Creative spaces for creative thinking

When we think about team dynamics, especially when talking about Scrum, we tend to pigeonhole ourselves heavily in process. We spend a vast amount of time changing up retrospective techniques, checking that we are calculating our velocity, and continuously trying to improve the Definition of Done (DoD).

Don't get me wrong, by no means are these activities unimportant. However, there's one thing - for me at least - that has just as much, if not more importance than any of the above, particularly when it comes to team dynamics...  

Creative Spaces.

No matter what our creative field, we all need inspiration to help us along the way - and with deadlines lurking and having to constantly manage client expectations, it's certainly easy to forgot about what motivates the team.

So why should we focus more on building creative spaces?

Having the right creative space for any kind of team has a great impact on ideas, dynamics, and performance - be it technical software development teams, or non-technical sales teams. A creative workspace:

Nurtures ideas and inspiration: We all have great ideas (even if we think this isn't entirely true). A team can be made up by all kinds of characters and experiences. So use this to the team’s advantage. Get them talking and learning about what gets each other's creative juices flowing. You may find that open conversation and learning leads to a great piece of collaboration which may have never evolved if teams were all siloed.

Creates conversations and builds empathy: Face-to-face discussions are still significantly undervalued. The power of pairing and collaborating with someone else can help eliminate misconceptions and assumptions, ensuring everyone is on the same page. It can also lead to real empathy. Empathy also builds trust and harmony, and with these two factors, people can learn to connect and work together.  

Acts as a creative block breaker: Many times when we find ourselves unable to solve a problem, such as hitting a mental block on a complex piece of code, or writing a blog post. The environment around us can act as a catalyst for breaking down barriers and bringing about that ‘eureka!’ moment.

Building your own creative space

I can already hear you thinking ‘but we don’t have enough space’ or ‘our office consists of cubicles, how can we collaborate?' Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Working Walls - Include a space or area for displaying your work, actions or decisions. This keeps teams working towards collective goals, and encourages others around to give feedback, learn and knowledge-share through visuals.
  • Creative Corners - No spare room? Carve out a creative corner. Don’t let the lack of space stop you from building small breakouts areas and a change of scenery for the team, even if it's a shelf with a few books or a corner for playing games as a means of creative learning. 
  • Desk Diversity - It’s important to converse, so don’t talk about co-locating and collaborating - just do it! Grab your laptop and sit next to the person you need to move that ticket that's been sitting in the 'work in progress' (WIP) column into 'Done'! If you happen to work on a desktop machine, move your chair, pair up and collaborate!
  • Free Furniture - Whether you have a spacious office or work in a startup studio, modular furniture is always a great option to get people building spaces for quick huddles or meetings. So get everyone standing around a table, or better yet remove the table (this stops laptops clustering creative space) and use seats. Break the rules!

Creativity or 'being creative' has a significant importance in today's digital space. So, stop and ask yourself: How would you build a workspace to inspire your team's creativity?