Caffeine versus creativity

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

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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.

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