I recently watched this video by Tim Brown of IDEO about Play and Creativity and he starts by asking the audience to “Draw their neighbour”. Each person has 30 seconds to draw the person next to them in the auditorium.
The interesting thing was how people felt afterwards. Lots said “Sorry” or laughed, or were embarrassed to show their neighbours their ideas.
This happens so often in Creativity Seminars or workshops…you always have those people who are embarrassed to have a fun idea, something “off the wall”, something a little bizarre. That’s because as we grow up we have more and more inhibitions and are less willing to take risks.
As Tim Brown pointed out, if you do a similar exercise with children, they have no embarrassment at all, in fact they are proud to show their pictures to the children sitting next to them.
It’s important in Creative settings to make people feel secure, to make sure that they know it’s OK to share their thoughts no matter how stupid, because sometimes those stupid ideas have great ideas behind them.
Another exercise Tim Brown asks the audience to do is “30 circles” Each person in the audience is given a sheet of paper with 30 circles on it. The aim of the exercise is quantity and speed, not quality. How many circles could each person develop into an object. Anything!
Again, it’s difficult for people to work quickly, because they are wary about showing their work if it’s not perfect. With this exercise, perfection is not important, quick thinking is important.
The aim of the presentation was to communicate that Play is a large part of being Creative. So let people have fun! Let them play. Have lots of inspiring fun things around to spur their creativity. But make them feel secure about having fun! We have such a work ethic now in the Western World, that when we’re not “working” we feel somehow strange…are we allowed to have fun?
YES… of course!
I’ve been using this technique over the last week as a warm-up exercise for brainstorming and it worked really well. The way in which I used it was to give a group of students 1 minute to think about the subject of the seminar by drawing (more doodling) in each of the circles as quickly as possible.
I then drew 30 circles up on the board and got some or all of them, depending on the size of the group I was working with to fill in the circles.
We then used the drawings inside each circle to brainstorm the subject.
It worked well!