Tag Archives: creativity

Where Do Good Ideas Come From?

Interesting Questions

There are a few questions which frequently circle my mind. The patterns, speed and shape of their orbit changes according to what I am working on, but they’re nearly always there, somewhere. Questions like, How much is enough? Why am I not kinder? Is she really going out with him? Where do I find clarity? Where do good ideas come from?

Come and Play

Together with some friends, I am exploring that good ideas question through an emerging project called The Art of Innovation. ‘What’s that then?’ I hear you ask. Very briefly, it is a project designed to explore the space where the arts meet business, in pursuit of changing lives for the better. If you are in London on June 8th – we’re running a workshop and a free to attend Art of Innovation session at a lovely venue overlooking the River Thames. You can find out more about that, and book a place here. OK, enough of that, where was I?

Blending

Something I have become much more aware of in recent years, is the idea that doing something different, sparks and prompts other thoughts, ideas, and actions. Take three things I enjoy doing, walking, my art, and my work. Previously, in that elusive search for clarity – I’ve tended to see these things as separate entities. Keep them separate, keep things clear… In December 2015, I began to integrate walking into my work more intentionally, in that I would make time for a regular stroll most days. The trigger was a Fitbit which I got for Christmas, and once I got over my tendency to be gamed by technology, I settled from a hectic ‘oh my god I must walk round the kitchen another 20 times before I go to bed to hit 10,000 steps’ mania into a more fluid, useful rhythm.

In time I began to realise that the walk influenced and affected my work, and vice versa. They blend, not always, but often. Sometimes the blend produces useful ideas immediately relevant to a work problem I am wrestling with, sometimes the ideas are daft/stupid/lousy/beautiful/adventurous, and any combination of all of the above. Sometimes there are no ideas. I dropped my guard, allowed the walk and the work to speak with each other, and as a result, got better at both (trust me, you should see the way I now put one foot in front of the other, it’s awesome).

Sparking

In April 2016 I began my free art adventure. I walked to the train station and on the way, I placed a piece of art I’d made, outside the local town hall. Attached to the note was an invitation to whoever found the art, to take it home if they wanted to. The project continues, at least once a week I make and leave art in my local community. The adventure is unfolding in so many ways that to write about it here, would a) wear my fingers to stumps and b) risk boring you to death. I will write more about the project, and for now, it’s useful for the purposes of this blog post, to know it exists.

In truth – the adventure started some time before that. What sparked it? Maybe it was the hand painted postcards I made for friends while on holiday, it may have been the first Leap Day I ran in 2012? Who knows – I guess an important thing to note is that good ideas sometimes start from a specific point, other times, they are a combination of almost invisible threads, gradually winding together into a rope which can be more clearly seen.

The free art project began with the intention of helping me learn to let go, to see more beauty in impermanence, and as a way of building some discipline into my previously sporadic artistic adventures. As I continued to work on the project, I let it infuse my consulting work, and vice versa. I’ve used art in my consulting work for years now, so this is not a new thing, but it is now much more intentional. Lowering barriers, seeing what I do as something more fluid, more dynamic, less separated. A recent example of this blending in practice can be seen here, as I used art to relieve some stress, and to help me prepare for a conference presentation. The project has recently won a community award and attracted a small amount of grant funding. It has become a simple and effective way of changing lives for the better.

The more that what I do becomes a series of overlapping, meandering, ebbing and flowing plates, the more interesting things emerge. As I conclude this post, I’m preparing for conference talks, workshops, artist open studios, and an exciting 3 day artistic experiment involving 200 senior managers keen to explore how to apply creativity and innovation in their work. At the heart of this work is a simple yet powerful raison d’etre. The primary reason myself and my associates do this stuff, is to change lives for the better. More to follow, soon.

Footnote

Sorry, I almost forgot. Where Do Good Ideas Come From? They come from you. And they come from this fantastic book by Scott Berkun.

 

 

Noise Annoys

I often hear noise being described as ‘unwanted sound’. As someone who grew up listening to a lot of punk music, I’m not sure it’s quite as simple as that. Sitting upstairs in my bedroom, I was frequently yelled at to turn off the noise noise noise, stop kicking up a racket, etc. This stuff wasn’t (and still isn’t) unwanted to me, and I readily accept it’s not everyone’s idea of good music.

Fortunately for you – I usually enjoy my music when I’m working alone, or with headphones on – so it needn’t trouble you, but what about the noise that’s not so easy to avoid? How does that affect you, particularly when you’re trying to work?

I met Paige Hodsman at the Workplace Trends conference last year. Paige works for Ecophon who specialise in acoustic solutions to improve the working environment, and we got to talking about how noise and sound affects your ability to be creative at work. After the event our conversation continued, and continued, until we decided to offer up an interactive workshop for people, to explore and experience how changes in the environment affect our ability and desire to be creative. That workshop is called The Art of Sound, and it takes place in Central London on June 7th. Would you like to come and take part? You can book a place here. It won’t cost you any money, and we’ll provide lunch and all the materials you’ll need. It would be lovely to see you.

Purely by chance, since Paige and I decided to run this session, I have come into contact with Chris Moriarty from Leesman, a company which gathers and shares all kinds of interesting data to help people understand their workplace performance. Chris has kindly shared some data with me which shows the extent to which people are concerned by noise at work, and how it impacts creative thinking and a host of other things besides. I’ve not had the data for long, and I can already see that of the 160,000 people who have currently responded to the Leesman Index survey, just over three quarters of them indicate that noise levels at work are important to them.

On average across the Index only 55.8% of people agree that the workplace enables them to be productive. However, when you look at those that have indicated that noise levels are important and they are happy with them, you see that number rise to 82.2% against those that are dissatisfied with noise down at 32.7%. A 49.5 percentage points difference.
Noise is also impacting enjoyment, this time there’s a 37.8 percentage points difference (78.2% satisfied vs 40.3% dissatisfied). These are big gaps. If we are to improve the workplace and make it more conducive to creative, and enjoyable working, then understanding this stuff is important, for people in workplace design and implementation, and for HR people too.

I can also see that noise is affecting many of the tasks we need to perform at work, and I’ll keep digging through what Chris has provided and share some more details at the event on June 7th. I hope to see you there, and until then, I’ll leave you with The Buzzcocks doing what they do best.

The Art of Wellbeing : Passing Strangers

We were talking, passing strangers
Moments caught across an empty room
Wasted whispers, faded secrets
Quickly passes, time goes, time goes by too soon – Passing Strangers : Ultravox

The Art of Wellbeing

We gathered together, a group of curious people, many of us meeting for the first, and only time. We talked in response to the question ‘What does wellbeing mean to you?’. We shared our thoughts, verbally, drawn, and written. There was an incredible openness among the group – we talked frankly and kindly about illness and death, as well as joy, art and good health too. Here are some snippets of our conversation, and some drawings too, reproduced anonymously, with the kind permission of the group.

What does wellbeing mean to you?

An inquiry – it will lead to more questions.
Being here, in this lovely place, sharing.
Working with anxiety – health – mood.
Is it wellbeing, or being well? The latter feels more active, less corporatised.
Creating (art) helps you feel well.
Craft and creativity – in flow.
Healing.
Sharing is part of wellbeing.
Wellbeing is moving – fulfilment – progress.
Sharing feelings with strangers.
See the clock, want to beat the clock
London – it’s too much. Great to visit – wouldn’t want to live here.
Lines/strands – and where they take us.
Seeking to extrapolate that which cannot be extrapolated.

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One hour later, as quickly as we had gathered, we dispersed. Lots of smiles, lots of handshakes, lots of thanks, and goodbyes.

We were talking, passing strangers
Moments caught across an empty room
Wasted whispers, faded secrets
Quickly passes, time goes, time goes by too soon

I spent yesterday afternoon working in The Reading Room at The Wellcome Collection, a wonderful place in London which describes itself as ‘the free destination for the incurably curious’. The Wellcome Collection runs an Open Platform series of events, and kindly accepted my proposal for this pop up Art of Wellbeing workshop. Anyone can apply to run one of these sessions, I thoroughly recommend you give it a try.

Acknowledgements

The staff at The Wellcome Collection looked after me and the group really well, making it really easy for me to facilitate an excellent conversation and much more. Thank you to them, and to Valerie and Nick in particular. Thank you to Kev Wyke who spotted the opportunity to work at The Wellcome Collection and flagged it to me. Thank you to everyone who came and took part so wholeheartedly.