Creativity Lab

I created the Brussels Creativity Lab in beginning of 2020 because like any skill, creativity needs practice too. The monthly meetup is open to anyone interested in exploring new possibilities, questioning assumptions and discovering their creativity.

It is very important to establish a safe and supportive environment to foster learning in a collaborative way. To be able to encounter one another and learn from our varied expertise. Creativity thrives on diversity.

The first edition of the meetup (29.1.2020) was titled, “Seven Deadly Sins of Creativity” – through a series of collaborative activities we explored various barriers preventing us from connecting to our creativity and how might we overcome them. By moving beyond barriers of our creativity we enable unimaginable possibilities to emerge.

At the start of the session participants were invited to activate their explorer’s mindset:

  • to invite curiosity
  • to expect resistance and push forward
  • make connections
  • be flexible and open to possibilities
  • share stories of our understanding of the world

The Approach

Drawing inspiration from Logotherapy by Victor Frankl , participants were encouraged to approach all activities with “paradoxical intention” which is to demonstrate the opposite of what you are aiming to achieve.

So instead of trying to find a “way out” which typically suppresses a barrier, with a paradoxical intention approach, we exaggerate the barrier to a point of irony making it look seem ridiculous thus reducing it’s “power” over us. Using humour helps reverse our attitude towards it. Therefore resistance is reduced or disappears.

Activities

I created a deck of 39 cards with a single barrier on each card such as ego, fear of rejection, impatience, distraction, conformity, complacency, and over thinking, to name a few. Before each activity participants received a single card, then were invited to take part in a creative activity such as:

  • Generate 5 tips to promote the barrier
  • Create a personification of the barrier
  • In your group create a human sculpture representing the barrier
  • Create a unique dance move of your barrier. Everyone replicates the move

The meetup continues to nurture and grow creative behaviour within ourselves and with others. Join in the fun, tap into your creativity and meet some awesome folks. 

We are creative beings, our lives become our work of art
– Julia Cameron

Taking stock of team achievements

TAKE STOCK OF TEAM ACHIEVEMENTS

Duration 30-45 min
Number of persons 10-15 persons

Description
The best way to end the year on a high note is to take time with the team to reflect on the past year and to celebrate your achievements and progress. Taking stock helps build team confidence and brings some insights to take on the next step of the journey.

Goals
The goal of this fun activity is to share appreciation about the team achievements.

Materials and preparation

  • sticky-notes
  • thick coloured markers
  • ballpoint pens
  • A4 paper
  • A3 paper
  • coloured oil-pastels

Instructions

  1. Have the team seated in a circle with all the materials nearby.

  2. HIGHLIGHTS OF THE YEAR
    On sticky-notes invite everyone to write 1-3
    personal highlights from the year they will treasure. One highlight per sticky-note. They could write one word, a short phrase or doodle.  (3 minutes)
  3. Invite the team to go round one-by-one and share one or two personal highlights.
  4. Next, on sticky-notes invite everyone to write 1-3 team highlights from the year they will treasure. One highlight per sticky-note. They could write one word, a short phrase or doodle.  (3 minutes)
  5. Invite the team to go round one-by-one and share one or two team highlights.

  6. LEARNINGS
    Pass a sheet of A4 paper and pen to each team member and invite them to a free writing activity. Explain that free writing is a technique, when we say ‘Go’ you begin writing and continue uninterrupted until we say ‘Stop.’ The idea is to keep your pen moving the entire time. Spelling nor punctuation matters. Your entire writing piece might be one long sentence, or you might have all kinds of short phrases. No crossing out or rewriting. Just let the thoughts flow and captured them on your paper. Remind the team that the writing will stay private and that we will only share learnings later.
    Prompt #1: What did I learn about myself this past year? (3 minutes)
    Prompt #2: What did I learn about my team this past year? (3 minutes)
  7. When time is up ask them to read their writings silently and underline one or two learnings they would like to share with the team.
  8. Invite the team to go around the circle and share something they learned either about themselves or the team.

  9. GRATITUDE
    Invite everyone to get into a comfortable position and close their eyes. If they are not comfortable closing their eyes invite them to focus their gaze somewhere in the room. Ask them to take a couple of deep breathes. Reflecting on the past year, have them think about what they are most grateful for. What worked well for them? Who do they feel appreciative of for their contribution to their life? Picture this person or moment you are most grateful for. Stay with this moment.  Feel the gratitude as it fills up your chest. (long pause) Take a couple of deep breathes. Begin to stretch your fingers and your toes, stretch your arms and your legs, and when you are ready, open your eyes.
  10. Pass a sheet of A3 paper to everyone and ask them to grab a few oil-pastels and invite them to draw a picture that represents your gratitude. The picture can be literal—showing recognisable objects—or it can be abstract—just colours—or it can be a combination. It’s up to you. Use your imagination. This is not an arts test. Feel free to play some soft instrumental music in the background.
  11. Give them around 5 minutes to complete their drawing.
  12. Invite the team to go around the circle and share their picture and their gratitude story.

  13. LEAVING BEHIND
    Next, ask everyone, what would they like to say goodbye to? What have they outgrown? What would they like to gently bring to a close? Invite everyone to write some ideas down on sticky notes then share in the circle.

  14. TAKING WITH ME
    Then finally, what would they like to take with them into the new year? What is the one word that would be the guiding focus for their new year? Invite everyone to write their one word in a creative way on an A4 sheet of paper. Share in the circle. Celebrate these words by pinning them up on a board that is visible in the office.

Background
Inspired by the work of Kevin Eikenberry and Louise Thompson

Closing activity: Tree of Strengths

TREE OF STRENGTHS

Duration 10-15 min
Number of Persons 20+

Description
Before you kick off your end-of-day cocktail drink of your event, this simple closing activity helps participants meet others that they did not get a chance to interact with throughout the day.

Goal
To help participants to get to know each other at the beginning or ending of a session. To help participants identify their personal strengths.

Materials and preparation

  • A5 green colour card cut into “leaf-like” shapes
  • Thick multi-coloured markers
  • Large room with a large table in the centre

Instructions

  1. Have everyone stand in a circle.
  2. Pass around a leaf-like card to each participant.
  3. Invite everyone to grab a marker and write in bold letters on their leaf-like card the ONE THING people come to them for help.
  4. Once everyone has their word written on their card, ask them to hold it up to their chest.
  5. Instruct the group that they now have 3 minutes to get into groups of 3 – with people they have not interacted with throughout the day – and share how they practice their word.
  6. When time is up, invite them to create another group of 3 persons and share how they practice their word for another 3 minutes.
  7. When time is up, get everyone back into the circle and invite them, one-by-one, to call out the word on their card and place their card on the table in the middle of the room.
  8. Once everyone has placed their leaf-like cards on the table, close the session by pointing out that the tree represents the strengths of our community that shelters and nourishes us.

Background
I designed this activity as a closing session at an education hackathon organised by Ashoka Belgium – Education Innovation Programme “Education Shakers