Tag: creativity

13
Mar

The Creative Work Series: Part 3

    What's your inner creative process?

In creative professions, nothing kills imagination like a juicy ideology.

An ideology is a set of beliefs, ideas, and expectations widely held in an industry, company or office. Ideologies conceal themselves as conventional wisdom. They feel habitual and natural.  Sometimes ideologies are “best” practices in agencies few openly question. You’ve probably experienced an ideology at the office: “We use x method for our brainstorming, presentation, pitch or creative work sessions… that’s just our process; I don’t know why…it just is.”

It’s not always easy to recognize ideologies in creative work. That’s because rules and conventional thinking don’t apply to jobs that ask people to run into the frontier of imagination. Creative work is highly personal, idiosyncratic, messy and peppered with gray areas. And yet there are methods and tools to pull forming ideas onto screens, pages, conversations, meetings, and whiteboards.

There’s safety in Conventional Wisdom

In creative work, and in agencies, in particular, a few big “idea” systems are popular right now. Design thinking, postmodern, neuroscience-driven design are big buzzy ideologies we’ve all come across.  Of course, best practices are vital processes for creative work, that isn’t a problem, what company couldn’t use a system to get everyone collaborating and creating together?  At the heart of design thinking, for example, are kernels of practical truths creatives can use—changing habits in terms of capturing high-quality creative ideas, style, technique or approach.

I’m not calling out the icons in creativity, neuroscience, or design thinking.  I’m interested in opening up a dialogue about how we adapt and accept tools in creative fields. How we often dismiss our internal mushy hunches and follow convention. How tips or wisdom meant to free our minds become roadblocks.

In fact, my aim here is the opposite of criticism, it’s a dialogue.  It’s important to question and turn over popular ideas, separate them out from the what’s mere marketing filler. As any creative will tell you, coming up with novel ideas requires flexibility. The best creatives are eager to test out new tools or processes. But we shouldn’t cleave to an idea because everyone in the office loves it unquestionably.

 High-Stakes Creative 

Creative work is a high-stakes trade.  It’s applied imagination with expectations of a big return on investment. Corporations want creative brand, marketing, products, words, visuals, logo, design, and thinking done on their behalf out in the world.  Creativity adds equity, contributes to bottom lines and boosts shareholder confidence.  Research shows that creative advertising and content tends to be more effective and memorable than tradition-bound ads. People enjoy and remember what’s novel, strange or delightful. This matters in our crowded public sphere.

For on-the-ground creatives the pressure’s on to ideate, produce, perform and scale new aesthetic and experiential heights. I’ve talked to amazing and talented people who describe feelings of dread and excitement with assignments. They feel pressure to run out into the frontiers of what’s possible, making sure consumers or audiences, like, buy, share and circulate.

The creative product, they say, must look original, radically inventive and beyond the corners of the assignment with ROI.  An ask worthy of an existential sigh.

With these expectations, creatives seek out the latest tools, coaches, tips, hacks, models, programs. Anything promising creative empowerment.

Don’t Default To Others

Lots of strategists and designers come through our offices, and some speak authoritatively and enthusiastically to the disruptive qualities of design techniques, a leader they love or the latest news in design thinking. We listen and politely nod. We don’t judge. We get it.

It’s hard to resist cleaving to beliefs we think matter to decision makers. When knowing design best practices and trends can tip the scales in your favor, who wouldn’t want to talk expertly about the new tools in creative and professional worlds?

As I listen to talented creatives, the conversations are always smart and interesting. Even if some people stumble on how exactly they’ve applied design thinking or other similar frameworks to projects, I still eagerly listen.  After these interviews or talks, my mind goes to Pablo Picasso’s summary of his creative process. “I close my eyes and begin.” Closing the eyes, to me, means turning off the surface layers of brain chatter and venturing into the quieter, unknown parts of the brain. Shutting off ideologies, beliefs and what everyone else is doing.

You’re Creative Signature

There’s a radical equality in creative professions we overlook. It begins with our interior process. Our imagination, flashes of ideas, hunches, skills we’ve honed transformed into stories, campaigns, plans,  buildings, projects, products-you name it.   Any tool teaching methods, systems we use can only channel our raw materials.  A teacher or tool isn’t creativity.

Writer Zadie Smith describes these raw materials as a signature of skill, flexibility, skill and sheer will.

When I meet creative colleagues I’m more likely to ask questions along the lines of  ‘What books are you reading? What’s your latest piece of technology? What assignment taught you the most about your skill level? What manager/leader inspired you to tweak your skill set? What’s the most important creative fail of your career, so far?’  These questions set the stage for design thinking or any thinking for that matter.

In other words, creativity and imagination start with the what’s inside our heads.  What’s known, latent and lurking.

I think where creative ideologies fail most for people is when they default to what others believe over their own intuition and knowledge.  Instead, let’s look inside. What’s our signature creative talent, skill, curiosity, capabilities? This translates into action: What are we reading, doing, experimenting, studying, thinking about? In what ways are our eyes set on stretching our capabilities and frontiers into the new?

That’s a creative ideology we should all endorse.

17
Apr

From The Oishii Ideation Lab: Is Your Creative Passion Killing Your Team?

Harness the Power of Creativity with a Dash of Kindness

photo courtesy of magdeleine.com

photo courtesy of magdeleine.com

Mark Twain once said, “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Replace the word “kindness” with “creativity,” and it’s easy to see that these unique forms of expression are remarkably homologous to the human experience.

No wonder kindness plays such an important role in the creative field –- from the collaborative environments in which we work to the paths we choose to find the next big idea.

Look at the captivating process of brainstorming, for instance. We tend to approach it through an overly optimistic and empowering lens. It make us feel like innovators in action – unleashing the power of our brains, attacking the problem while developing something new.

You could say that brainstorming is an art in and of itself. After all, you’re setting the stage for success while managing collateral damage that we humans are seemingly wired to instill in one another. It’s a high stakes environment: team members, peers, and bosses who are watching, listening and evaluating our ideas.

At the same time, like any human activity, we’re both at our best and worst when idea-generating. This usually means reality blends with our own fictive understanding of ourselves: what we think we are capable of in a whiteboard session. As Friedrich Nietzsche so exquisitely described us humans, “In conversation we are sometimes confused by the tone of our own voice, and mislead to make assertions that do not at all correspond to our opinions.”

At some point, kindness has to find its way into the process.

On a practical level, Alex Osborne, founder of the modern brainstorm work session, believed that idea-generation required rules to ensure people participated and felt a part of the group. Why? Because empathy and kindness are gateway traits to working well together. It’s a theory that’s well-documented by neuroscientists today. Kindness fosters an open, collaborative and alert mind, allowing us to think at a high level. It let’s us go beyond petty differences and transcend resentment and everyday slights.

Playing Nice with Nanci Besser

photo courtesy of IMCreator.com

photo courtesy of IMCreator.com

Convergence is tricky. Working towards a common goal, creating a prototype, a beta project or campaign means people must work together. But convergence is tricky.

As emotions, feelings and temperaments merge – and, even, collide – neuroscience shows us the value of empathy to offset it. We’ve asked author and teacher Nanci Besser to shed some light on this through the value of emotional intelligence in the brainstorming session:

A common misconception is that kindness equates with being “nice” and granting another his or her “way.” Looking within the parameters of emotional intelligence and mindfulness, it may be ascertained that kindness involves solving problems and fulfilling needs by creating space for an outcome that is bigger than any individual ego.

Being kind is meeting someone where he or she is at, in terms of his or her state of mind. The ability to expand your perceptions to include the ideas of another requires an empathic approach. To many, the notion of conflict tends to convey a negative connotation.

However, conflict in and of itself is a neutral state. It is only our interpretations that assign a negative or positive attribute to its existence. Passivity is not the gateway to promote innovation and creativity. Only through sifting through seemingly conflicting perspectives with kindness do we answer the greatest of creative enigmas.

It is possible to garner support for your point of view without negating someone else’s dreams. In an ideal collaborative environment, there are no inherently “wrong” ideas in a brainstorming session. Some conceptions are a better fit than others and, like cream, they will rise to the top without external manipulation.

Regardless of the industry or group demographics, if everyone embraces the process of conflict, rather than attempt to usurp the outcome to favor his or her position, the possibility for genuine synergy exists. Through employing constructive empathic communications motivated by an intention of kindness, the sum might be bigger than its individual parts. In other words, 1+1 could equal 3.

Author, Speaker, Teacher
“Go Kindly (TM)”
E: nancibesser@gmail.com
Visit http://www.nancibesser.com
Connect http://www.linkedin.com/in/nancibesser/
Twitter: @nancibesser

20
Feb

Clean, Simple and Effective: Five Visual Design Lessons from Edward Tufte

Photo Courtesy of www.edwardtufte.com

Photo Courtesy of www.edwardtufte.com

Working in visual creative is our profession, so how people see, think and process is at the core of our business. We are devoted to merging design with technology and how people relate to the world. So, of course, we are continuously inspired by data visualization expert Edward Tufte, or the “Galileo of Graphics,” as Businessweek once dubbed him. “ET,” as he calls himself, is an artist, statistician and artist, and Professor at Yale, who’s written, designed and self-published four books on data visualization. He’s worked with everyone from IBM to The New York Times to NASA, all in an effort to better deliver information.

Although ET primarily works in numbers and charts, at the heart of his analysis and lessons, is the universal language of creativity — storytelling. ET may specialize in beautifully expressing data, but at its core, it’s still telling a story, something we’re striving to do every day. And the similarities extend from there. Ultimately, ET has many theories on good design, especially this one, from his book Envisioning Information: “Clutter is a failure of design, not an attribute of information.” Here are five more lessons we can apply from ET’s teachings:

Edward Tufte Photo Courtesy of www.edwardtufte.com

Edward Tufte
Photo Courtesy of www.edwardtufte.com

Allow for Solitude
Tufte is a champion of forcing audiences to “see without words,” which he explains requires a clear mind. In order to achieve this empty state of openness, sometimes, we need solitude, or at least quiet as our brains aren’t very good at multitasking while engaging in deep, contemplative thought and communication. So deep seeing requires a fairly certain serenity of one’s self, but also a serene environment. And in that way, all the brain’s processing power can veto into seeing.

Don’t Dictate How Others See Things
Tufte warns that designers and marketers often underestimate their audiences, and thus attempt to over-explain with their design, which results in unnecessary clutter and labels that stop the audience from having their own reading of the art, instead only seeing what’s been presented to them. Trust in your audience and let them explore your design on their own. You’ll both be much happier.

Don’t Follow The Trends
Tufte has spent his life pursuing the documentation of “forever knowledge,” or guiding principles for design and data visualization that are not dissimilar to scientific principles in that they can be tested and stand the test of time. Tufte doesn’t believe in following design trends; instead, he encourages you to pursue classic designs that can stand the test of time. This isn’t to say that trends are without merit in our industry, but we should carefully pick and choose which, and how, to integrate.

Approach Design from the Outside In
Good design, according to Tufte, can speak to anyone. As mentioned earlier, this doesn’t mean that we should underestimate our audience and present a watered-down version of anything; alternately, we should consider what they really need and design from there, rather than letting the technology dictate the design. So, just because you have access to Oculus Rift doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for all projects.

Inspiration Can Come From Anywhere
ET cites Swiss Alps maps and traffic controllers’ hand signals as two of his favorite, most inspiring visuals. Okay, so maybe for a numbers geek like Tufte a map makes sense, but the fluorescent cones? They’re a language unto themselves; visual communications parsed down to the most clean and simple level allowed for. You never know what’s going to speak to you, so don’t rule any experience out. You may think you don’t have time to go for that morning surf, but when you’re out on the water, rolling with the waves might just be when the much-needed inspiration strikes.

02
Feb

Dare to Aspire: Working at the Intersection of Creativity and Ambition

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/Alfred Lilypaly

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/Alfred Lilypaly

As creatives, we’re always working toward to the next great thing — the next project, the next pitch, the next award. But with our packed schedules and competitive industry, it’s easy to get to caught up in the day-to-day of meetings, deadlines, and output, that we often aren’t able to stop and ask ourselves, “What are we really aspiring to?”

Recently, we completed a new show open for E!’s hit series, “Fashion Police,” and found ourselves focusing on the aspirational nature of fashion for the open’s theme. The fashion industry is driven by an unabashedly honest mandate to be aspirational. As much for designers and brands as for the consumers they create for. Aspiration, along with motivation and inspiration, is a key part of the trifecta that’s essential for any company to grow, but it’s not where we usually place our emphasis in our industry.

As brand marketers and designers, we operate at the intersection of business and creative, equally influenced by both industries. In the business world, the focus is on a very outward, but down-reaching goal of how to increase motivation from interactive programs and books to motivational speakers. In the creative world, we put so much emphasis on where we get our inward inspiration, via conferences and award shows, design annuals and publications. Both have their place, certainly, but without the key ingredient of the forward-thinking key of aspiration, we’re losing an opportunity to focus on long-term change.

We focus so much on motivating employees and inspiring good ideas, but do we really focus on our own aspirations for our company? Maybe we should take a cue from that industry and as entrepreneur Curt Hanke puts it, be a little more “naked with our ambitions.”

But to really be sure we’re incorporating aspiration into our company’s mandate, it’s important to understand how motivation, inspiration and aspiration differ. Motivation is a complex driver that governs much of our life, especially our basic needs. It can be summarised as “the desire to do things.” It can be biological (“I’ve got to finish this project by lunch because I’m hungry and need to eat.”) or psychological (“I’ve got to finish this project by lunch because it was due last week, and I don’t want to get fired.”) Within this context, aspiration can be seen as a “long term hope” or “goal.” Your aspirations can motivate you to work hard and get things done to achieve your further reaching goals (“I’ve got to finish this project by lunch because I want to start working on the idea that will make me the next Leo Burnett.”). While inspiration is a sometimes fleeting injection of some higher reaching creative that we’re trying to make accessible on our own level, budget, time or talent-wise.

Aspiration is about raising the bar from within. That’s why it’s important to revisit your aspirations on a regular basis, whether for your career or your company. And, by keeping your aspirations as goals at the forefront of your company’s mission and feeling proud enough to share them with your partners, employees and collaborators, you’re essentially broadcasting your confidence in your own brand. So, even if our wardrobes haven’t changed much since the ‘90s, maybe we should all aspire a little to be more like the fashion industry and reach a little higher.

09
Jan

Winter Offers Creatives Opportunities To Quiet The Busy Mind: Are You Listening?

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Creative Commons, John Lagzo

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Creative Commons, John Lagzo

With the arrival of a new year, we are filled with anticipation and excitement. We can feel transition working its way through our minds and into our desks; the old giving way to the new, the future’s blank slate awaiting our touch, time and efforts.

Many of us make the mistake of turning our focus to lists of highly structured goals in the new year. And often when we share them with others, we conflate our anticipation and discussion for change with actual change. Instead of approaching 2015 with a list of resolutions and to-dos, try starting it off by doing nothing.

A difficult concept for those in our laborious and demanding industry, but this liminal time is a great opportunity to rethink our creative craft. We don’t often get opportunities to settle into the terrains of our minds, relax and daydream, or step back and ponder how we ply our trade.

But we must.

For one, the idea that long days and nights will fuel our creative selves is simply not true. On the contrary, we must recede into our brains and engage the senses. Because, whether you’re daydreaming, reading or listening to music, a relaxed and diffused mind reinvigorates creativity.

For creators of every stripe, it’s an always-looping process of doing work and then stepping back to prime the pump, so to speak, and starting all over again; it’s how we re-acquaint our talents with our profession.

The good news is, you can start 2015 by creating an atmosphere of productivity and energy, bringing vigor and awareness to your work. So, keep some of the following in mind as you clear out your calendar.

First, you have to fully appreciate the value of doing nothing for your creative work. Most artists visualize their creative preparation as “time out of time,” such as being out of sync with schedules, offices, obligations, phones, or the demands of our narrowly focused attention. Writer Don DeLillo describes this as transitioning into a new world. Ancient philosopher Plato so revered the time for creativity and thinking that he thought artists and philosophers shouldn’t be attached to any form of work because it took them away from contemplating “the good life.”

Writer Henry Miller thoroughly plotted his time spent prepping to work. He scheduled time in cafes, chats with friends and even booked himself solo explorations of whichever city he happened to be visiting. Time to doodle, draw graphs, diagrams and charts were ways Miller relaxed his mind to broaden his perspective and ease back into the work of holing up to write.

We can apply these same principles to the cluster of days at the beginning of the New Year, when colleagues and clients are still transitioning back into the workflow and meetings and schedules are noticeably, but temporarily light.

We must harness that crux of excitement and possibility with the openness of time we are temporarily allowed. Unfettered and unabashedly unproductive thinking fuels your creative work. It provides the big picture and the background noise for your creative process.

So, rather than spending that precious free time poring over upcoming budgets, projects and strategy, clear your calendar for nothing. Nothing except time spent to remember how you create.

08
Aug

Anti-Social: When It’s Time to Step Away From Social Media

Image courtesy of http://rubiconn.com/

Image courtesy of http://rubiconn.com/

Recently, we touched upon the importance of giving yourself a break from social media as frequent usage is linked to lower productivity levels and even depression. But why is it so hard for us to disconnect?

While we know part of the reason is that gaining positive feedback on social media, such as likes and retweets, activates the area of the brain associated with pleasure, part of our problem may be rooted in the Industrial Revolution.

As the 19th Century economy took shape, machines introduced us to a world where quick, fast and scale were the marked steps to success. Soon, we started thinking of humans as machines, too. And as scientists studied the mind and body, they applied principles from mechanics and business together. Human habits, traits and personalities were “mechanical” including our brain’s workings.

Over the years, that has translated into a society where we no longer give ourselves permission to disconnect, treating an internet sabbatical as a luxury reserved for (some) vacations, while humbly bragging about our need to be tethered to our phones. We have trained ourselves to be always on and always available, often confusing our time spent online for productivity. In fact, as reported by Business Insider, Americans now spend more time on social media sites than any other online activity, including checking email, with 60% of that traffic coming from smartphones and tablets.

And considering the growing number of social media detox programs, from China’s more than 200 hardcore military-style boot camps to a Scottish Island social media-free experiment, taking extreme measures to break this addiction is becoming more and more popular.

And maybe we need it. According to the Badoo-produced study “Social Lives vs. Social Selves,” 39% of Americans spend more time socializing online than in person. While social media can be an incredibly useful tool for keeping up with clients and colleagues, it shouldn’t replace good, old-fashioned face-to-face interactions.

So, what can you do if your job doesn’t allow you to disconnect completely? Well, you can take babysteps.

Establish Social Media Free Time. Maybe it’s during your lunch break, or perhaps you go offline for an hour after dinner, but the more you schedule time to be off (or on) social media, the easier the habit will become to break.

Make Facebook-Free Zones. Maybe you don’t allow yourself to go online when you’re lying in bed or during your morning commute. Whatever part of your life provides you with the most zen space, make that area social-free.

Get Help. No, we’re not saying you’ve got to go to an island for a week, but if you really can’t help yourself, try installing an app or web blocker to help rid you of distractions.

And if all else fails, maybe it’s time to check out one of those boot camps after all.

 

01
Aug

It’s Summer: Daydream!

DaydreamSummer months are ideal occasions for creative ideation. As work colleagues go on holiday, and frenzied schedules relax, there are more chances for what I call unstructured creative work — ideation time without overly planned, organized and managed schedules. It’s the time to daydream, wander and to get bored. Yes, that’s right, get bored for a creative purpose.

Creativity — whether in the science, design or agency worlds — demands freedom to play and wander, and our over-scheduled and hectic daily routines don’t leave room for deep, creative work. What we know of as “aha” moments happen because you’ve just connected lots of seemingly unrelated dots that have been steeping in your unconscious over time. Think of it this way: Suddenly, the science exhibit you’re viewing brings to mind the Transformers movie you just saw and that blends with a song you heard a few weeks ago at a party. And, “aha,” seemingly out of nowhere, you came up with the perfect idea for tomorrow morning’s data visualization presentation.

That’s creativity. Taking seemingly unrelated things and combining them together to make something new. The creative process is a complex orchestration and neuroscientists are only beginning to map out the relationship between creativity and the unconscious. We do know that for the most creative and productive minds, incubation takes time and involves several steps and processes.

In a recent article in the Atlantic, researcher Nancy Andreasen studied the most “prolific” writers to see if she could see patterns and processes in highly productive minds. Andreasen found that the most productive creatives ideate, prepare and incubate. In other words, they work, ponder and engage their curiosity and produce. They’ve got room to roam and they use it cleverly.

But, as we understand from experience, the unconscious process and its strengths don’t always fit into standardized work schedules, and, in fact, many people and companies hold negative opinions, judgments and associations with daydreaming, the vital element in the creative incubation process. Sometimes, people are judged as unproductive or lazy when they don’t seem to be hitting a mark; when they aren’t relentlessly “producing” heaps of “things.”

That’s because we live in a culture that defines creativity by metrics and outputs. Fortunately, this notion is changing as pioneers of the unconscious, like neuroscientist Scott Barry Kaufman, are studying the activities of the brain where creativity emerges, and in the process, are challenging conventional notions about daydreaming and slackers who want to take a nap after lunch.

But even as science helps to evolve our understanding and relationship with our generative powers of innovation, convergent thinking and originality is elusive. In the abstract, we love it, admire it and try to fit it into schedules. But in the practical sense, sometimes we just have to give ourselves a little flexibility to go off schedule and zone out with our thoughts for a while. So, take advantage of the long warm days and empty quiet offices, and give yourself some space to ruminate.

It’s summer. Go daydream!

18
Apr

Generative Spaces: The Effects of an Open Office Floor Plan

Image via The Agency Post

Image via The Agency Post

Our VP, Kate Canada Obregon, recently wrote a guest blog post for The Agency Post sharing Five Tips for Making Your Office A Creative Space, but where did the idea for an open office floor plan come from?

In her latest article for The Agency Post, she discusses The Effects of an Open Office Floor Plan:

Here are some excerpts:

“…one of the office features we often mistakenly attribute to startups is the open office plan. We tend to equate this setup with the startup attitude of free-flowing space, an open atmosphere and equality of space. But for 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 research shows that intangible benefits are apparent, studies conducted by organizational psychologists on large corporations show mixed results on measures of productivity. Workers in open plan offices complain most often about noise, loss of privacy and constant distraction.

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. When building an environment that supports and amplifies creativity, though, it’s important to keep in mind that the best solution usually isn’t an open floor plan.

Creative spaces require different setups for different mindsets: fun areas for unconscious processing; reflexive spaces where minimal thinking can go on, and reflective spaces wherein people must go beyond superficial thinking to find those kernels of creative thinking.

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?


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