I’ve developed a new approach to finding new books to read. In one of my more progressive acts of parenting, I tend to take the boys to the local library once a week. Whilst there, I’m also looking out for something to pick up myself. No longer am I relying on Amazon recommendations – I’m now back to my tried and trusted “judging a book by it’s cover” approach. And it’s free.

At the moment, as a result, I’m reading Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg’s Inside the Box – a book about creative thinking that starts on the premise that all of that wide open canvasses, free-wheeling, every idea is a good idea stuff of ad land is a load of old tosh.

Whilst I’m not a believer in there being one perfect method to achieve any particular task, there are some really interesting techniques in the book that have sparked my creative mind.

One of these is the Subtraction Technique. They way it works? List out all of the core features of one of your products or services, and then reimagine it without one of them.

I tried this in passing with an acquaintance earlier this week who works for a company that provides technology and services to support people in care homes and the like. “What would your emergency alarm systems look like if you didn’t have a panic button?” I asked, to illustrate the idea.

“Ooh – you could do it through the television…” she immediately responded.

It’s an compelling technique.

Yesterday I was chatting with a chap who is facing a major office relocation, and looking at how that might provide the catalyst to introduce more flexible office provision. The challenges of moving to hotdesk environments are many and complex, but often start with questions like “how do we make our workforce more creative?” or “how do we provide office space more effectively?”.

It’s got me thinking – maybe starting with the question “What would office space look like if we didn’t provide an office?”, whilst in many ways totally counter-intuitive, might start some really creative approaches. If you could imagine provisioning services in such a way that there was absolutely no need for an office in it’s traditional form, then what could you then do with shared working spaces?

It might offer some interesting alternative designs to the common “provide most people with 4/5ths of a desk but some people get one permanently for business or political reasons that turns it all into a massive bunfight” approach that I’ve seen more than a few times in the past.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading more, and also to putting some it into practice.

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