Great ideas don’t happen in the boardroom

Quit brainstorming and get some creative solitude

Ever been in a meeting room, with a large empty whiteboard and lots of blank faces trying to think up the next big idea? Me too.

“There is an expectation of brilliant ideas simply because it’s called a brainstorm. That’s like trying to make a diary appointment for a moment of creative genius. And this gets called innovation?!” Matt Hart,

There’s a myth that brainstorming — popularised in the 1950s as a method for generating ideas — is the best way to creative problem solving. However too often those in the room are afraid to suggest bold ideas for fear of being shot down. Often the loudest, most senior people have their voice heard and get their ideas forced through. Also the environment itself isn’t geared up to generate great ideas, but rather sheer quantity, implying that all ideas are equal. They’re not.

If you want great ideas you need to create the conditions for magic to happen…

“Innovation doesn’t happen around a flipchart” Mark Sears
“I come up with more ideas on that hammock than I ever would anywhere else.” Richard Branson

Find your alone zone

Those that have done it the hard way, realise the importance of finding appropriate space and time for ideas to flow:

  • Richard Branson does most of his business planning from his Necker Island hideaway
  • Matt Hart talks about the importance of finding creative solitude
  • 37 Signals preach the value of alone time
  • Zen Habits founder Leo Babauta says the No. 1 habit of highly creative people is solitude
  • Ben Keene believes we should invest in experiences that provide focus
  • Wildcamp co-founder Mark Sears believes we need to disconnect in order to re-connect
“Creativity flourishes in solitude. With quiet, you can hear your thoughts, you can reach deep within yourself, you can focus.” Leo Babauta

Shortcuts to getting that creative spark

  • Get back to nature, a park will do if you’re in the City
  • Unplug from tech
  • Switch off all phones
  • Listen to music
  • Read a book
  • Go for a walk or run
  • Go on a slow drive

If you’re thinking that there’s no way you’ll have time for any of these how about trying the following:

  • Watching less TV
  • Getting up a little earlier in the morning
  • Reduce time spent on email
  • Limiting your social media use
  • Doing less stuff
“Create new IP (ideas with purpose)” Matt Hart

It’s time we got back to the things that matter so we can have the space and time to create ideas and make connections that can make a difference to ourselves and the outside world.

Doing our little bit

At The Happy Startup School we’re passionate about creating transformational experiences in inspiring locations whether a week long adventure in the Alps (below), a cabin in the Downs, a workshop on the beach or a weekend retreat.

Our home for the week during

Later this summer in the UK we’re bringing together an incredible line-up of thinkers, do-ers and changemakers over 3 days in 300 acres of idyllic countryside to inspire and help us lead a better life and build a better business.

We have 3 simple goals for those that are joining us:

  • Unplug
  • Re-focus
  • Have fun

There’ll be thought provoking talks, woodland workshops, yoga, mindfulness, great food and, most importantly, space for meaningful conversations with likeminded people.

We believe the way we’re living now requires us all to detox from digital for at least a few days a year. If you agree, then why not join us. My bet is you’ll come back re-connected, full of ideas and with a pocketful of new connections and a nourished soul.

From Happy Startup Summercamp in London 2013

From Happy Startup Summercamp in London 2013