Want to increase your and your team’s creativity? Take them to a coffee shop

As this article shares Some of the most successful people in history have done their best work in coffee shops. Pablo Picasso, JK Rowling, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, Bob Dylan, or more recently Malcolm Gladwell are mentioned amongst many. But why? What does a coffee shop setting have to spark our creativity?

Being “outside”, outside of your usual place of work is one clear advantage to think in a fresh new way, less likely to repeat usual patterns. You and your team don’t see the same four walls or the same meeting room familiarity, you are hit with the stimuli of new surroundings. Additionally you are physically moving to a different place, and that in itself creates a stimuli, specially if the road to the cafeteria is short and in nice surroundings.

Furthermore things around you are moving, people are entering and existing and going to order.
Together with new scents, that special coffee you smell, everything stimulates more of your and your team’s senses and this pushes new creative triggers.

The ambient noise, as long as it is not too loud is good. “if you’re very slightly distracted from the task at hand by ambient stimuli, it boosts your abstract thinking ability, which can lead to more creative idea generation.”

If you usually work in an isolated place (e.g. your home office), then moving to a place where you will be sitting next to many others doing the same thing, either working or interacting, is more likely to encourage you to do the same “Just observing them can motivate you to work harder.”

Furthermore there is the informality: “let’s meet in a coffee place”, is a very different invitation then “let’s meet in the board room”. The tone will be more relaxed, the ideas will flow more freely and daringly.

So, not as an everyday working environment but for your creative sessions: try out that great cafeteria you pass by every day and in any case do take yourself and your team out of that usual office space for new ideas!

Innovation, unity and diversity: what does the rock band Queen teach us?

What kind of unity should we be seeking to be the most innovative, resilient, adaptive, successful organization?
A unity of vision with a diversity of ideas, views, attitudes and experiences might be the best balance.

Social media algorithms are feeding us more of what we want to hear; they are not enriching nor expanding our views, thus reinforcing ideas and not opening our minds.

This is also the case in teams where we want to reach consensus, we want to avoid disagreement feeling it is bad for the morale of the team. That we should not rock the boat for the good of the team’s unity.

Queen, is a rock band and an unlikely source to show how to best proceed.
“we are like a family, yet every song is a fight with a huge diversity of views” = is the recipe for success.
Brian May “There were lots of arguments about how much input everybody had. We were like four painters with a brush each but one canvas. There was conflict, but we got there.”

“We all influenced each other. That was the secret of Queen. We pushed and pulled each other, mercilessly.
We had a family relationship. It wasn’t always nice, because families aren’t always nice.
We sometimes said terrible things, but we got the best out of each other.”

From Queen, we hear about the sense of family, the four painters with four very different ideas, that one canvas where all of the ideas had to converge, the conflict, the pushing and pulling and getting the best out of each other.
So do create that unity of vision and allow the diversity of ideas, views, attitudes and experiences to make that vision happen.

Why you should bring a painting at work with you, to accelerate innovation

We are definitely living in crazy times but why should we do something crazy like … bringing a painting, ideally a physical one into your workplace? Not only bringing it there but then ask everyone in your team to observe it and ask “what do you see?”

What will surprisingly happen will be:
1. make us all better at observing,
2. make us better at analysing,
3. make us freer to creatively innovate

The painting is not the next crucial strategic decision you need to make, instead it is a surprising and non-threatening object that “does not belong” that lands in your office. This situation will open possibility and permission, curiosity and creative thinking. If you make this painting-observation / commenting session a habit, you will find that your own team will start to take decisions in a new way. They will be more observing before acting, they will be more creative in the useful options they will offer. The mood will feel freer and lighter; things will happen with less burden and effort.

It’s because you are opening more of your senses.

With most of our days, specially our working days, focused on productive tasks, your other all important senses are left dormant.
To be truly innovative you need to awaken all the latent abilities.
Ideally awaken them in all the people you work with.
Making the experience together with all the people you are interacting with will ensure that not just one or two people but that the full team will be moved to this new place. Behaviours and interactions will never be traditional, old, and obsolete anymore.