Three months ago I had my beautiful baby girl, Melrose, and I was fortunate enough to "go completely dark" while on maternity leave. I spent the last twelve weeks getting to know my daughter, learning how to be a mom, soaking up the newness of being a family of three and – best of all – staying far, far away from work!
While stepping into the scary realm of motherhood has proven to shake my personal confidence to the core (how am I allowed to take care of such a little, fragile human being??), it has also provided me the opportunity to completely rinse off my somewhat stagnant, dusty “work-brain”— a sneaky soot that can settle onto any mind that sets into a repetitious, comfortable rhythm.
Back into action after my hiatus, I’ve found that I have a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm for the world of branding and marketing boosted by the ability to see things anew. As I reopen projects, review work and reconnect with colleagues, I’m amazed at the new angles, insights and ideas that quickly rise to the top. Why didn’t I see that before? What if we did X instead of Y? Let’s try this instead of that!
Having the opportunity and time to step away created a refreshed mental state and perspective when I stepped back in.
I witness this same inspired thinking when my clients take the time to step outside their office walls for a mental and contextual “shakeup” that inspires new thinking and provokes creativity in individuals, teams and organizations. When you set aside time to step away, turn things upside down and immerse yourself in a completely different experience it can have big positive impact on how you think and problem solve.
That’s why I whole-heartedly believe in the power of creative workshops. Designed and moderated correctly, a workshop can have the power to produce results that are simultaneously on target and unexpected.
You can generate the most powerful creative, new thinking when you:
1. LEAVE THE OFFICE BEHIND: Let’s be honest. You can’t come up with new ideas or fresh thinking when you’re sitting in the same boring conference room that you hold the dry ‘status meetings’ that everyone dreads. Make a point to go outside your office building into a more inspired environment whether it’s a local rental facility or even a customer-inspired location.
2. RECRUIT AN EXTERNAL GUIDE: Every office has an inspiring lead or visionary that has awesome skills in facilitating a meeting. But if you want to truly think differently and challenge yourself to develop new solutions, hire an outside consultant to guide you through the problem-solving process. A new person at the helm can shake things up (in a good way) and offer a new perspective you may not have considered before.
3. OBTAIN DIVERSE VIEWPOINTS: While marketers may not be experts in operations, operations may not be experts in sales, and HR may not be experts in manufacturing, bringing together diverse points of view (even if not tightly linked) to solve a problem can help everyone see and understand things differently.
4. DON’T BE AFRAID TO BE WRONG: In any organizational structure, it’s easy to fall prey to the “I’m always right” trap. We all want to be perceived as the highly skilled experts we were hired to be. But this hold onto perfection can create detrimental blinders to new and sometimes better ways of approaching challenges. Let go of your ego and allow yourself to try something new and fail.
5. LET YOURSELF BE VULNERABLE: Change can be scary for anyone as it can challenge our personal confidence and make us feel susceptible to disappointment and failure. But venturing into new territories and finding the courage to take risks (even small ones) can encourage you to try on solutions that may be intimidating but are worth the somewhat daunting effort.
So, more work doesn't always beget better work. Take yourself out of the daily grind, put yourself into a new and very different environment and switch up your typical problem-solving approaches. You'll be amazed at the refreshing results.