The Leadership Forum

It might be a fairly obvious question. Or not.

Either way, I'm just interested in what you think.

The obvious bit is I think we'd all probably agree with the fact that environment does indeed have a massive impact on creative thinking. Even so, it's probably a worthwhile conversation to have. There is already a need in our organisations for creative thinking to keep us ahead, afloat, abreast etc. Personally, I believe there is a higher level of creative thinking required in organisations today than ever before and even more we should expect in the not too distant future.

So I'm really interested in what you think.

What are the impacts of environments? How do they help or hinder? How do we create and nurture creativity through environments? What do we do where creativity is blocked? How do we bust through challenges with creative thinking? Who does? And in all that, do we ever consider, I mean really consider, environment in relation to creative thinking? If we do, what do we consider?

I've a couple of examples that I'd like to chuck into the pot that I'll share with you over the coming weeks. But for now, I'm keen to leave that with you for your comments below.

What is the impact of environments on creative thinking?

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  • Honestly - I tend to have break-through moments (problem solving) or creative ideas on things I'm working on, talks I'm doing or have been thinking about in the shower. 

    I'm not sure whether too many employers would install showers though - although there are other benefits of this - i.e. exercising at lunch time to get those creative juices flowing before coming back to work - the alternative is stinking the office out of course. 

    On a serious note environment is key in the creative process but MORE importantly are the people and culture around you that you work with and in. You could have the most creative office in the world but fill it with uninspiring, process driven people who can't think differently or aren't willing to take risks and you'll get what you've always got.

    Creative thinking leads to innovation so its of massive importance that environment AND people are in the right balance. This in turn influences and creates the culture we work in.

    Here are some offices that are a bit different to what the masses might be use to. Looking at the pictures you get a sense of what the culture may be like...

    Coolest offices in the world

    • I like the balloon room - good link about the different offices. I once worked in a place with a ping pong table, the incessant noice of the ball on bat slowly drove me insane, so you know, horses for courses lol

    • I've just got lost in some of those coolest offices in the world. They're really cool. 

      Totally agree with culture and people being important too. What's your thoughts on how to go about creating a culture that empowers and inspires creativity?

  • Great question Ady. I've done a lot of work around creativity and accessing the right brain over the years and some of the really good stuff can be considered a bit "wacky". I often use imaginary mastermind groups to help solve tricky challenges.

    What I would say though If if you want creativity from your team you need a creative environment so often means going off site to a neutral location. And at risk of shocking a few readers, some of my best ideas have come when chatting over a few beers or glass or two of wine!

    You can't force creativity - you need to create the right environment for it to flow. Just make sure you take notes so you can remember what your bright ideas were in the morning.
    • Beers or wines? I'd never thought of that honestly. What a great idea. Interested in hearing more about these imaginary mastermind groups. Perhaps talk over a, er, beer!

      I think off-site works well for teams. I'm thinking more on an individual/small group basis too. Sometimes, those creative blocks are best lifted when you take a walk out and change the scenery. I've often wondered what would happen if you take a small group meeting out of the four walls and carry it out on the move. Walking and talking.

      • Yes "walking meetings" (rather than booking a room) were advocated in our work place a few years ago. The trouble is it stops people making notes and only really works if it a meeting between 2 people. 

        I am with Mike a bit - I have break through moments when out running or walking either in a small group or alone. One of my university lecturers recommended it to his students. I have since learnt that better oxygenated blood increases the oxygen in the brain, which enhances its activity.

        I used to go out for a gentle walk/run with a colleague from a different part of the business. Partly to keep fit, partly to mentor my colleague, but also to learn about the challenges of his role. From listening to him I learnt a lot and our chats gave me a wider perspective on my workplace which helped me to ensure any ideas I had were more widely applicable.

        I think mingling with colleagues from completely different parts of the business is fantastic in helping people get new insights which may well lead to good new ideas. Knowledge sharing is essential. "Lunch 'n Learns" are good for that, with a nice spread to encourage people to stay after the presentation/workshop/seminar.

        In terms of environment - if enhanced oxygen to the brain really does promote thinking processes and generation of ideas, perhaps "thinking" rooms could be fed with a slightly enhanced oxygen mix through the air conditioning? Or perhaps you could don "a thinking cap" when you felt the need, which force fed an enhanced gas mix over your face. Sounds a bit futuristic perhaps but why not eh? In scuba diving I sometimes use an enhanced air mix to reduce nitrogen uptake on shallow dives - it is known as "nitrox". People come out from a strenuous dive all zingy and bouncy and fit for anything after using it! :)

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