THE BLOG

28
Feb

Five Tips For Making Your Office A Creative Space

oishii-studio-pics-08Our VP, Kate Canada Obregon, wrote a blog post on “Five Tips for Making Your Office a Creative Space,” which appeared in The Agency Post today.

An excerpt:

Here are five elements that can contribute to making your space the type of generative office that supports and amplifies creativity:

1. Familiar People

Researchers have demonstrated that collaborative work environments create happier and more productive employees. J. Richard Hackman, one of the world’s leading researchers on organizational behavior, found group work, particularly a familiar group, to be more productive when compared to individuals who worked alone. When a familiar group is encouraged to share ideas, hear other perspectives and receive constructive feedback, they report greater satisfaction with their job, their peers and culture.

2. Collision Brainstorming

Writing in the New York Times, Greg Lindsay observes that successful tech firms know the benefits of people coming together for an impromptu brainstorm via happy accidents and aggressively seek what Google calls the “casual collisions” or Yahoo’s “serendipity” meetings. This is because research strongly suggests that structured group work has limits. In the new context of an informal chat, the brain has a chance to re-engage and renew a problem, and possibly come up with new approaches or ways of thinking.

3. Solitary Creativity

Most neuroscience studies on creativity and problem-solving demonstrate the powers of intermittent group work coupled with “incubation” or quiet time and solo work. This is where the lounge and reading areas and ping-pong tables that startups are famous for come in. After a group meeting, the brain needs some distraction and ambient activity to reassess a problem or create. Neuroscientists such as Rex Jung and others have studied the brain in “action,” and observed what is called fluid or dynamic activity in the brain during quiet times of relaxation and calm, which could yield high creative output benefits.

4. Tactile Engagement

If you consume lots of data everyday and need to recall information quickly, there’s new research showing that keeping information slows down our ability to remember and process. One powerful method for what is called “embedding” information is getting tactile at work. Embracing the old-school pen and pencil during a meeting, or taking marginalia in a book can code information into our brains in ways that author Clive Thompson suggests are deeper and more meaningful than on touchscreens. That’s why writable walls, movable whiteboards and active work sessions are excellent ways at getting the brain and body physically involved in learning and doing, fostering neuron activity in the brain.

5. Good Reading Materials

A well-stocked library in your office gives people places to relax between projects, but reading has other powerful cognitive benefits. Recently, researchers at Emory University observed changes in the executive functional part of brain in fiction readers. Participants in the study showed heightened neural activity in the part of the verbal and visual sections of the brain when reading. So, not only were subjects able to “imagine” a character, they were able to activate senses in their brains — deepening their awareness and imaginative capabilities.

See more at The Agency Post.

21
Feb

Open Offices: Fostering Creativity or Killing Productivity?

Open OfficeFor 60 years, the open office floorplan has been both the standard and ideal for office design. Mirroring economic changes since the 1950s and into the 1990s, architects have designed work environments for the booming “knowledge industries,” spaces where people create and produce ideas as part of their company bottom lines.

Symbolically speaking, people like to work in open office spaces, because they report feeling connected to the company’s organizational mission and to their fellow office mates. These spaces do well at creating “communities.” And while the intangible benefits are apparent, studies conducted by organizational psychologists on large corporations show mixed results on the measures of productivity.

Workers in open offices complain most often about noise, loss of privacy and constant distraction. What open floorplans do really well for creative industries is provide two key components: Collisions and Quiet.

* Collisions or happy accidents among workers can happen anywhere from a meeting to lunch, coffee or a chance meet-up in the hallway. Researchers have shown that these collisions can be methods to generate fertile conversations and move along ideas previously discussed.

* Quiet is incubation time. Many problems or ideas people are tasked to bring to market require vast amounts of time. This is because the creative process has many stages, one of which is when ideas go into hiding, or into unconscious activity and emerges again in a new context; in a meeting, for example.

Kevin Johnson has said “Chance favors the well connected.” By that, we think he means the office that is open in connectivity, but also open to the processes required for real creativity and innovation.

We cannot create without other people. We are social animals. Some philosophers and scientists argue that physical and sensorial evocative environments act like our scaffolding into the world, giving us humans opportunities to deepen our brain activity and expand into the world.

What is your office experience like? Do you think it fosters collaboration and ideation?

14
Feb

How To “Think Like A Tourist”

Conference RoomMany people have asked us about the meaning behind the need to “think like a tourist” — a topic we’ve covered before on our blog. It sounds fun and slightly risky, but what is it? How does it help people come up with innovative solutions? Push along a brainstorming session? How does thinking help people think creatively?

“Thinking like a tourist” is what psychologists and scientists refer to as the attitude of perceptual innocence. Basically, it’s a learned method of thinking and ideation; of looking at ordinary objects around us, focusing on their details and then letting the mind wander gently to make connections, or even make remote or obscure links to the object. Once learned and practiced, it opens the door to playful thinking and experimentation, and can be brought back to any number of problems we are playing with on any given day.

Think of it this way: it’s like waking up in a new city. Walking out of your hotel room and tossing out the GPS. It’s taking in the smells, sights and sounds. Your senses see the ordinary sights in a new context. And in the process, you awaken new connections, such as finding the best corners to explore and visit.

There are any number of creativity techniques: divergent thinking, vertical thinking, and lateral ideation. Thinking about the ordinary in extraordinary ways opens up new possibilities, and takes us into the unknown.

Try this “tourist” technique today — and notice how differently your everyday world and situations look to you.

07
Feb

Seeing the World Through Kubrick’s Eyes

Inspired thinking starts with looking at the world differently. It can come from within ourselves, but it’s often more fun when it comes from artists — visual artists, such as Stanley Kubrick, for example. Kubrick invites us to see our daily lives by way of visual cues and patterns. It’s always a jolt to the system and at the same time, a hilarious (and enlightening) way to feel and experience.

Kubrick’s creative visionary mind and methods of thinking are akin to some of today’s tools:

• Boxes are a tangible version of Google and other search engines.

• His photography requests resemble Google maps.

• His late night memos resemble texts or tweets.

Just watch this documentary on Kubrick to see what we mean. And let us know what you think. How are you seeing the world in a different way?

Stanley Kubricks Boxes from JAVARING on Vimeo.


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