For one of those high school projects where you have to invent a new product, I created rolls of toilet paper with fun factoids printed on them. I harkened back to our spare bathroom at home that was wallpapered in maps of the world. We spent a lot of time learning geography while sitting in that space, so why couldn’t a manufacturer provide learning opportunities in more restrooms by printing on the tissues?

I thought of this the other day when I purchased a package of napkins that came printed with questions on them. Instead of educational facts, these wipes were designed to stimulate conversation, posing questions such as: “What’s the most ridiculous thing you heard today?”, “You get to make the rules, what are they?” and “You’re a world traveler. What’s your next stop?”

Why don’t more paper products take advantage of their ubiquity and add some value to their functionality? Think of how you could use conversational napkins with refreshments at a meeting or reception. Maybe they serve as the icebreaker at your next function or just create some laughs in the lunchroom. Or perhaps you could you tailor questions to a specific event or have simulations that relate to your company (eg: “How have you implemented _____ core value today?”).

Whether you use packaged (Mardi Gras brand) products or create your own, don’t overlook the opportunity for napkins to do more than wipe.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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