and to then-presidential candidate Barack Obama come in for talks. Grey Advertising has booked actress Uzo Aduba of Orange Is the New Black and self-styled computer nerd Alexander Rea.

5. Have a day of brainstorming

You can unleash your company's creativity and make it clear that everyone's opinion in the organization is valued by hosting a town meeting for brainstorming. For instance, employees can cite inspiration that they have seen in other industries, from competitors, or new ideas, process or service improvements they've been thinking about. Applying those lessons may not be obvious, but they are likely to open up new lines of thinking.

The common denominator for these activities is that they promote openness, a way to share ideas, a sense of fun and excitement, and they communicate that all employees' thoughts are valued. It only takes a day, but it institutionalizes a few simple process changes, and corporate values that will live on throughout the year of curiosity, constant observation for new ideas all around us and receptivity to new thinking.