Where do you get your greatest moments of inspiration? When do you experience an Aha-Moment? How does a great idea pop into your head?
At least once a week, we sit together at the office and exchange ideas on how to tackle a series of problems – together we try to come up with solutions, ideas, new approaches. Creative ways to sell a product on already saturated and well competed market, nice turns in communication to make our brand stand out or an unexpected ad to be noticed. It is not easy to come up with a new idea every week and sometimes I wonder if we were better off not having these brain storming sessions but instead taking the time off, letting our minds wander and experience new things. I for one don’t have my greatest break-throughs sitting around the table, chatting with my colleagues and staring at blank walls.
Just recently I came across a small survey indicating that most people experience those Eureka moments when under the shower, taking a stroll or even in bed. According to Gijs these are the top places for ideas:
1. Showering 11.2%;
2. Sleeping 9.2%
3. Driving 8.6%
4. Walking 8.0%
5. Working out & running 7.2%
6. Before sleeping 6.6%
7. Waking up 6.6%
It’s only seldom that we have a breakthrough when we are expected to, such as in a meeting, during work hours sitting at our desk or even during brainstorming session. One interviewed said more or less the same I would when asked how I get inspired: “Lying in my bed just before sleeping; I often get up then to write down the idea in order not to forget it; when showering; when doing a walk in nature.”.
What is up with this? Could it be our environment that is impeding us to think freely and let our thoughts roll? Gijs describes this process of having a good idea as Incubation, “a process of unconscious recombination of thought elements that were stimulated through conscious work at one point in time, resulting in novel ideas at some later point in time”. The author says that ‘if we stop thinking, our best ideas pop into our minds”.
How could we improve our work environments to reproduce this moments when we stop thinking? I am not proposing putting up showers in your company’s restrooms or creating an artificial lake around the campus so employees can take strolls after lunch, but I do think that some neutral space in the office could help us be more creative in our 9 to 5 jobs.
We could also calculate an extra incubation time in our proyect work schedule. A time to think things over, a time to get inspired and to come up with maybe an even better solution to the problem.