Walk the pod

At the beginning of the second UK lockdown, I wanted to go for walks in my lunch break. But somehow didn’t.

I don’t know what happened.

I’d be working, and it was easy enough to do a little more work when it hit noon. Before I knew it, my ‘lunch break’ was over and I was still at my desk.

In the mornings, it was dark and cold. By the time the working day was over, it was pitch black outside. Not very inviting.

Lunchtime was the time to take a break – but how to get away from my desk?

I put a sign up in my bedroom which said, “you’ll feel better if you go for a walk this morning” with a smily face. ‘This is bordering on madness’ I thought to myself, but perhaps it will work.

It didn’t.

I changed the sign. Now it said, “They don’t pay you enough not to look after yourself.”

No change.

‘I wish I had a dog’, I mused to myself one evening as I was contemplating this abject failure to do something simple to look after myself. But I’m not allowed pets at my flat.

Then it hit me.

If I had another commitment to walk, I would have to go, wouldn’t I?

I thought about all the people I knew who might walk with me. None of my friends live close enough.

Nope, I would have to create a commitment for myself.

And so I started a podcast called ‘Walk the pod.’ I walk my podcast at lunch time because I don’t have a dog.

I’ve been for a walk at lunchtime every day since.

It’s now possible to play music as part of a podcast, and this project runs on Spotify. I choose tracks to play in between rambles.

If you have Spotify premium you’ll hear full tracks in between the bits where I’m talking about dogs I can see in the park. If you don’t, you’ll get a random 30 seconds of each song. But enough to know why I’ve picked them. The playlist is largely dependent on my mood and the weather. Today I’m going to be playing Beyoncé.

It’s not so much a comedy project as a mental health project, but it is funny.

Have a listen. I hope that it will help you to walk as much as it’s helping me.

Impartiality at the BBC

For 10 years, between 2006 and 2016, my alarm clock went off at 3.30am.

I’d stagger into the shower before being whisked to Broadcasting House in the back of a cab. If I was lucky, I’d doze against the window of a warm and womb-like Toyota Prius.

If I was unlucky, Steve Allen would be on the radio.

Safely inside the revolving doors of BH, I’d take the lift to the third floor and head to the control room of the Today studio, glancing over my shoulder to see whether Humphrys was in.

If he was, it would be a morning of anxiety. Finding his headphones, hoping his breakfast bowl hadn’t gone missing again. We did our best to set everything up as he liked it, we wanted an easy life.

My job was to keep the show to time, which meant getting the presenters and guests to stop talking.

I wasn’t popular.

When the pips squeaked at 05:59’55 (more on the pips here), the Editor would saunter in with a latte, hoof an armful of broadsheets onto her desk and assume the ‘God’ position, directly behind me.

The Editor’s job was to direct the big ‘8.10’ interview, deal with breaking news and monitor incoming email.

If a similar number of emails accused us of rampant left wing bias as rampant right wing bias over the course of a morning, we’d call that a win.

Today, BBC impartiality remains in the spotlight.

It’s arguably the most important challenge the organisation faces as the charter comes up for renewal at the end of the decade.

Political neutrality

It should be impossible for the public to work out the political leanings of a BBC programme or presenter.

One of Humphry’s predecessors, Brian Redhead, conducted a minute’s silence (or at least threatened to) when Nigel Lawson appeared on the programme and suggested he knew which way Redhead voted.

BBC journalists have to remain professionally neutral, but they get a vote in elections. They take part in the democratic process privately, just like everyone else.

But impartiality guidelines are now being rolled out to wider issues. Issues on which it’s difficult to find an equivalent ‘neutral’ position.

New guidance

Tim Davie, the newly appointed Director-General, sent an email to staff this week entitled, ‘Renewing our commitment to impartiality.’

Davie reminded staff, particularly those working in news that, “Impartiality is one of the cornerstones of the BBC’s relationship with the audiences we serve. Thanks to everyone’s outstanding work we have a strong and hard-won reputation for fairness and balance. We want to ensure that we keep building the trust people have in us.”

He went on to link to fresh guidance on impartiality, including a section on ‘Participating in marches and protests.’

“People working in news and current affairs and factual journalism (across all Divisions), as set out in the Guidelines, should not participate in public demonstrations or gatherings about controversial issues.”

What are ‘controversial issues?’

“It should be assumed that most marches are contentious to some degree or other.”

Around 3,500 staff cannot now take part in marches, tweet, RT or like ‘controversial’ social media posts, or speak publicly on issues that might cause controversy.

The problem is that political and social neutrality are not the same. Political neutrality is not demonstrating allegiance to a political party. But every journalist gets a vote.

The equivalent of a vote for contentious issues is turning up at a protest. If a staff member wants to attend but is not allowed to, their vote is placed on the other side by their non-attendance.

I’m not sure the BBC can make that decision for staff members.

‘Clarification’

The guidelines were ‘clarified’ on Friday morning.

Staff are allowed to attend LGBT+ events, so long as they are ‘commemorative or celebratory.’

“Staff need to ensure that they are not seen to be taking a stand on politicised or contested issues.”

Pride is never just ‘commemorative or celebratory.’ Pride events are fun. That doesn’t mean they’re not protests.

The LGBT+ community has been fighting for change, equality and acceptance at Pride related events since 1969. And there is still a mountain to climb. The idea that all we want to do is to celebrate how far we’ve come is patronising and ignorant of the myriad issues faced by LGBT+ communities.

If it’s about not being seen to take a stand, it’s important to realise that banning staff from participating in marches is a stand.

Keeping away is a decision. And it’s a decision for the individual, not the Corporation.

Remembering Phil Hutchinson

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Phil, on a balcony at Broadcasting House. Photo by Marianne Khoo.

I met Phil in 2006 in the lobby of Bush House in London. We’d been recruited as trainee Studio Managers and were about to be sent to the Beeb’s training centre, Wood Norton in Evesham, to learn how to manage studios. Presumably. We didn’t know exactly what to expect at the time.

What we should have expected was a man telling us that the women on the training course would be SMs ‘for a few years until you go off and have babies’, another who told us there was a dragon in the mixing desks (or was it a wizard?), and a collection of incredible people at the canteen who wore elaborate fancy dress every Friday, rain or shine, and committed to it with zeal, imagination and themed menus.

Phil wore the cheekiest of grins throughout. He simultaneously took it very seriously and found it tremendous fun. Which was more or less Phil’s approach to life. It was an excellent three weeks.

We trained and drank and argued and I had to rethink how I saw the world. Things I thought were funny were, in fact, sexist, racist and/or homophobic. Phil nudged me into a better way of thinking without judgement.

He was one of the few out, gay people I’d met. This also had a huge influence on my closeted 25-year-old self. I admired his confidence, his curiosity and his passion for all the things he was into.

Phil knew who he was, what he liked and didn’t at a young age. He had a solid kind of morality. He knew a lot about a lot of stuff. Classical music, economics, history and politics were in his wheelhouse but it was an extensive wheelhouse. This list doesn’t begin to cover it.

He loved Terry Pratchett, travelling and climbing. When I met him he had already toured with a youth orchestra and travelled the world. The photo was taken after someone had smuggled an ice-axe into Broadcasting House at Phil’s request.

He had a desk-globe at his flat which he topped with an Indiana-Jones-style hat. He was the sort of person you could arrange to meet in Red Square in a fortnight and he’d be there. Wearing the hat.

In 2014, Phil took a sabbatical from the BBC to go to the Banff Centre, to learn how they do audio engineering in Canada. He died in a car accident that December.

I don’t know what Phil would have gone on to do with his life, but I do feel a profound sense of loss for all the fields he could have made a difference to, and all the people who miss him.

Today is his birthday, so I thought I’d write down a few memories.

Do add yours below.

Here Comes the Rain Again

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It’s raining.

South London, reset to factory settings.

In the fourth Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy novel, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, there’s a character called Rob Mckenna, a Rain God.

He’s a lorry driver and it rains on him every day.

As he drove on, the rainclouds dragged down the sky after him, for, though he did not know it, Rob McKenna was a Rain God.

All he knew was that his working days were miserable and he had a succession of lousy holidays.

All the clouds knew was that they loved him and wanted to be near him, to cherish him, and to water him.”

Douglas Adams, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Rob Mckenna ends up making good money being paid by a tour operator “not to go to Malaga this year”.

Here are some types of rain listed in the book:

33 (light pricking drizzle which made the roads slippery), 39 (heavy spotting), 47 to 51 (vertical light drizzle through to sharply slanting light to moderate drizzle freshening), 87 and 88 (two finely distinguished varieties of vertical torrential downpour), 100 (post-downpour squalling, cold), all the seastorm types between 192 and 213 at once, 123, 124, 126, 127 (mild and intermediate cold gusting, regular and syncopated cab-drumming), 11 (breezy droplets) and now his least favourite of all, 17.

Rain type 17 was a dirty blatter battering against his windscreen so hard that it didn’t make much odds whether he had his wipers on or off.”

Douglas Adams, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

My favourite is characterised by huge droplets, or ‘froglets’ of water, which you cannot stand in for more than 5 minutes without getting soaked to the skin. I’m going to call that number 42.

Is it raining with you?

Trying to find your voice? Listen

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Photo by Steinar Engeland on Unsplash

I worked with BBC Light Entertainment for six weeks in 2015 on Vote Now Show during the 2015 election.

The work culminated in an all-nighter as the results came in and half a dozen sleep-deprived writers attempted to get our heads around a Tory landslide, and then make jokes about it.

There weren’t enough biscuits.

One meeting stuck with me from this time. Various comedians were being discussed with a view to casting them to write monologues on various topics for the show. An exec producer described an act as having ‘found her voice’ recently.

I was immediately fascinated by this idea.

What is a voice, and how do I get one?

This morning, reading Maria Popova on voice, “the waveform of the soul in writing”, I found this from poet Jane Hirshfield:

Voice … is the body language of a poem — the part that cannot help but reveal what it is.

Everything that has gone into making us who we are is held there. Yet we also speak of writers “finding their voice.” The phrase is both meaningful and odd, a perennial puzzle: how can we “find” what we already use?

The answer lies, paradoxically, in the quality of listening that accompanies self-aware speech: singers, to stay in tune, must hear not only the orchestral music they sing with, but also themselves.

Similarly, writers who have “found a voice” are those whose ears turn at once inward and outward, both toward their own nature, thought patterns, and rhythms, and toward those of the culture at large.”

– Jane Hirshfield

So the good news is you have it already. It’s just a case of listening, paying attention to yourself and the world, and of course practice, dedication and discipline.

This American Life’s Ira Glass has a soothing explanation for why the first few years of making creative work is so frustrating:

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this.

We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.

Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

― Ira Glass

And when he says the first ‘couple years’ he means 10.

The Interconnectedness of All Things

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Photo by Matt Hoffman on Unsplash

In the course of creative endeavours, artists and scientists join fragments of knowledge into a new unity of understanding.”

– Vera John-Steiner

Ideas are ‘just’ connections between existing elements.

Sherlock Holmes is the product of 19th-century detective fiction and medical investigation.

Holmes’s deductive powers were inspired by some of Arthur Conan Doyle’s medical lecturers, including Dr. Joseph Bell.

In a rare piece of film from 1930, Conan Doyle depicted Bell’s extraordinary ability to diagnose patients on sight:

He would look at the patient, he would hardly allow the patient to open his mouth, but he would make his diagnosis of the disease, also, very often, of the patient’s nationality and occupation and other points, entirely by his power of observation.

So naturally, I thought to myself, well, if a scientific man like Bell was to come into the detective business, he wouldn’t do these things by chance, he’d get the thing by building it up, scientifically.”

– Arthur Conan Doyle

Doyle became obsessed with Spiritualism as he got older, travelling the world to visit mediums and psychics, searching for ‘positive proof.’

The conclusion, then, of my long search after truth, is that in spite of occasional fraud… there remains a great solid core in this movement which is infinitely nearer to positive proof than any other religious development with which I am acquainted.”

– Arthur Conan Doyle, The New Revelation, 1918

Connecting Sherlock Holmes and spiritualism gives us Dirk Gently, Douglas Adams’ ‘holistic’ detective.

Gently is a creative extrapolation of Holmes’s technique of eliminating the impossible to reveal the truth.

What if the famous detective had embraced the impossible?

Sherlock Holmes observed that once you have eliminated the impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.”

– Dirk Gently, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

The Gently stories feature ghosts, time travel and ‘interconnectedness.’

Despite continually probing his own belief systems, Adams described himself as a ‘radical atheist,’ (adding ‘radical’ to show he really meant it.)

In a thought experiment designed to falsify the finely tuned universe argument for God (and typical of a man obsessed with baths and rain) Adams describes the thoughts of a sentient puddle:

This is an interesting world I find myself in – an interesting hole I find myself in – fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!”

– Douglas Adams

Adams looked at the universe from other perspectives and what he found permeated his work. If you enjoyed this, you might like this article about keeping an open mind.

Creativity requires more than a meeting

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I’ve written a few posts on how to start a creative meeting, and how to run one. But scheduling creative time does not guarantee good ideas.

Your lifestyle and approach have a huge effect on your creative ability.

And time away from the problem may be the key to a breakthrough.

Be open to new things

If your thought processes are rigid and inflexible, you risk rejecting ideas too quickly.

If Galileo saw the world as his parents, teachers and spiritual leaders taught him, he would never have championed heliocentrism, moving us towards a better (not correct, better) understanding of the universe.

The same goes for most scientific breakthroughs. These academics were able to immerse themself in the problem, paying very little attention to how everyone was telling them the world works.

“One prerequisite for originality is… that a person shall not be inclined to impose his preconceptions on the fact as he sees it.

Rather, he must be able to learn something new, even if this means that the ideas and notions that are comfortable or dear… may be overturned.”

– David Bohm.

To come up with new ideas, remain open to new things and ways to look at the world.

“Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn’t try it on. ” – Billy Connolly

Keep your brain healthy

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to build new connections and repair itself.

If we maintain good levels of neuroplasticity throughout life, our brains can adapt to new environments, come up with new stuff, and thrive in difficult circumstances.

Maintain plasticity by looking after your brain:

Creativity is connecting – fill your brain with good stuff

“Creative people are better at recognising relationships, making associations and connections, seeing things in an original way – seeing things that others cannot see.” – Nancy C. Andreasen

Advertising genius James Webb agrees in his brilliant book on how to come up with new ideas:

“An idea is nothing more or less than a new combination of old elements.” – James Webb

Neuroscientist Nancy C. Andreasen interviewed a bunch of highly creative people (her subjects included George Lucas and Kurt Vonnegut – how?!)

She noted, “I’ve been struck by how many of these people refer to their most creative ideas as ‘obvious.'”

Steve Jobs agrees:

When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.

It seemed obvious to them after a while.

– Steve Jobs

It seemed obvious because they were able to connect experiences.

Jobs went on to say that a lot of people don’t have ‘enough dots to connect’ so they end up with linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem.

How can we give ourselves more dots to connect?

Activities such as travelling (ok, staycationing), learning a new language, visiting museums, talking to a diverse range of people and/or reading fiction can help provide a deeper ‘creative well’.

“Creation comes from an overflow, so you have to learn to intake, to imbibe, to nourish yourself and not be afraid of fullness.

The fullness is like a tidal wave which then carries you, sweeps you into experience and into writing.”

– Anais Nin

Better yet, involve other people from different backgrounds in your creative process, and see whether your combined experience creates sparks.

Choose carefully

Just as with food, you are what you eat. Writer Annie Dillard warns:

“The writer… is careful of what he reads, for that is what he will write.

He is careful of what he learns, because that is what he will know.”

– Annie Dillard

Incubate

Once the work on the problem is done, allow your brain to combine thoughts on the problem so far with the archive of everything you’ve ever experienced, while you take a well-earned break.

Einstein relaxed by playing the violin. Douglas Adams took baths, an idea he stole from Archimedes.

Joan Didion took an hour before dinner, with a drink, to go over what she’d written that day. She wrote, “Also, the drink helps. It removes me from the pages.”

I’ll have what Joan’s having.

Ideas might occur to you while you shower, nap, or go for a walk.

The brain is freed up from actively working on the problem, and combines elements of it with your experiences while you take pictures of trees and squirrels.

“What you do is to take the different bits of material which you have gathered and feel them all over, as it were, with the tentacles of the mind.

You take one fact, turn it this way and that, look at it in different lights, and feel for the meaning of it. You bring the two facts together and see how they fit.

What you are seeking now is the relationship, a synthesis where everything will come together in a neat combination, like a jig-saw puzzle.”

– James Webb

So remain open, keep your brain healthy and full of good stuff, do the work, then give your brain a rest to work on the problem for you.

I’d love to hear how you come up with new ideas. Drop me a comment and let me know.

The Mouse Man Cometh

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In an uncertain world, the few things we can be sure of are a comfort.

London housing will always be riddled with vermin, the pubs will charge a morning’s wages for a main and August in the city is an oven.

I remember now why I try to escape to Edinburgh for the month. I tell people it’s because I’ve written a comedy show, but really it’s because I enjoy rain more than I care to admit.

I split up with my partner earlier this year and moved into a small flat round the corner. Because this is London, there are mice.

After a week attempting to deal with the situation myself, I got professional help.

The mouse man arrived, looking confident. His teeth were too white.

“These your bait boxes?” he asked, incredulous.

“Yeah, I got them off the internet. They don’t work.”

“Course they don’t,” he sniffed, looking like my hairdresser as I walked in post-lockdown. “They won’t eat that stuff.”

He slung a gym bag to the floor full of plumbers’ syringes. “What you want,” he explained, triumphantly holding up an old tub of peanut butter, “Is this.”

Finely honed patter is part of the gig for this guy.

He explained that the contents of the peanut butter tub are illegal in 47 countries (I’m not surprised, it’s bright blue and looks like it could take out a moose.)

“They banned it here a couple of years ago,” he said, “but I squirrelled away a few bottles. And that’s paid my mortgage, that has.”

He began enthusiastically loading neon peanut butter into a syringe.

When he said ‘a few bottles,’ I imagined a lock-up full of the stuff.

“Course, they won’t eat this in Wimbledon.”

I looked at him closely. (How can you trust a man who looks like a ’70’s disc jockey?) “How do you mean?”

“It’s a bit of the old Darwin, y’see love,” he explained. “The ones that don’t like it survive to breed. Eventually, none of the mice will eat it and we’ll have to find something else. And that always starts in Wimbledon.” I was baffled.

Are posh mice more discerning? Do they make podcasts for each other about what colour peanut butter to eat? Has this got something to do with the Wombles?

He iced some peanut butter into cardboard boxes with mouse-sized holes in the ends, then shook a tub of what looked like birdseed into his gloved hand.

“This, is canary seed,” he explained, hoofing the kickboard out from under the sink. “Now, I’m not allowed to put this down without a tray. But I’m very clumsy I am,” he chucked a handful under the sink. “Ooops, I’ve spilt some,” he turned to grin at me, radiantly.

It seems the mice of South Wimbledon won’t eat their dinner off a tray.

£47 later, he’s spilt some more behind the sofa, some in a cupboard the estate agent boldly described as ‘roomy’, and more in the bathroom. There are tiny boxes of peanut butter everywhere.

Turning to step out into the sweltering heat, he handed me his card. “You’re very nice but I hope I never see you again.”

And with that, he was gone.

Competence and confident humility

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Self-esteem can be slippery. One minute you have it, the next the bubble bursts and it’s gone.

5 years ago I took up stand up comedy, perhaps because my self-esteem needed a boost.

It’s been a rollercoaster.

A gig goes well, and I’m Leonardo DiCaprio on the front of the Titanic.

A gig goes badly, and I’m Leonardo DiCaprio in all his other films.

Seriously unhelpful if you’re doing two gigs a night, in that order.

Social media dictates that I should be posting pictures of myself doing well, on and off stage.

It’s a lot of energy to spend trying to prove I’m good at what I do. It feels fraudulent. I’m not doing that well all the time.

This isn’t what comedians get into comedy for. Comedians get into comedy for external validation. And if they’re good, they get it.

Sometimes.

The self-posting feels narcissistic, and without real ability and achievement, maybe it is.

Narcissism comes not out of self-love but out of self-hatred. – Audre Lorde

Competence

Stand up comedy aside, there are better ways to build lasting self-esteem than to post about ourselves on social media.

For example, the right kind of positive affirmations* and developing competencies that prove ability and achievement.

*Positive affirmations can make you feel worse when self-esteem is already a battle. “I will succeed!” doesn’t feel realistic. “I am bloody persistent and I’ll keep going until I succeed,” might just work.

If you run, enter races with beautiful medals, or record your runs online.

If you’re a comedian, write a joke you’re proud of. Practice it in front of audiences ’til it’s 80% perfect, then write some more and build it into a set. Then build the set into a show.

A lot can get in the way of these kinds of goals. Injury, coronavirus, not feeling very funny during a global pandemic…

But working towards goals is better for self-esteem than trying to prove ourselves on social media.

So where are we trying to get to as we build lasting self-esteem?

Confident humility

Aristotle’s golden mean says we want a level of confidence that falls between fearful and arrogant.

And for that we need to temper our confidence with humility.

There’s a lovely post about this here.

The moment you think you’ve got it all figured out, your progress stops. – Ralph Marston 

The first step towards confident humility is to be able to accurately assess our level of competence.

In the West, we tend to assume we’re better than average. This can lead to an over-inflated level of confidence in our abilities.

But really think about it. How good are you at what you do, really.

What more is there to learn?

If we can keep hold of something the Zen Buddhists called ‘beginner’s mind’, no matter how good we get, we can be confident without straying into hubris.

My plan for the rest of this odd year and beyond is to develop competencies. To keep track of my levels of ability and achievement and to keep learning.

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. – C.S. Lewis

 

Coming up with creative ideas

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Photo by Amélie Mourichon on Unsplash

A successful creative meeting:

Ideas flow freely. Coffee, biscuits and emergent laughter.

Everyone is contributing.

How familiar does this feel?

Creative meetings can be great for the confident and extroverted.

But I’ve definitely been in ‘creative’ meetings where I’ve been the least experienced in the room.

There is ‘banter’ – people are laughing at one another, putting down ideas they don’t like, vying for status.

What do we want out of a creative meeting? LOTS of ideas.

‘Lots’ means good ideas + bad + terrible ideas.

And if this is the ‘creative’ atmosphere, what you get are the ideas of the socially high status people, and nothing from anyone else.

So how can we run successful creative meetings?

The rules must be clear: we want all the ideas. That old cliche, ‘There are no bad ideas,’ is obviously wrong, but that needs to be the vibe at the meeting.

It’s important to encourage everyone to contribute in order to capture everything and keep the ideas coming until we have exhausted every avenue.

Under no circumstances must any idea be assessed, judged or analysed at the ideas stage.

If in doubt, use the rules of improv with your team: affirm and build. Add to other people’s ideas, rather than judging them.

The four animals in the room

There are, according to One Minute Millionaire, four types of animal that you can have in your team. Not only is this much more adorable than Myers-Briggs personality profiling, it is easier to understand, doesn’t require an online quiz, and can be summed up with an easy acronym, HOTS:

The hare – has lots of ideas, likes to hop from one to another and is more interested in generation than execution.

The owl – is wise and measured. Best placed with the hare to catch ideas. Good at seeing the bigger picture and working out how to take ideas forward. Team leaders are often owls.

The turtle – troubleshoots hare-brained schemes. Turtles like to turn ideas into plans, so that they can work out the problems and suggest solutions.

The squirrel – loves getting things done, happier with a list of tasks than in a creative session.

Work out which animals you have in your team. Encourage everyone to understand their spirit animal, and to embody it during the creative process.

Let the owls and the hares generate ideas. Encourage turtles to resist the urge to problem spot at this stage, or ask them along once generation is complete.

Some of your team might be less happy speaking up. Some people come up with ideas hours after the meeting. Allow ideas to come in late and/or submitted in private.

Give it a bit of time.

Once the ideas have been generated, it’s time to work out which ones to proceed with.

This is where the turtles come into their own. In a separate session, the owl invites the turtles to interrogate ideas. We send the hares for lunch at this point so that they don’t get upset.

The ideas the turtles like can now be given to the squirrels to execute.

If there’s just you in your team, you have hare, owl, turtle and squirrel within you.  You can use this model to plan your day.

If you’re generating creative ideas on your own, separate idea generation and analysis to ensure that you’re not talking yourself out of half the ideas at the generation stage.

This must be why writers like the Ernest Hemingway quote, “Write drunk, edit sober,” (despite there being no evidence he actually said it.)

How do you run your creative meetings?