Creative thinking is a fundamentally different approach to problem solving compared to critical thinking. But, it is creative thinking that generates the idea sparks that lead to meaningful innovation. Possibilities open up when we are freed from the constraints of an evaluative and judgemental mindset. Ideas will only grow into opportunities if we are able to explore them playfully – that is, with the mindset of trying things out and seeing what happens, without judgement.
Of course, there is a time for evaluation, for critical thinking, and that is an important part of the innovation process – but you cannot be creative and critical at the same time. Ideation is a creative process. Evaluation a critical one.
Innovation workshops – creative thinking workshops - require a different skill set to critical thinking. Central to the success of these workshops is a sense of play and risk-taking. Being able and willing to throw out ideas and thoughts, however crazy, is encouraged because it could spark a new line of thinking in someone else.
The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct.
Carl Jung, psychologist, psychiatrist
Ideas come from our play instincts, and the art of running good innovation workshops is to encourage and foster a sense of play.
Energisers, ice-breakers and other creative thinking games are designed to bring this sense of play into the workshop and help attendees unlock their creative instincts and open up to new possibilities. They are essential to the creative thinking process and to successfully generating new possibilities or identifying disruptive threats.
Here are 5 reasons why you should ensure your workshop is peppered with energisers and creative thinking games – and it is not just about managing energy!
Energisers – and the type of energisers used – send a signal to attendees about the tone and parameters of the session. It gives overt permission to participants that they are allowed to step outside of their traditional roles and try something different. Participating in energisers tells people they are allowed to think differently, try out new ideas and take risks. Starting your day with play-like games helps participants revert to a more childlike place - where imagination is given a much freer reign. It tells your attendees that you expect and encourage a different approach to a standard day in the office.
One of the biggest issues to deal with in creative thinking workshops is differing levels of power and status. Ideation requires a non-judgemental space where people feel safe to contribute. People won’t put forward ideas if they think it is going to make them look bad to their boss. The flow will be disrupted and the session rendered largely useless if participants are pre-judging their ideas before sharing them with the broader group. Energisers can be used creatively as a way to level the playing field and make sure everyone feels equal during this session. If your boss is happy doing something weird and out there, then so should you.
Ideas are developed through sharing. A team that works together and is open to each others’ contributions, willing to listen and build on each others’ ideas is far more likely to develop successful ideas and concepts. Energisers are an important part of building a team mentality, and creating team energy that can be harnessed in the creative process
On a practical level, energisers and creative thinking games help people think differently about the problem they are trying to solve. They are tools that can be used to encourage participants to see alternative options, and have ideas from a different perspective. Simply asking people to “brainstorm” will get surface thoughts, but these thoughts will (unless your group is full of natural creative thinkers) be very grounded in existing thinking – and probably quite similar to what your competitors would come up with given the same information. Using energising games to create new perspectives will help your participants think creatively – and come up with ideas they wouldn’t have had in the shower. For some ideas on creative thinking games, check out this blog.
Focus and Energy
Of course, the standard use for energisers is to provide energy and impetus to a group meeting. This is not to be sniffed at, as it is a key part of managing group dynamics and keeping the session on track. Better than lollies, energisers really do boost energy levels and refocus the mind on the task at hand. Energiser games, as silly as they might sometimes seem, keep people stimulated, engaged and in the room. Save your most energising energiser for the post lunch slump!