My Linked In "Monday Play" column:
In my byline for any business gig - whether consulting, keynoting,facilitating, research - I usually describe myself as "Musician, Writer"... and then it varies.
But it's also because keeping these artistic practices in my life gives me a vital insight into how organisations in general can foster creativity and innovation.
I'm a player-with-microphones-and-laptops - and from this, much else in my life has flowed.
For example, in a conversation earlier this week, I was exploring my own direct experiences of what a creative space feels like, in order to inform how organisations might build their own.
A “rehearsal space”, or “writing room”, in my music experience, mixes together a number of modes of experience. You should expect a certain intensity to be brewed up there - people have signed up to a creative and exploratory process, with all the consequences that implies.
But it’s so important for that intensity to be well-facilitated - good soundsystem; comfortable conditions and furnishings; on-hand expertise and assistance if extra resources are needing (or things fail); the ability to record the moment accurately if something great arises.
And it’s also vital that there is, beyond the room, a “chill-out” space - somewhere you can take respite from the intensity, wander around, look at the skies/be under the skies, ingest whatever stimulant or restorative is required.
As well as the evidence of a great song or performance, I think the deep science of play theory can really help make the case for creative spaces in organisations.
It can give an evolutionary explanation of how play-zones helps complex organisms (like we social mammals) test their reactions to a challenging world, in a non-fatal, richly educative way.
This shouldn't be an “away-day” phenomenon - leaving the flawed workplace for a refreshing idyll in some location or residence, and then returning to it again with a brimming consciouness that rapidly depletes.
A creative zone should be a "ground of play". A place to test out our strategies at the heart of the savannah, or neighbourhood...or vibrant organisation.
Now, not every organisation is like the net-era start-up, unburdened by legacy or history. The Palo Alto wizards can make the entire workplace a "magic circle" of passionate and productive creativity.
But it may be that a decent "rehearsal space" can be wrested from the strict bottom-line (or top-line) imperatives of any organisation - if they think for a moment of what startling and world-changing creations can come from that space.
I just noticed Pharrell Williams' astonishment at the power of his "Happy" song in 2014. This wasn't just the theme of a blockbusting movie, but actually an inspiration to civic activists throughout the world (the Iranian ones were even arrested for their cavorting about). "Happy" will now be the theme tune for a UN global initiative on youth education.
Pharrell notes that he had 9 rejects for the song in that movie's scene before they got one they were, well, happy with (see him at work in the picture above). Now, there's the benefits of rehearsal!
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