Caffeine versus creativity

I threw out this tweet the other day and it seemed to strike a chord with people:

Innovation too often equated with rush… accelerators, storming, multicoloured postits, stimulus, sugar & caffeine. Archimedes took a bath.

Keith Sawyer and others have suggested that a lot of creative ideas pop up in moments when we relax and let our attention wander, even though the insights often follow periods of focussed attention on an issue.

In meetings and other processes people often skip on breaks and periods of reflection and act as if the value of the event has to be “captured” at a fixed point. But creativity doesn’t actually run according to meeting organisers’ schedules. Also, there’s a general assumption that creative spaces should be bright, colourful and stimulating. Again, too much stimulus is really quite addictive and destructive of creativity. We get fixated with ideas and light bulbs, and maybe we need to pay more attention to the quieter spaces in which really good stuff can emerge. That may require sitting with uncertainty and cultivating a certain amount of patience.

One thought on “Caffeine versus creativity

  1. Adrian Segar

    Walks alone in beauty (the dirt roads and woods around my Vermont home) are good. It’s amazing the ideas that bubble up. Before I set out I pocket a card and a pen because I’ve found my interesting thoughts don’t stay conscious long.

    I’ve also written about the value of meeting breaks here:

    http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/event-design/2012/01/the-science-of-white-space-at-events/

    and here

    http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/event-design/2012/05/give-me-a-break/

    Reply

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