When I was growing up nothing was funnier than the Monty Python TV show and movies starring John Cleese. Cleese just wrote a book, “Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide” about how anyone, whether a comedian or a corporate executive can tap into his or her creative gifts. He says that creativity is almost always unlearned and that the best way to kill creativity is to clutter our minds with schedules, deadlines and to do lists. One requirement is that we all need to play as we did as kids but to get there we must separate from ordinary life and just get started by tossing ideas around.

As an office developer, I was interested to see that he ventured into our arena with his assessment of office layouts and their impact on creativity. He writes that one of the great mistakes has been the open-plan office. He writes, “If I were starting a business – and this is a great time to invent the workplace – I would give everyone an office. It’s essential you’re not interrupted when you are working. And you must have lots of rooms for people to meet and play”.

Interestingly Cleese is a big fan of Albert Einstein because of Einstein’s unabashed commitment to “putting feet on the desk and thinking”, regardless of the situation. He comments, “Just because you don’t look busy doesn’t mean that you’re not doing anything worthwhile. If your boss is unimaginative, you’re sunk.”

Cleese’s ideas are particularly interesting as businesses across the country start to get back to the office given the soon to be fast arriving COVID vaccines. Although remote work will continue for some, at least on a part time basis, there is a significant pent up demand to get back to the office and to resume “normal life”. If Cleese had his way, businesses would build out more private offices to replace the open plans and most importantly would incorporate large social spaces for the purpose of social interaction and play!

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