Humor at Work: Creativity in the Workplace Requires Thinking Time!

Showering Your Workplace with Great Ideas!

There’s a scene in the TV show Mad Men where the boss’s young daughter asks an employee why he isn’t working, to which the ad man replies, “I am working. I’m thinking.”

Which raises an interesting point. A growing body of research suggests that as our workplaces get busier and noisier and people strive to do more with less and run ever-so-faster on the gerbil wheel and multitask like monkeys at an amusement park, we’ve forgotten the importance of setting aside time to be quiet, to reflect and to think. And it’s costing us dearly because our ability to be creative, innovate, and gain clarity on important workplace issues is intricately tied to our capacity to find the space and time to really think.

In my surveys of where people are most creative, the number one answer is always the shower. Aaron Sorkin, the screenwriter of the movie The Social Network, admits to sometimes showering six or more times a day when he gets blocked creatively. The primary reason showers spark creative ideas is that they are one of the few places where people allow their minds to drift about like a tumbleweed in a cheesy western. Brain scans confirm that the process of free association, of allowing your thoughts to aimlessly bounce around your brain, is the main source of creative ideas. Now, more showers at work may not fly with the boss, but if your workplace truly values innovation, then creating opportunities for your own mad men and mad women to slow down and think, will pay off handsomely in the long run. (Almost as handsomely as Don Draper.)

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Mike’s Fun at Work Tip

Create some meeting penalties or infractions (checking your Blackberry; being a sea gull and dumping on someone’s idea; arriving late to the meeting) and then impose a fine that goes to your organization’s charity of choice. You can also expand this idea to everyday fun office penalties, even if you just do it for one week to raise some moola for a charity or social committee: a two dollar fine for wearing an ugly tie; a dollar every time you utter an overused buzzword or acronym; or five dollars for telling a groan-inducing joke.

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Quote of the Week

“Humorists are serious. They are the only people who are.”

Mark Van Doren

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It’s a Wacky World

Today, February 23, is official “Curling is Cool Day.” I’m Canadian, so I am pretty much legally obliged to agree with this. It’s also “Inconvenience Yourself Day”, a day my phone company’s billing department apparently celebrates on a regular basis.

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Copyright Michael Kerr, 2011 www.humoratwork.com

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