Does a Coffee House or a Bar Help You To Generate Good Ideas
I’ve read about a lot of crazy things companies and organizations have done to generate good ideas. You see firms that require their folks to attend team building trips or demand that their staff sit in long ‘brainstorming’ sessions. During the early years of Motown, Berry Gordy had songwriters and artists sit down at desks and churn out as many songs as possible. A literal ‘factory’ for songs, the office was filled for 22 hours a day with people at desks, instruments and in the studios trying to write that next Motown hit. At the end of the week, Gordy would weed out all the songs he didn’t like and push through with the production and promotion of the choice tunes.
You need a network, not a factory
But in today’s fast-paced and collaborative world, ‘idea factories’ aren’t as viable or even acceptable. What may happen is that you get a lot of ideas, but without the benefit of collaboration or forward-thinking. It’s important that the process of generating ideas is as good as the idea itself.
So how do you build a network to help your team generate good ideas? Let’s take a look:
1. Drink Beer’s.
Aside from the actual drink, the atmosphere of a coffee house or a bar has been proven to stimulate thinking, thanks to the low-key sound and the ambiance. People are expected to gather at a table and strike up a meaningful discussion over a cup of delicious stimulant. Instead of paying for a company outing, a quick coffee run or a beer for the team might just do the trick. I don’t say you should drink beer all the day to generate ideas but going out with your team and have a few drinks can be very stimulating in an ideation process.
2. Stop waiting for the Eureka.
A lot of things said about good ideas is a myth. Einstein or Charles Darwin’s Eureka wasn’t such a momentous event but rather a product of deep thought processes. This means that you don’t have to wait for that moment, and that there are other ways to get that good idea. I invite you to read the “11 useful Tricks to Improve Creative Thinking” article to find other ways to generate ideas.
3. Work with the ‘slow hunch’.
Good ideas actually develop after quite some time; depending on how much time and collaboration have been devoted to its development. It doesn’t happen over one meeting as well. Always go back to what was talked about in previous meetings and keep everyone on track.
4. Rethink old and traditional concepts.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with looking at the classics. But if you want to get good ideas from them, you have to think of them differently. Introduce traditional and accepted ideas and ask your team to turn them around, shift them around and then put them back together. In the end, you could say that a great idea is a bunch of old ones put together and turned around.
5. Share everyone’s experiences.
One thing that I’ve learned in my years as a consultant and fan of the startup world is that everything is mostly part of a network, ideas included. When people get together to talk about what they’ve learned and what they know, more elements are added to the idea generation engine.
6. Talk about mistakes and challenges.
Today it’s all about the positive, the strengths, the bringing out what’s best in anything and everything. Although it’s a great approach, it leaves your team open to a lot of setbacks in the future. What could have been avoided if you guys simply talked about it is now right in your faces and you have no idea what to do. The key to this step is to not focus on the fact that it’s a mistake, but something that can be overcome with good collaboration. Research has shown that talking about mistakes and challenges is more often than not the way a good idea is formed.
So to recap and make things a bit more concise, you can help your team generate good ideas by going out for a beer. Make sure you give your team time to talk, bond and discuss both the positive and negative. It may take some time, but you aren’t waiting for that Eureka moment anyway.
This article was mainly inspired by Steven Johnson TED Video Where Good Ideas Come From
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