According to Patrick Burgoyne it can – he’s just written a provocative post on the Creative Review blog, claiming that by sitting ‘hunched over their Macs, headphones on, plugged into their own private world’ designers are killing conversation in the studio – and when the conversation dies, so does creativity:
Design studios used to be full of banter â€“ work-related or otherwise. Now all you can hear is the tssk, tssk of a dozen headphones.
Sure, you can still hold meetings and discuss the work, but who ever had a great idea at a â€œbrainstormingâ€ session? Thereâ€™s something about the appearance of a flipchart that just sucks the life out of a room.
Great ideas come about either when you are busy doing something else â€“ walking, taking a shower â€“ or through talking to another human being.
If you’ve listened to any of the podcasts of my research interviews about managing creative teams, you won’t be surprised to hear I think he’s got a point. Every single manager, director, consultant and development professional I’ve interviewed has said that conversation and interpersonal interaction are essential to the creative process. One of the themes that has come out of the research for me is the idea of conversation as a creative meta-medium, where new connections and ideas emerge that would never have occurred to individuals working in isolation (or with their headphones on).
So should design studios ban iPods? That might be a bit extreme, but just as some companies have regular ‘no e-mail’ days, maybe there’s a case for ‘no-iPod’ days, or a return to the communal office sound system.
What could be better for fuelling the creative tension on a Monday morning than a good old-fashioned squabble over who gets to put their tunes on the stereo?