Creativity and innovation - The Splosh Factor
- Develop your business
- Review some of those things that once worked so well
- Help people who are finding old habits hard to break
- Recharge your creative and imaginative batteries
The Splosh Factor allows people to rediscover or refresh their creativity. It usually takes place in a playroom environment where participants can make as much mess as they like.
They may even be given overalls to wear, partly to protect their clothing but also to create a feeling of being 'different'. We use a wide variety of materials such as finger paints, cardboard, pegs, blue-tack, string, balloons, balls, sticks, etc.
The Splosh Factor
The Splosh Factor uses games and processes that encourage creativity, self-expression and rule-breaking to overturn the normal rules of behaviour.
This creates an atmosphere of slight anarchy and a wide level of permission that is very fertile.
Within this environment people are enabled to:
- Express themselves in a fashion that is normally denied to them
- Bond as a group in a significant way
- Discuss where some of the logjams are within the company or team
- Come up with effective ways of sorting things out
- Blow off steam about things that are blocking their lives and work
This workshop format is adaptable to various settings. It can be used at a conference with multiple rooms and trainers to give everyone in the company a fun workout and a chance to generate new ideas. It can be done with a smaller specific team working to a specific objective. It can be the approach to a team day for an entire small company.
By overthrowing the conventional way of doing things for just a day, The Splosh Factor can bypass months of frustration and disappointment.
Creativity and Innovation
"There's no such thing as creativity; you just assemble what's already there."
Well, when your neck is on the line, a deadline is looming and it seems as though all eyes are on you to come up with the next creative strategy, even assembling what's already there can seem impossible.
Or there may be times when you've done the same presentation over and over, you're writing the same words, coming up with solutions that don't have that certain spark and in general, your ideas seem stale and tired. You feel uncreative and uninspired. Dull.
A lot of times our creativity is hampered by the 'rules' we think we are supposed to operate by: be logical, don't be messy, be structured, get it right. The very concept of rules is pretty much antithetical to the creative process and yet we let them constrict us and limit what we allow ourselves to do.
Creativity comes from laying aside the rules - even for just a little while - so that we are able to reach beyond logic and structure and tap into our imaginations more easily. This is the place where we store our sense of the ridiculous, our sense of being able to do the impossible and ultimately, our ability to see things differently and find new and usable solutions.
Assemble What's Already There
Then we can assemble what's already there.
So let's begin at the beginning (not always the best place to start when trying to be creative, but we do need a little bit of logic here!). If you're working with a group of people and want to open up the whole idea of creativity with them, here are some suggestion.
An interesting kick-off is to run an open discussion about what creativity is.
If we pose as a given that we are all creative, we were born that way and are all able to pinpoint areas of our lives where we are or have been creative, then what we often find is that people don't usually see themselves as creative. 'Oh I'm not creative, I can't draw, I don't sing, write, play music, invent things,' etc.
So it may well be that we are habitually less creative than we might be because we've talked ourselves into some very strong beliefs about what being creative actually means. We think of ourselves as not creative types, therefore, we habitually don't challenge ourselves to try.
Look at the way that society and the workplace wants us to follow the rules and therefore be less creative. Then look at the way children are seen as being naturally creative and are given endless encouragement to paint, draw and express themselves.
To quote Picasso
"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist after growing up".
Get your group to 'define' this elusive thing called creativity.
Next, let's take a look at the next question: why do we think creativity is important?
Well to start with its one of the ways we cope with change. If we are creative, if we are skilled at innovation we can come up with new ways of approaching situations that have changed.
Another quote "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over in the same way and expecting different results."
We are programmed to be creative, so much so that we see chronically uncreative people as ill!
Beating the Competition
On a practical level being creative allows us to come up with new ideas that help us to beat the competition.
On a daily level, it allows us to solve everyday problems. "Why don't we try this?" - "How about using this approach?" - "What if we look at it this way?"
In the modern world, new information comes along on a daily (hourly, even) basis. Today's problems cannot be solved with yesterday's solutions. What worked yesterday won't work now; therefore creative, innovative people are highly valued.
If you want something new you have to do something different. The thing is, it doesn't have to be massively different, but it does require a shift in thinking and beliefs.
What's more, being creative is fun.
Ok so if all this is true why are we not all creative all the time?
Well, quite frankly we'd go mad! Just think of a world populated with people who were all wildly creative all the time. It would be like a bunch of uncontrollable adult-sized children. We need rules.
So These are the Rules
- Follow the rules
- Don't get it wrong/fail
- Don't be foolish
- Play is frivolous
- Be logical
- Be practical
- Get proof
- It must be relevant
- Don't be vague
This is the way we are all normally required to operate in the workplace. We need rules like this in order to create efficient business environments, but a dramatic side effect is that they absolutely block the creative flow.
Indeed, some of these rules so completely stifle our innovative streaks that when we are called upon to use them, they've shrivelled up.
These rules are good for us some of the time, perhaps even most of the time, but if you want to help yourself or others be more creative you could do worse than taking a look at what happens when we don't follow them.
So if you turn the list of rules upside down you'll get something like this.
The Anti Rules!
- Break the rules
- Get it wrong
- Be foolish
- Be illogical
- Be impractical
- Use gut feeling
- It must be irrelevant
- Be vague
The most important of these we think is to get back to play. All the time things are serious, all the time there has to be an output that is judged as good or bad, people may feel that they should be creative, but only a little bit, just in case they get it wrong.
Ok, Ok, you're saying. I get all that. Now how do I and my team start being more creative and figure out how to break some of those rules?
The following stuff is taken from our Creativity Workout sessions - feel free to give them a go!
Innovation and Creativity Through Rule Breaking
When Impact Factory runs creativity sessions for various groups we find that most people need time to ease their way into rule-breaking.
At first, everyone tends to behave and not break any rules outright.
Then one or two people may not do things exactly how we ask them to.
The beginnings of deliberate rule-breaking are likely to arise about an hour into the session.
Pushing people to get there quicker can be counterproductive. You may get to a very resistant place where people are saying "what's the point of all this".
Here is some feedback from people who have been through a creativity session
- I found it difficult to not call things by their proper name
- I found that I censored a lot of my first ideas and by doing so I don't think my second or third ideas were as good as the gut reaction first idea
- Laughter helps thing to flow
- I was always thinking about how much time had been taken and what was coming next
- Time seems very important. I kept thinking we should use it productively
- I've got mixed feelings about the structure within our group
- The 30 seconds of passion exercise was really good and useful
- Brilliant to discover some personal things about the team and also some hidden strengths and interests
- Once I'd chosen my special toy I found it really hard to smash it up, but at the point of destruction it felt fantastic
- I found my creativity was stimulated by new ideas generated in the room
- When I found myself in my comfort zone, I tried to get uncomfortable again
As you focus on more serious issues you will find that people drift back into following the rules and you will need to introduce little interventions to open up people's thinking.
Make it Worse
The one technique that everyone likes and seems able to engage with is the "make it worse" trick.
With this, all you do is take a time out from any problem or issue the group is dealing with and spend five minutes looking at what you could do to make things worse, to make the project crash and burn. Why people like this so much is that they can be as outrageous as they like and it won't matter!
Equally important, however, is that when you come up with ideas that could make something worse, you often come up with possibilities that might actually happen if you don't keep an eagle eye on things. By seeing what could indeed make a project crash and burn you can put safeguards in place to stop that from happening.
Having got to the place where people are playing with their ability to "get creative" you can move to working on something serious and relevant, but with the same spirit of fun and play.
Having given you the Anti-Rules, here are some more we think are really useful when working creatively with a group of people, especially around work-related projects:
Everyone's ideas should be considered and debated, no matter how foolish or unfeasible they may seem.
Everyone in the group should contribute something, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.
Don't rule things out as you go along - wait till everything's on the table and then do the weeding.
Write it all down - you never know when it might come in handy.
And do, please, have fun!
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