February 2011

Pick Your Place, On Purpose

2012-07-06T10:34:15+00:00 Categories: create, grow, SandBlog, solve, think|Tags: , , , , , |

The most up to date list of locations can be found on the Places page within Brainstorming Tools section.

You have to love when someone “makes your case” – that is – says or supports something you believe in as well.

Today’s post by Seth Godin makes the case that space matters.

This supports what I call the 3Ps of brainstorming and strategy meetings: people, process, and place. The most successful and productive meetings are a result of pulling together the right people, using the right process, hosted in the right place.

People and process? Most of us prepare for this. Being even more deliberate will improve our meetings. But the majority of us are way off when it comes to place.

We don’t consider the space. We don’t pick the place on purpose. When hosting an off-site, we get the space for free at the hotel where we book our rooms.

Conference space is provided when you buy the food package. Instead of booking rooms from people in the catering business, why not from people in the idea business? The strategy business? In your business?

Here is a partial list of places you can pick. Here in the US, in the UK, and some great spots in Holland. These are places that put the meeting and atmosphere first.

Purposeful Places

Destinations conducive for problem solving.

This list doesn’t include meeting space in hotel and convention centers. While they offer physical space, I have yet to find a hotel venue that is very inspirational.

North America

East Coast

Meet

(NYC, NY) – Dedicated space in New York where creative and business executives can gather to re-imagine their business.” Opened, 2008.

SoHoSoleil

(NYC, NY) – Offers many locations throughout the NYC area suited for meetings, photo shoots, videos and movie sets. Contact: 212-431-8224 or

Mid-America

Catalyst Ranch

(Chicago, IL) – Eva Niewiadomski’s place. Five rooms of fun. A well known – perhaps the most popular in the US – creative space for rent. Opened in 2002.

Eureka! Ranch

(Cincinnati, OH) – Doug Hall started with a mansion, and upgraded to a whole ranch. He has perfected the science of innovation. Opened in 1992.

Idea Loft

(Kansas City, MO) – Chuck Dymer’s PeopleWorks location. Because space matters.

Thinkubator

(Chicago, IL) Gerald Haman founded SolutionPeople a creativity and innovation training and development firm in 1989 and his creative meeting space – the Thinkubator.

SparkSpace

(Columbus, OH) – Mark Henson, chief imagination officer, offers space and programs to help businesses be more creative. He offers a great newsletter. And a surprise hidden on his voicemail system.
(Hint…. push "6"). Opened in 2000.

Canada

headspace

(Calgary, Alberta) – As the site reads… “Welcome to a different kind of creative thinking space. Headspace aids in the exchange of ideas by providing the most flexible, supportive meeting space in Calgary. By removing physical and organizational barriers, Headspace promotes dialogue, ignites collaboration and inspires creativity. The best thinking always happens when you’re in the right Headspace.” Opened in 2011.

United Kingdom

The Boardwalk

(Manchester, England) – a ‘light, airy, spacious, urban’ location. Managed by ?WhatIf!

The Old Laundry

(London, UK) – “At The Laundry you won’t find any hard backed chairs, grey Formica tables or migraine inducing florescent strip lights – we believe that to be the kind of setting which saps your creative energy.” Managed by ?WhatIf!

Europe

The Netherlands – Amsterdam

Heineken – The City

Book an inspiring room in the heart of Amsterdam. Heineken the City is the ideal location for a day of brainstorming, team building or meetings in inspiring surroundings. Our spaces each have a unique interior and their environment and offer you the newest in multi-media facilities. They have three rooms:

Hub Amsterdam

A membership-based work and meeting space. Located near Amsterdam’s Central Train Station. (No membership fee necessary). Hub has many locations across the world. (Click on “Go To Hub” from the site’s menu for other locations).

SPACES: Amsterdam

Spaces offers office space for rent in inspiring surroundings in Amsterdam. At Spaces you not only rent square meters, but supporting services of all kinds of your choosing, such a reception service, office equipment, technical assistance, and catering of your meeting. All at reasonable prices.  Spaces also has a restaurant, coffee bar and plenty of seating for an informal conversation. Rooms for small and large groups.

The Netherlands – Den Haag

Future Center – The Buitenhuis

Billed as an inspiring, creative, and innovative location to work on policy and organization issues.

(If you run a space I haven’t listed, I’ll be happy to include it in the Places section of Idea Sandbox.)

Below is Seth’s post today, in full.

The space matters

It might be a garage or a sunlit atrium, but the place you choose to do what you do has an impact on you.

More people get engaged in Paris in the springtime than on the 7 train in Queens. They just do. Something in the air, I guess.

Pay attention to where you have your brainstorming meetings. Don’t have them in the same conference room where you chew people out over missed quarterly earnings.

Pay attention to the noise and the smell and the crowd in the place where you’re trying to overcome being stuck. And as Paco Underhill has written, make the aisles of your store wide enough that shoppers can browse without getting their butts brushed by other shoppers.

Most of all, I think we can train ourselves to associate certain places with certain outcomes. There’s a reason they built those cathedrals. Pick your place, on purpose.

November 2009

Off-Site Meetings: Last Century Technology

2012-05-07T22:30:51+00:00 Categories: Destination, SandBlog|Tags: , , , , , , |

The most up to date list of locations can be found on the Places page within Brainstorming Tools section.

Did use an abacus or slide rule to build your FY’10 budgets?

To prepare and distribute information about next year’s Marketing Plan did you use a typewriter and make a duplicate with a layer of ink paper?

Or did you hand crank copies on a Ditto (or Verifax) machine?

 

Of course you didn’t. That would be crazy and inefficient. We have invented better and more efficient tools.

With that said.. while we are in the 21st century… there is a tool that is stuck somewhere in the mid-1900s: The Off-Site Meeting.

It is interesting we don’t perceive meetings as a “tool” the same way we do a photocopier, computer, or even the coffee maker.

And, of all meetings, the “off-site” is critically important. So important, it warrants sending a hand-picked group away from the office, sleeping away from their families, huddled in a hotel conference room for three days, not allowed to return with out “the plan.”

Yet we put no thought to the meeting room. It is a “people container.”

Meeting Space = Commodity

Look up commodity in the dictionary, and there will be a picture of a hotel meeting room. Tan. Accordion folding walls. Wall to wall patterned carpeting. Sweaty pitchers of water dripping into black coasters. A small paper pad and hotel logo pen. Sums up 99.9% of the meetings and conferences you’ve attended, right?

And we don’t care… when we book it. We ask the office admin to call around and find a cheap place that can hold the number of people we’re bringing. If there was a preference, it would be something like: “Oh, let’s stay at that place we were last timelikes their Caesar salad.”

Yet, as marketers and business people we intimately understand the importance of environment and ambiance and the affect it has on behavior and action. We create it for our customers everyday. Especially right now, the holiday season is when we pull out the stops! Christmas lights, holiday music, decorations, special programs and themes… All this to create a more pleasant environment mood and environment conducive for purchasing.

Pay Per Stomach

And the hotel doesn’t care… what you do in the room. They just want to know how many stomachs will be present.

Catering Manager:

    “How many?”

Your Assistant:

    “18 maybe 20.”

Catering Manager:

    “Okay, that’ll be $45 per person for breakfast, buffet-style lunch, and an afternoon snack.”

We literally pay “per stomach.”

And, because the rooms are where hotels make their money – book enough rooms and there is no additional charge for use of the room – just the food costs. But, of course that does NOT include all the tools for the meeting itself. Add on fees for renting the projector, a mic, access to the internet, easels, flipcharts…

The room is tan to be generic. To accommodate yesterday’s Bar Mitzvah, your meeting today, and the wedding reception this weekend.

That is the venue that we think will inspire the multi-million dollar strategy and “killer idea?”

Today’s meeting spaces are the equivalent of using the Ditto machine. With hard work you can crank stuff out… But your results will be inconsistent, sloppy, and slightly blurry.

The Solution?

Hire A Better Space – If you’re going to have an off-site where creative thinking, problem solving, and new ideas are involved – get yourself into a space that will inspire you – yet not be distracting for your work.

Below I’ve listed a few places throughout the United States and Europe built to be a creative space for creating thinking. But it doesn’t have to be a ‘meeting space’ either. You could get inspiration from your local art museum, science museum, or zoo. Find a place that works for your particular group.

Hire A Better Lead – If you don’t have someone on your team skilled at leading groups or drawing ideas out of people – hire someone. (This will also allow you to relax and focus on coming up with the “killer idea” instead of running the meeting).

What spaces have you found inspiration for you and your team?

This article originally posted on the Marketing Prof’s Daily Fix Blog.
Image Source: OfficeMuseum.com

September 2009

Process + People + Place =
Perfect (Brain) Storm

2010-09-22T20:27:49+00:00 Categories: Destination|Tags: , , |

In June, I posted an article called How To Create The Perfect (Brain) Storm.

I shared the perspective that a great brainstorm or strategy session… heck ANY great meeting… is a combination of the right people, the right process, at the right place.

Upon exploring this thought further, I realized there is a priority to these elements… Not only are all three important, but they’re important in the right order.

When I turn the diagram sideways, you can see how they build on each other.

The PLACE is important… the space where people feel safe, free from distraction, and can be inspired.

However, the place is useless without PEOPLE to populate it. Yes, people are the ultimate source of brilliant ideas that lead to innovation, however, just sitting around winging-it (even in an inspirational space) won’t efficiently lead to the solutions you are after.

However, you gather these people in a place led by someone with the right PROCESS (includes tools), and you’ve got yourself a winner. The process forms the base, the strength of the entire process.

If you don’t have a good process figured out (or hired out) don’t bother meeting. All the great minds in even the most inspirational spot won’t make good use of your time.

Background

I offer these thoughts as I’m crafting the Idea Sandbox Brainstorming Destination. I will provide the PROCESS and the PLACE, you provide the PEOPLE and the PROBLEM to be solved.

June 2009

How To Create The Perfect (Brain) Storm

2017-03-01T11:56:29+00:00 Categories: Destination, grow, SandBlog|Tags: , , |

Have you ever been in a brainstorming or strategy meeting where all the elements seemed just right and ideas just kept flowing and flowing? You and your team were able to hit ideas “out of the park?”

Chances are you had…

  1. the right people assembled,
  2. the right process and tools, and were,
  3. in the right place… where people felt safe to think big ideas and were free from distraction.

I call these conditions the Perfect (Brain) Storm… When all the elements come together just so, and ideas just seem to flow.

What a great situation! However, the climate for this type of brainstorm and creating wicked good ideas doesn’t have to be left to chance. You can craft this by gathering the right people, with the right process, at the right place.

People

You need a skilled facilitator. Someone who can keep the team on track. Push when people aren’t opening up, and know – when the conversation is stalled or getting tangental – how to re-direct to the topic at hand.

This person leads the right group of people, who are in the right mind frame, and feel safe to think and suggest the big thoughts.

Process

The problem you are trying to solve needs to be clearly defined. I strongly recommend structured sessions with an ice breaker, scheduled breaks, and short bursts of brainstorming activity. Each of these bursts should be designed to address a key aspect of the problem.

Place

While great ideas can happen when you’re in the shower or driving to work… If you’re working with a group of two or more people, being in a space conducive for discussion, free of work distraction and “noise” ensure the ideas will come much, much easier.

Keep these in mind when you want to schedule your next Perfect (Brain) Storm!