Build Your Creative Pipeline, Day 1: Establish a Space Devoted to Creative Thinking

Setting aside a communal area for creative thought—whether physical, digital, or mental—can help your organization find comfort with sharing new ideas.

This is Day 1 of our creative pipeline series. Keep an eye out for future entries in the series this week.

A spark of inspiration can come out of nowhere. But the secret to uncovering ideas that your association can effectively implement lies in finding a way to capture that lightning in a bottle—repeatedly.

With that in mind, our newest weeklong challenge aims to help you build a creative pipeline that fosters new ideas and enables you to regularly act upon them.

Every good idea has to start somewhere. That’s where today’s tip comes in: Establish a space devoted to creative thinking.

How to Establish a Creative Thinking Space

Are you the kind of person whose best ideas emerge from a couple of hours spent working at a coffee shop or on the road—anywhere but your normal workspace? If so, you have the right idea for a creative thinking space already. The challenge is, to build a creative pipeline, that approach needs to apply to your entire team—and your team may not all be in the same place.

Fortunately, creative space is about a state of mind as much as a physical space. So having an area set aside—whether a room, an unused corner of the office, a Slack channel, or even a spare 10 minutes during a regular meeting—can go a long way to help foster a spirit of creative thinking.

No matter what that setup looks like, make sure the space is interesting. (That includes from a design standpoint: Research from the furniture company Steelcase finds that uninspiring spaces were one of the biggest barriers to creativity.)

Why a Creative Thinking Space Matters

The case for building a space for creative thinking is tied to separating creative thought from standard processes. In a post on Medium, architect and creative space expert Donald M. Rattner made the case for physical separation in the context of construal level theory, or the idea of tying psychological distance to abstract thinking.

“Applying this principle to the goal of improving creative thinking, the more expansive our sense of surrounding space, the more prone we are to generating original and useful concepts for new products, services, and methods,” Rattner wrote.

And given the cultural shifts during the pandemic—where many workplaces switched to more collaborative office setups—an established creative space can help set a tone for creativity when hybrid workers do end up in the same room together.

Oh, and about the coffee shop environment mentioned earlier: You might want to borrow inspiration from the higher decibel levels of the bean grinders found at coffee shops. Researchers at the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in China have found that a decent amount of background noise actually does wonders for creativity. So don’t be afraid to turn on some music in your creative space.

(Dimitris66/DigitalVision Vectors)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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