Turn the tech off.
Screens, PowerPoint, Excel and smartphones are only good for productivity. Which sounds counter-intuitive.
But tech is Beta. All about getting the job done. Great for source material but terrible for originality of thought. Pinterest cannot and will not have the idea for you. And if it does then it isn’t original.
So switch off.
Digital distractions will keep you in Beta. Stopping you getting to Alpha.
Lose the executive table
Workshops very rarely work. And brainstorms too often become some other, less appealing kind of storm. Because they begin with a BETA foundation. An absolute, time-boxed desire to get stuff done. Not to be creative but to be productive. Which is rarely actually productive. Or creative.
Sitting round a big table in a formal setting is guaranteed to keep people in Beta. Change the environment and you change the way ideas can come.
Lose the stopwatch
Yes, we have deadlines. Ideas can’t take forever. But you do need to carve out enough time. And those of us for whom creativity is our primary commodity know that the more time we are given, the bigger the ideas will be.
Deadlines don’t usually lead to the best idea, just the best idea you can find before the bell rings. Pericles (mentor to Odysseus, so hardly a mental pygmy) had it right when he said, ‘Time is the wisest counsellor of all’.
The more time you have, the better the ideas will be.
While we’re on the anecdote train, let’s also listen to champion golfer Gary Player, who said “The harder I practice, the luckier I get”.
Aiming for fast is aiming for productivity not creativity. So, lose the stopwatch and remember ‘that’ll do will never do’.
Put some music on
Tuning in, especially to certain types of music, can affect your brain and boost your ability to have ideas because music stimulates the part of our brain that controls motor actions, emotions, and creativity.
Certain brain cells and chemicals are stimulated when listening to music, in particular, Dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter referred to as the “motivation molecule” and is involved in sending reward signals to our brains.
In essence, listening to music increases the brain’s level of Dopamine which makes us feel happier. And happy minds have better ideas.
A study by Goethe-Universität Frankfurt revealed that people who listen to music while performing a task have significantly higher scores in divergent thinking than those who perform the same tasks in silence.
Change the environment up
Immerse yourself in the problem in a physical way.
If you’re selling trainers, don’t just read about them, run in them. If your selling chocolate bars, taste them, meet the people that make them. If you’re selling a 4×4, put down the brochure and drive the bloody thing up a mountain. And if you can’t get face to face with the product at least move away from your desk.
Use breakout spaces.
Or even better, go and try a session outside. Sit on a park bench. Walk around a museum. Fresh perspective is key.
Sleep on it
If you’re trying to solve a problem and can’t. Go to bed. You might find a better solution in the morning. Sleep restructures memory, meaning we think about experiences in new ways. Sleep inspires insight. So, at the very least, take a power nap.
Sounds simple doesn’t it. And simplicity matters. But we’ll cover that next time.