“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

Albert Einstein

In his book, Focus: The Hidden Driver Of Excellence, author Daniel Goleman discusses the ‘Creative Cocoon.’

Goleman describes the ‘Creative Cocoon’ as the right environment for creative thinking. Innovative thought requires a combination of the right place and the right amount of time free of distractions.

The right place will be personal for everyone. Some people can block out distractions in their office. Others need to get away to a more conducive location.

What is universal for creative thought, however, is an environment free of distractions. It is hard (I might suggest impossible) to be creative and innovative when you are always responding to emails and text messages and other forms of interruptions. If we take this as accurate, the question then becomes, how do we create the right environment?

What is required is a measure of autonomy over how we allocate our time. Short-term, distraction-type tasks and activities need doing. That email is not going to send itself. If we have the freedom to choose when we do those tasks, and also the freedom to have quality reflection time, then we start to build the environment for creativity and innovation.

As leaders, we have two potential opportunities here:

  1. If we recognise that our people need to be creative to drive business outcomes, how can we best facilitate that environment? [1]
  2. How do we sell the need for autonomy and creativity to our own managers who might seek to control our time?

I will leave the final word on the matter (for now) to Goleman:

“Good days for insights had nothing to do with stunning breakthroughs or grand victories. The key turned out to having small wins – minor innovations and troubling problems solved – on concrete steps toward a larger goal. Creative insights flowed best when people had clear goals but also freedom in how they reached them. And, most crucial, they had protective time – enough to really think freely. A creative cocoon.”

Daniel Goleman, Focus, p. 46.

[1] For more on creating a motivation rich environment, see my thoughts here.