About The Project
Because Spacebase focuses on providing companies with inspiring and productive environments around the world, we set out on a mission to find the best ways to boost your creativity; thus ExperiMENTAL was born. During the making of this web series, we took 7 groups of complete strangers and gave them each a stimulus to interact with. When they finished their activity, we measured their creative output with standardized creativity tests. Our participants were exposed to a TV-watching session, an exercise class, an unproductive meeting, an interactive meeting, cards against humanity, and copious amounts of alcohol. The results were surprising, interesting, and absolutely hilarious. Take a look for yourself, and stay tuned for more episodes of ExperiMENTAL.
Erin Westover - Host/Co-creator
As the Director of International Strategic Partnerships for Spacebase, Erin was presented with the opportunity to try her hand as a creative, by developing the ExperiMENTAL web series. Her involvement as organizer and host quickly evolved into content creator, scriptwriter, director, editor, and amateur statistician.
Her previous role as an Evolutionary Biology lab assistant allowed for her to structure the content using scientific methods ensuring the legitimacy of the outcomes.
Her passion for the co-working industry and dynamic work habits was tangibly translated into this project.
Jan Hoffmann-Keining - Facilitator/Co-creator
Jan is the co-founder and CMO of Spacebase and has made a name for himself by pushing the boundaries of creativity in the tech startup industry. His never-ending pursuit of intriguing and modern concepts continually inspires his employees to approach every project with unconventional and effective strategies.
Jan conceptualized ExperiMENTAL, and maintained his vision for the web series by facilitating the creativity tests that were conducted in each episode.
His dedication to shaking up traditional work patterns has made Spacebase into a driver in the creative industry that educates it users on the importance of holding productive and experiential meetings.
Tessa Anaya - Storyboard/Co-creator
Aside from being the North American content creator and media specialist for Spacebase, Tessa is a stand up comedian in her spare time. Her creative writing degree often lends a hand to her professional work and her writings can be seen in many online articles, both on and off the Spacebase site. If you’ve read her work, you know it is consistently full of comedic timing combined with well-researched insights. From developing the episode formats for ExperiMENTAL, to illustrating the storyboard, Tessa added her voice to the project with comedic and creative flair.
Interview with Dr. Joachim Krueger - Brown University
Dr. Joachim Krueger is a Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where he focuses his research on various topics of Social and Cognitive Psychology. His contributions include many publications pertaining to his research in social cognition. His book “The Quest for Happiness in 31 Essays,” has recently been published as a kindle edition on Amazon. Dr. Krueger regularly blogs on Psychology Today Online on a wide variety of topics, which is, as he puts it, “promiscuous, opportunistic, and heterodox.” One of his thought-pieces titled Dialectics of Creativity, explores the idea that creative thought and behavior arises from a set of psychological tensions. Because Spacebase is a driver in the creative industry we welcome enhanced understanding of creative output, and what better way than interviewing Dr. Krueger himself.
EW: In the introduction of your thought piece, “Dialectics of Creativity” you mention creativity, when regarded as capacity or process, can be seen as “value-free.” Can you explain how this would be consistent amongst various demographics, i.e., students, working professionals, or international societies?
DJK: By “value-free,” I mean that creativity is not inherently good or bad. Many psychological capacities share this characteristic. Rationality, for example, can be used for good or bad purposes. Likewise, we can use creativity for good or bad ends. Of course, most of us think of our good intentions first, and tend to think of creativity as a positive psychological capacity. That is only natural.
My view is that creativity can play an important role in everyone’s life. Creativity is not limited to experts, artists, or other types of high achievers. What such exceptional achievers have is often called “Big C,” but the rest of us can use and enjoy “Little C,” the kind of everyday creativity that brings variation and inspiration to everyday life. All demographics can partake of Little C.
EW: According to your view of creativity, it emerges from the interplay between opposing forces that are in a perpetual state of push and pull, and if one were to overthrow the other creativity would collapse. What are these opposing forces and how do they mutually encourage creative output?
DJK: There are at least half a dozen of such tensions between opposing forces. I call these ‘dialectics,’ which is a fancy way of saying that there is no free lunch. Let me give you one example. It is a cliché to say that you need to ‘think outside of the box’ in order to be creative. It is a cliché but it is also true. But what does it mean? It is easy to overlook the fact that to think outside of the box you first need to have a box. This means that you need to be familiar with the conventions, routines, and skills of ‘business-as-usual’ in order to transcend them. Salvador Dalí, for example, was an exceptionally creative artist. But he did not just throw paint at the canvas. He was an expert draftsman and master of the techniques of his day. He employed conventional skills in innovative ways. He had done the hard work to understand and master the ‘box’ of his trade, to then go beyond it.
EW: Creativity in many instances pops-up without any traceable origin. These spontaneous thoughts have lead to the many ideas that creativity can be evoked by stimuli based on your immediate surroundings (environment, sound, visual, people, situations etc.). Conversely, creativity is thought to be a cumulation of ideas and experience gathered and stored subconsciously over our lifetime, and appear as spontaneous in the moment of discovery. In your opinion what is the most effective driver of creativity when considering these two positions?
DJK: The first position you are describing is what intuition and subjective experience suggest to us, that is, we sometimes feel that creative ideas come out of nowhere. They seem to present themselves spontaneously in consciousness. The second position you are describing is more in line with psychological science. Most of our mental work is not available to our awareness. Some call this work ‘incubation.’ Ideas, such as bits of images or verbal associations, can be connected and rearranged until they cohere in a Gestalt that makes sense or provides an answer to a question we have had. At that point, the result pops into awareness and we say Aha!, not being privy to the magic that has occurred underground. The dialectic here is that although the process appears to be spontaneous, the ground needs to be prepared so that we may enjoy creative insights. The dialectic here is between effortful study on the one hand, and relaxation and temporary withdrawal from the task on the other.
EW: When we refer to thinking out-of-the-box, this usually refers to moving beyond social confines. When exploring out-of-the-box brainstorming can we expect creative output to be hindered by various social situations including peer-pressure, or static working environments?
DJK: Absolutely. It is interesting to note society tends emphasize creative production, while at the same time inhibiting it. Organizations, for example, pride themselves of innovation and they demand that their workforce contribute to it. At the same time, creativity is perceived as a threat. Creativity, by definition, breaks new ground; it may even change the game. Societies, social groups, and organizations tend to be conservative. They have an interest in perpetuation hierarchies and power structures. From this point of view, creativity and innovation poses a potential threat. Ideally, an organization would say to its members ‘Be creative, but please don’t overdo it.’
EW: As stated previously, you describe creativity as being value-free with regards to principles or learned perspectives. With that being said, do you think that this process should have a monetary value when companies look to invest in the productive outcome from their employees?
DJK: As creativity is a pre-condition of innovation, and as innovation is a pre-condition for success, creativity is among the antecedents or precursors of profit. Companies vary greatly in how and how much they encourage and invest into employee’s creative pursuit. Overall, I think that such efforts should be stepped up in our time, and I think that it is critical that the originators of creative production, by it individuals or groups, receive due credit. All too often, credit is syphoned off by individuals higher up in the organizational hierarchy.
EW: In your personal opinion do you think there is validity to pursuing research pertaining to the idea that creative productivity correlates with environmental surroundings/stimuli in the workplace?
DJK: Your question, I think, is whether work environments can be designed to foster creativity. The short answer is yes. A variety of physical factors (e.g., office design), social factors (type and frequency of meetings), and personal factors (habits of thought) can be leveraged to enhance creative output. Again, the main obstacles are habit, tradition, fear of status-ranking upsets etc.
Interview with Simon Dewulf - AULIVE
Simon Dewulf is a researcher and entrepreneur. He wrote his PhD thesis on innovation and was given the INSEAD Innogator prize for Innovator of the Year in 2010. He subsequently founded his first company CREAX, which focuses on bringing together analytical thinking and creativity, which allowed him the expertise to develop the creativity test, TestMyCreativity.com, used during the making of Spacebase ExperiMENTAL. The test has been featured in BBC World and the New York Times helping it become one of the most popular online creativity test. Today, Dewulf continues to develop various ideas on the structuring of creativity while bringing a more analytical approach to innovation and inspiration. We caught up with Simon Dewulf, to find out how his research can be utilized and applied by anyone looking to for better ways to gauge, or integrate creativity.
EW: What led you to become an expert in innovation and creativity?
SD: At Imperial College I was invited to conduct a research project for the UK Department of Education and Employment to study how engineering could become more creative; less ‘engine’, more ‘ingenious’. As I was always interested in engineering creativity, I took up the study as a PhD research topic, and started my company CREAX in 2000. There we were studying the best approaches to creative thinking for innovation. Soon we came up with our own structure combining the best/new insights to our Innovation Logic.
EW: How did you create your creativity test?
SD: Darrell Mann, then part of CREAX, did the research. He took existing research in the field, and combined it all into the test of today. When BBC World and the New York Times covered it in 2003, it became a very popular test.
EW: It can be hard to inspire creativity in technology, as it can be very methodical. What are some tips or questions to ask when searching for creativity in tech?
SD: I believe it is a process like maths. Some people are better at it than others, but everyone can improve by using a structured approach. It is easy to classify knowledge for inspiration. Once theses structured approaches or systems are used as checklist for innovators, the step by step approach is a very fruitful process to generate new ideas.
EW: What are the major hurdles to overcome when trying to inspire innovative mindsets or creativity?
SD: One of them is that we tend to look in our own domain. We are not always aware that we blind ourselves to anything else…the fish doesn’t know he’s wet. To open up to other domains, and be willing to explore existing solutions across industries is the first hurdle to overcome. That can then help us to use global knowledge as inspiration to our own challenges. The hurdle of ‘not invented here’ should change to ‘proudly found elsewhere’. For example, the patent database is an excellent tool to find where those other “domains” are, which could actually be an expert tool used to assist with the challenges we face today.
EW: Your company hosts a variety of innovation workshops. What do you hope your participant will take away from these sessions?
SD: The workshops are about giving the people a structured approach to idea generation for innovating any product or process, on one side, and on the other side, to have an easy access to the global knowledge through Patent Inspiration, so you can challenge the brains of the best inventors in the world.
EW: What are some behaviors or beliefs that you’ve seen that majorly hinder innovation/creativity?
SD: When people say they are realist, it often means they are pessimist. The glass can be half empty or half full, or too big. I believe worrying and creative thinking are the same but opposite, they are basically about what can go wrong or right.
There is a lot of work on creative hinders, spaces, constraints, expressions to avoid, postponement of judgment, and I believe known researchers have dealt with this. I haven’t really focused on them.
EW: What are some behaviors or beliefs you’ve seen that boost, or nurture innovation and creativity?
SD: Good and different meeting spaces, along with design thinking. If we place a set of new products in an innovation gallery (a design thinking structure), we can copy existing concepts to inspire new ideas. If you create an abstract of your product or business in subtasks by using major brands as a marker (IKEA, Virgin, Skype, etc), their success, as well as their humble beginnings can inspire and remove blocks to help you move through your own limitations. In any case, a canvas, structure, plan will boost creativity immensely, since it then changes from ‘what could we do’ to ‘this is how other people made successful innovations’. At the end of the day, innovation is predictable, because we as customers always want more of the good, less of the bad, easier and cheaper, and we want function, whatever the solution (maybe, we want to communicate, but not always by phone, or maybe we want transport, but not always by car, etc). How these solutions evolve can be extrapolated, we just have to fill in the gaps.
Why we did it:
Billions of dollars are spent on meetings every year, yet many companies continue to facilitate unproductive, repetitive, traditional, and non-thought provoking meetings in uninspiring locations everyday. Because Spacebase focuses on providing companies with inspiring and productive environments around the world, we set out on a mission to find the best ways to boost creativity; thus ExperiMENTAL was born. During the making of this web series, we took seven groups of complete strangers and gave them each a stimulus to interact with. When they finished their activity, we measured their creative output with standardized creativity tests. Our participants were exposed to a Netflix-watching session, an exercise class, an unproductive meeting, an interactive meeting, cards against humanity, and copious amounts of alcohol.
We decided to experiment with various stimuli to create pathways that will lead to new ideas contributing to the future of meetings. Whether it be using your surroundings by drawing on the wall instead of in a notebook, or participating in a yoga class before a brainstorming session, we believe that the process of obtaining the highest level of creativity comes from provoking stagnant tendencies.
The purpose of the web series, as well as the ethos of Spacebase are about breaking down the confines of traditional meetings, while congruently promoting innovation through environment.
How we did it:
We took seven groups of participants and asked them to perform an online creativity test provided by TestMyCreativity.com, which allowed us to appropriately distribute individuals to maintain similarly averaged groups based on their test scores (Figure 1). The test accounts for eight metrics (abstraction, connection, perspective, curiosity, boldness, paradox, complexity, persistence) that determine a well-rounded test result that scores current creative ability between 0-100.
The participants were then put into groups of 4-9 individuals and provided with various stimuli to determine the effects on their creative output.
Our first episode compared the creative influence of a Zumba fitness class with an hour long relaxed Netflix-watching session. The second episode compared the creative results from an unproductive meeting in a traditional setting with those of an interactive meeting in an inspiring location. The third episode compared the creative results from three different stimuli: a sober group and a slightly tipsy group which played ‘Cards Against Humanity’ and a third, very intoxicated group who played a variety of drinking games.
After each stimulus activity, the groups were given standardized creativity tests, such as the candle test, the associative object test (a box and a tire), and the 9 dots test. The groups were scored on whether they were able to complete the tasks with various solutions and how many suggestions were given by the group as a whole (Figure 2). Based on the cumulative score of all groups, the total average was calculated at 6.82 suggestions per participant from all activities combined. The Group Creative Output illustrated in Figure 3 was reached by comparing the creative performance of each group as compared to the total cumulative average score. Groups with positive percentages produced more creative output than the average while groups with negative percentages gave less creative output. All calculations were adjusted for number of participants in each group.
What we found:
The interactive meeting showed an increase of 14.7% above the average creative output of 6.82 responses per person, the tipsy group showed an increase of 27.4 %, and the Zumba fitness group with an astounding increase of 51%.
When we debriefed the participants from these groups (Interactive, Tipsy and Zumba), many of them reported being comfortable with each other as a reason for their positive performance, as well as a sense of community when approaching the creative tasks. When observing the groups we found that these highly creative responses came from stimuli that encouraged groups to work together, helping to break down social barriers allowing for the free flow of creativity.
The antithetical results showed the Netflix session to decrease creative productivity to 15% below the average creative output of 6.82, while the drunk group showed a decrease of 32.6%, and the unproductive meeting showed a decrease of 41.9% (Figure 3).
Participants from the Netflix group and the unproductive meeting attributed their poor performance to not feeling comfortable because they weren’t able to develop camaraderie with those in the group; thus were less likely to feel comfortable giving input. The participants in the drunk group developed a strong bond, however were not able to concentrate on the tasks once they were inebriated.
Why this is interesting:
Many companies are looking to maximize creative output from their employees, which is more relevant today than ever before, as all companies strive towards innovation. Offices have changed their culture to accommodate the various work habits of their employees, as this often translates into increased productivity. The ethos of Spacebase were built from the ideology that meetings should be effective and inspiring to encourage creativity, as that is where most companies facilitate brainstorming and decision making.
We conducted this study to bring awareness to the drastic effects on creative output when given subtle changes to traditional and unstimulating meetings.
Contributors: Prof. Dr. Dirk Hagen, SRH Hochschule Berlin and Erin Westover, ISP Spacebase GmbH
Rent 24 Coworking, Schöneberg, Berlin
Rent 24 is a leading provider in productive and inspiring workspaces, which is exemplified in their community ethos. This unique location embodies the perfect stimulus when considering a creative and inspiring environment. The team at Rent 24 provided Spacebase not only with a film location, but an all around experience that included hospitality and endless support with the ExperiMENTAL project. The spaces are featured in all three episodes, as well as the hosting location in episode 3, Sober vs. Tipsy vs. Drunk.Take a look
Ahoy! Coworking, Mitte, Berlin
Ahoy! Is a coworking space that supports up and coming businesses with an innovative focus. The Berlin location has an undeniably attractive esthetic with a seafaring perspective. The space entails office rentals, desk rentals, and the ability to host meetings in their brightly lit conference rooms. Ahoy! provided Spacebase with a film location for the intro to episode 1, Netflix vs. Zumba.Take a look
Village, Tiergaten, Berlin
Village is a uniquely designed, open concept multipurpose space bordering Tiergaten and Schöneberg. Their space provided the perfect situation to host the Zumba fitness group in episode 1, Netflix vs. Zumba. Seeing that team Zumba had the highest score compared with all of our participating groups, it is clear the effect this space has on creativity.Take a look
The Apartment, Neukölln, Berlin
The Apartment is a quaint location provided by the co-founders of Spacebase. This cozy meeting room located in Berlin's trendy Neukölln district was the space used to host the Netflix group in episode 1, Netflix vs. Zumba.Take a look
Sankt Oberholz, Mitte, Berlin
Oberholz is a known for its multiple cafes in the trendiest areas in Berlin; however they are equally known for their coworking spaces that inhabit the most eclectic group of entrepreneurs in the city's 12 boroughs. If you are looking for an intriguing and productive workspace you can also host an offsite meeting in one of their classic workshop rooms. Their generosity allowed for us to film the interactive meeting in episode 2, Unproductive vs. Interactive.Take a look
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