Stop Working to Inspire Innovation
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU GET YOUR BEST WORK DONE THE LONGER YOU SIT AT YOUR DESK?
Or, do your best work ideas and breakthroughs sometimes come when you’re not working?
I seem to solve problems and come up with new ideas when I’m jogging, or playing the guitar, or walking the dog.
Clearing space works for me. Maybe it does for you as well.
It was in that spirit that our team took a trip to the Albright-Knox Museum in Buffalo in late August. One of the world’s great art collections is just down the road.
The team was in between projects, having just delivered the new interface for our Administration tool, and about to begin a new User Experience project to re-think the iVEDiX analytics and data visualization apps, across Windows, iOS, and Android. We had a brief window between a small project ending and a massive one beginning.
So, five of us from the UX team took off on a Tuesday morning and went to look at the Clyfford Still / Mark Bradford show and to explore the museum’s amazing permanent collection. We grazed through the museum for a few hours with the help of a very knowledgeable Docent, had lunch in the cafe, and then a few of our local Developers joined us for a post-lunch meeting to talk about the future of the iVEDiX User Experience. So, we covered a little business, but mostly it wasn’t about that.
HERE’S THE KEY:
We didn’t expect results directly tied to the museum visit. There didn’t have to be an a-ha moment, where we were looking at a Picasso or a Rothko or a Matisse and suddenly all of the User Experience questions we’ve been grappling with came clear. That’s not how it works.
It’s enough to take a breath, get away from the desk, do some team building, and spend some time among the great works of art. It’s necessary to change our viewpoint for a day, see the world a little differently, and refocus the lens.
WE’RE NOT MEANT TO ALWAYS “BE PRODUCTIVE.”
And yes, we’re in business and we need to work to solve problems for our customers and generate revenue for our stakeholders. This team does that daily. And breakthroughs often do come at work.
But, I’d argue that taking a breath will make us better at that. This isn’t about working less: it’s about filling some of the work hours with something other than work. That could mean taking a walk, meditating, looking at some art, hitting a bucket of golf balls… something where the mind is relaxed and space is created for the answers to come. The SIY Initiative, an offshoot of Google, has some eloquent things to say about this.
It’s tough to quantify how much more productive we can be by stopping every once in awhile — and for a company whose sole purpose is to illuminate business issues with data, the irony is clear — but we know it to be true. Stopping work and spending time among the greats can only make us better. All the works from Picasso and Rothko and Matisse told us so.