It is difficult to feel or be creative in certain environments – especially in front of a computer screen or in a sterile boardroom. Last week I hosted a creative brainstorming session for a team, and our first step to success in the process was to choose the right environment. To escape the office and constant interruptions, we chose the beautiful, tranquil gardens of the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, where we could enjoy our tea, protected from the noise and pollution of the city and the only sounds were of the trickling fountain and twittering birds.
By getting the delegates to drive there, they physically separated themselves from the daily grind at the office. Most importantly, the team felt like it was a treat, not a chore. We cleared our heads of day-to-day trivia and moved from using our left brains to our right brains. The results were exceptional, and it was not the marketing team who generated the most incredible ideas. Everyone, given the right environment and encouragement, can be creative. Don’t exclude the finance or logistics staff from the opportunity of showing their bright sides.
Every individual was given a small blackboard to write on (no laptops or phones allowed!) with chalk. We decided to focus on the ‘what’ to do, rather than the how, why, where and when. That will all come later. A stream of innovative ideas spilled forth, recorded in chalk, then rubbed out when better ideas transpired. By the end of the session we had captured enough ideas to fuel us forward for the year ahead, and beyond. A follow-up meeting will produce timelines, action plans and see us taking these ideas into execution.
How about having your own imagination station with your team? Remember:
- Escape! Off-site is best, preferably in nature where you can be inspired.
- Allow everyone to contribute.
- No idea is a bad idea…one comment or thought can ignite someone else to come up with a winner.
- Do not write your ideas down in a linear fashion, instead jot down key words anywhere on your board.
- Think big.
- Get one person to be the scribe so that all ideas are recorded.
It takes just one bright spark to ignite and fuel a fire, so provide the environment and watch it happen.