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Fortune cookie of gratitude

Starting off each day with knowing what teammates are grateful of.

Photo of Jae Min
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In the research phase, I learned that it is important to make team members feel valued and acknowledged in the workplace without taking too much time out of their work. My idea derives from fortune cookie, which is something quick and simple. 

At the end of work each day, every member will write one or two sentences on what they felt grateful of and submit it to google survey form. This expression should not be towards a specific person, rather it should be written generally about the actions or experiences that lead to gratitude. One manager will print each response on a small paper and will place it next to the front entrance door or a coffee machine. Each morning, each member will grab and read one response as they enter the workplace. 

Idea Title

Fortune cookie of gratitude

How the Idea will inspire the experience and expression of gratitude within an organization.

This idea will allow people to get an insight on what team members are grateful of without taking too much of their time. From very small and detailed things to larger scale things, reading these responses each day will reinforce, or even inspire what team members value within the workforce. If one of the responses say they were grateful of someone holding the door for them, the reader will become more conscious of holding doors for others in the future. By repeating this everyday anonymously, no one is forced to practice gratitude. Rather, it serves as a reminder that small acts of kindness are not taken for granted by team members.

Who are you innovating for?

I am innovating this for everyone in the workforce. Within this idea, everyone is equal. Whether you are a team manager or an intern, it is only based on acknowledging gratitude in the work place. I believe expression of gratitude starts from knowing what "gratitude" is. By reading about what team members are grateful of, they can be more aware of what team members value and appreciate. After knowing what is valued, they will become more conscious to reinforce acts of gratitude.

What type of workplaces are you innovating for?

I am innovating for smaller organizations where every member works in the same place. This ensures that responses will be relevant to everyone. However, this may also work in a larger companies if this activities are done within each section of the company. It is also recommended in a smaller work place because I assume that responses will become very general if this is done in a larger work place. I am aiming for more personal responses without revealing who the person was.

How you envision the Idea being introduced to your selected organization?

Since this activity requires a small effort from every member, it will be more effective for team manager to initiate this activity. I will contact my lab manager first and she can forward the message to rest of lab members. Also, I believe in order to implement any ideas in a work place, it must be approved by the manager first. As long as my lab manager approves this idea, I will go ahead and create a google survey form and prepare responses for everyone to read. However, since everyone does not come into the lab everyday, this will be done each week. Responses are collected on Friday and given out on Monday.

What obstacles, if any, do you foresee in implementing this Idea, and how would they be overcome?

If there is a lot of team members, it may be time consuming for one person to collect and print responses. This could be overcome by taking turns within team members. Also, if one person forgets to submit a response, one person will not end up getting a response the next morning. By designating a time for members to take 5 minutes at the end of each day to write about what they are grateful of, it will allow them to think about things that they could've taken for granted and write about it.

How will you test and prototype your solution?

I would like to implement this idea in a local start up company. I will reach out to several start up companies in Ann Arbor and ask them to fill out a survey before and after the fortune cookie of gratitude activity. Survey will consist of short responses that describes their working environment. For this prototype, it will last approximately 1 week.

What immediate next steps will you take if you receive an implementation grant.

I will reach out to start up companies outside of Ann Arbor to participate in my fortune of cookie activity. By compensating their time with grant that I received, I would like to receive more responses on how this activity turned out in their company.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

My idea emerged from brainstorming OpenIDEO research phase combined with my experience eating at a Chinese restaurant. Although showing gratitude is important, I learned that it should not take too much out of their time and cost too much. My idea sparked while eating at a Chinese restaurant because fortune cookies was something cheap and simple, yet it was entertaining with good message. I believe I could transition this idea to workplace with gratitude messages.

Tell us about yourself

I am a student at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Where are you / your team located?

Ann Arbor, Michigan


Join the conversation:

Photo of Shawn Ye

The fortune cookie to express gratitude idea is very brilliant and innovative. In addition to time saving and reinforcement of positive behaviors, the fortune cookie also express one's effort and emotional support. It is always important to express gratitude with some amount of effort, so the other party would feel the empathy.

Photo of Daniel Miyares

Thanks so much for sharing your idea, Jae! I enjoyed reading your post, and I haven't seen anything like this idea in any of my time working on this challenge. I was wondering how you would reconcile the idea of general, anonymous expressions of gratitude with the importance of affirming and championing individual contributions in the workforce. Often, the most powerful experiences of affirmation come from personal and direct conversations which directly tie the gratitude to the recipient. Do you think that similar benefits can be generated from anonymized gratitude, and how? Could this solution be iterated to reveal the intended recipient of the gratitude at a later time, to get the benefits of both anonymity and personal feedback?

Photo of Nausheen

This is such an interesting perspective on expressing gratitude; gratitude can come from within and be expressed outward and still be a form of appreciation and really change the internal culture of a company. I think it would be beneficial to consider how management will respond to this added responsibility and how to communicate the importance of this idea. Perhaps you can present them with statistics on how gratitude increases quality of work and motivation.