In this week’s Business Surgery Nick Hague comments on the importance of thinking time in order to be creative in today’s hectic modern world
Is it me or do we ever get any time to ourselves these days? Whether it is the constant ringing of calls, texts and emails from our phones and laptops telling us we have new mail/messages through to the relentless streaming of information via the media/social media – I feel like I never get time to think! In this modern world we seem to spend all our working hours in meetings and then do the real work when we get home in the evening.
My typical working day starts at 5.50am when I wake to take my dog for a walk and this is my most (only) valuable thinking time when I can reflect on the day ahead and what happened the previous day. I therefore read with interest about a soon to be released book called ‘Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking’. Although not the catchiest of titles a lot of what the author, Susan Cain, talks about does resonate with me. For example…
“Virtually all American employees spend time working in teams and about 70% inhabit open-plan offices where no one has ‘a room of one’s own’. We are in each other’s faces all the time, listening to each other’s (sometimes inane) conversations, and this constant interaction is exhausting and unproductive”
Isn’t this the main reason why we created open plan offices in the first place to be more productive and creative? It seems like it isn’t working! Think about it; when was the last time you went into a creative workshop and actually came up with a creative idea. We go through life going to monthly meetings and sitting with the same people in the same room and very often in the same chair! Is it any wonder we don’t think differently! It only takes one person to judge a creative idea and ruin a session so therefore how are we as creative groups meant to come up with new ideas and innovations?
Susan Cain makes an interesting point about introverts and their power of contribution to innovation:
“At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labelled “quiet,” it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society–from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer”
We all know that in any successful company there needs to be a good mix of personalities and skill sets that complement one another. However, maybe it is because of their gregarious and assertive nature that extroverts are not only the most noticeable in the workplace but maybe more successful at the interview process. However, if I think to my own experience at B2B International, some of the most creative people are those that are definitely more introverted rather than extroverted. Maybe introverts have had a hard time due to society deeming them shy and unsociable but in the publishers own words of ‘Quiet’…
“This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves”
So next time you want to think creatively, don’t get together as a team. Sit down in a quiet room, shut the door and turn off all electronic devices or even better still, go for a walk – you may just be surprised what creative thoughts you come up with!