Big Ideas: To foster creativity, everyone should draw, everyone should contribute and how people move within a physical space plays a crucial role in our creative work.
As companies such as mine try to help clients embrace new ways of working, ways that will unlock their creativity, encourage risk-taking, and overcome their analytical biases, I realized that pretty much everything we advocate are practices and sentiments that we’re first exposed to in kindergarten. (At least, kindergarten as I remember it from my childhood. Word is that kindergarten has gotten distressingly rigid, but that’s another matter entirely.)
When we work with clients, one of our more radical propositions is that everyone should draw. Everyone should make pictures. Even if it’s just stick figures. We’ll justify it as “making ideas tangible and concrete.” But much of the value is simply in engaging with a part of the brain that is usually dormant in a business context. It also provides the freedom to create and explore, with no judgment. To make marks on a paper or whiteboard. We make sure there are plenty of drawing supplies at hand. And really, it’s just like when you broke out the crayons or fingerpaints in kindergarten.
In these types of collaborative work sessions, one thing we make clear is that everyone should contribute, and no one person’s contributions are more valuable, or have more weight than others. This applies both across departments, but also up and down the organizational ladder. Again, like kindergarten, where there is no hierarchy, children are encouraged to share and take turns, and everyone is on equal footing.
Physical space, and how people move within it, plays a crucial role in our creative work. Teams gather around tables. There are whiteboards for drawing and tackable surfaces to display your work. People don’t sit in chairs for long, whether they get up to put their work on a wall, or to look around and see what others have done. This reminds me of the kinetic chaos of kindergarten. Whereas first grade, where you sit in little rows of little desks, is essentially the initial step on your way to a cubicle farm, and the dehumanization that goes with that.