Boredom has been a long term enemy of the human condition and most of us greet it with contempt whenever it rears its head, but new research has led to suggestions that moments of spontaneous creativity could stem from moments of boredom. Many bosses will be doing their best to eradicate boredom from the work place and ensure that anybody wallowing in this activity is briskly snapped out of it, but all that could be set to change with the argument that there is a case for it to be encouraged.
In the tough economic times that the majority of businesses today are facing there is even more impetuous on making sure creativity thrives in the work place in order to encourage innovation and push the company forward. With this being the case we may see interesting new ways for businesses to nurture creativity.
Boredom Breeds Creativity In The Work Place
The experiment that has led to these new findings was conducted by two scientists from the University of Central Lancashire called Sandi Mann and Rebekah Cadman who were looking into occupational psychology. The study involved getting different groups of people to perform different menial tasks before asking them to take part in something more creative.
In the first test a control group went straight into the creative task which was describing as many different uses for polystyrene cups as possible, whilst another group carried out a task that involved copying numbers out of the phonebook before taking on the cups conundrum. The results showed that the latter group managed more answers on average in the second task thus displaying more creativity.
Spurred on by their interesting findings, Cadman and Mann then decided to up the ante (and the boredom levels). For this second experiment a third group of people were added whose first task involved just reading the phone book rather than copying from it in order to see if this passive activity would breed yet more creativity. The other two groups then did the same as those in the first experiment.
The results were even more interesting as the third group (just reading the phonebook and thus giving their mind more time to wonder) performed the best; suggesting that the more passive and boring the first task is the more creative the person is in during the second task. This phonebook reading task could be compared to general reading at work or even sitting through a meeting.
Following the results of these experiments further study is planned to discover whether these states of boredom at work directly lead to creativity in the work place or whether people go home and become more creative outside of work.
Similar studies have been carried out with children and many child psychologists believe that the technology that children have available to them in the 21st century has decreased the amount of boredom they experience and therefore halted the development of their creativity.
In a time where creative thinking for businesses is more important than ever we could soon see more working environments actively encouraging boredom and using it to their advantage. So next time you have a fleeting moment to let you mind wander, embrace boredom as your friend and if anyone tries to readjust your focus refer them to Cadman and Mann’s work and tell them to give it a try themselves.