Making space for ideas

Like everything, creativity and ideas take a bit of effort, but they also need some space. A couple of months ago I moderated an event about creativity. Where do we find it? How can we tap it? (To listen to a podcast of the event go here, or to download it to listen to it later, right click and “Save target as…”, Macs Option/click). In the current environment, new ideas and creativity have greater currency than ever, but for most they remain one of those elusive somethings that we need to do better.


At the event, one of the panellists posed a question to the audience. What is your biggest barrier to creativity? For me the answer was an easy one.



The 24/7 pace of our lives makes it hard to get a little bit of space to think unencumbered. And without space to think, new ideas and creativity are virtually impossible.


This was reinforced in a conversation yesterday when a colleague mentioned that as a consultant, his clients were paying him to think, but demands on his time made it such a premium that his group had decided to make one day a week meeting and email free, so they could just think.

But it isn’t always just about putting some time on the calendar, literally making some physical space is important as well. For some people they need to get outdoors, others like to be surrounded with blank walls – whatever does it for you, don’t underestimate the role of your environment.


Those are just two things that can help you on the path to creativity and new ideas – here are a few more to help you find your inner thinker.


Make time. Sounds obvious, but there is always something else that has to be done. Carve out some time each week to just toss ideas around. Do it as a company, with some friends, in your team. Doesn’t matter, just make some time.


Find a space. Environment matters, so make sure that you have a place where you can go or gather to think. It might just be a corner of your office, put up a “thinking in progress” sign and get others to join you. It might be a favourite cafe where that corner table is the place for the people in your team to discuss the big questions over a perfect latté.


Have a conversation. Talking things over is not just for problems, it is a great way to explore ideas and the adage “two heads are better than one” has survived the ages for a reason!


Write it down. Draw a diagram. Sketch a picture. Make a note. Without some sort of record of what you where thinking, it can easily get buried under the weight of everything else going on. Put the results up on a wall somewhere to spark other ideas for you and others.


Explore. Even the most fertile imaginations need food. Get out of the daily routine and see things from a new perspective. Hold that weekly meeting at the art gallery, do it as a walking meeting around the local streets, take it to a playground! Put a variety of things around to inspire. Stock the library with different and interesting books, invite people to bring in things to “show and tell”, take the team to a movie or an exhibition (on a weekday).


Like anything else, ideas and creativity can take a bit of effort, but the results are worth it. So start today – take 30 minutes and find some space!


See you next week!



Alignment is Michel’s passion. Through her work with Brandology here in Australia, and Brand Alignment Group in the United States, she helps organisations align who they are, with what they do and say to build more authentic and sustainable brands.

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