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Harbouring creative thinking – The Gilbert & George way

Giving people time and space to think is always a difficult ask in an increasingly busy world. But I think it is vital to a business performing well. We tend to want constant results, to be always delivering something. But we can only deliver better results if we continue to think differently and expand what we do. As a leader I am always thinking how do I harbour an environment that encourages creative thinking and turns it into useful company outcomes.

One weekend, one of my “cool” friends was telling me about the artist Gilbert & George as she had seen them on one of their daily trips to a Turkish restaurant in Dalston. I didn’t know much about them so my friend explained that they were awarded winning artists, world renowned. She also told me they eat in that restaurant every night, they have the same food at the same time at the same table, and that most of their lives are pretty much that way too.

This fascinated me. Why would they do this? I looked them up afterwards and sure enough they do eat there every night. They also wear the same clothes everyday (they have a number of these suits), have the same breakfast at the same time and the same café – Their day is perfectly structure, tea breaks , watching TV……………. They do this to free up their creative minds for their art work. They believe by taking away having to make small decisions all the time such as what to wear, or what to eat they free their minds to be more creative, more innovative in what they do.

Is this successful? Well, they’ve won multiple international awards, their pieces sell for millions and they are world renowned for being one of the most creative artists of a generation. So not bad.

We couldn’t afford Gilbert & George but I do use their ways of working to allow my teams head space to think, come up with ideas, think way beyond the possible, and to make mistakes. But this allows new ways of thinking to come out and helps us to do things differently and better. We then need to make sure we have the correct structure in place to brings these back to business objectives.