While I was in Barcelona a few weeks ago, I came across a provocative idea: an aerial meeting room. Suspended from a crane—offering a sea gull’s-eye view of treetops, the busy harbor and the azure Mediterranean—was a platform holding a large conference table surrounded by a dozen chairs. To my disappointment, there was no meeting in progress on that clear blue day, but it got me wondering: Who came up with this unique idea? Who uses it to turn routine meetings into mental fireworks displays? What big ideas have been launched from up there?
Two things came to mind as I considered the potential stimuli this offered: One, we know the color blue nurtures creativity, and two, as abstract expressionist painter Hans Hofmann reminds us, “Being inexhaustible, life and nature are a constant stimulus for a creative mind.” How often have you heard someone say, "I was struggling to think of a solution and then it just came to me, out of the blue"? Someone clever had put these two inspiration facts together to create a blue-drenched place to wonder.
This new form of suspended reality got me pondering the importance of getting ourselves into new spaces when trying to come up with new ideas. One of my favorite geniuses, actor and comedian John Cleese, recommends creating a quiet oasis where one can’t be interrupted when trying to solve a problem. Given his imagination, who knows where he can go—but for many of us, physically moving to a different location spurs creativity.
It’s no coincidence that we often think of more imaginative ideas when we’re in a place of wonder—whether that’s meandering through an outdoor art installation, exploring a foreign city, climbing a trail to watch the sun rise, or watching the surf pound the beach. I believe that once we’ve done some solo ideating, sharing and building on our ideas with others leads to even more potential solutions. I’m fortunate—every ideation room at Ideas To Go has a panoramic view of nature and the sky, but ever since I saw this aerial office, I find myself wishing for a crane! Because to nurture creativity, ya gotta wonder.
Cynthia Ryan is an Innovation Process Facilitator at Ideas To Go. She facilitates customer-centered innovation for Fortune 500 companies across all market categories and industries.
Cynthia Ryan is an Emeritus Innovation Process Facilitator at Ideas To Go, an innovation agency that works with Fortune 500 companies in ideation and concept development to incorporate the voice of the consumer.