Coffee, collective thought and creativity…
I’ll come right out now and let you know that I drink decaf. Before the die-hards get out their soap boxes, I should explain that I have to. The migraine every few weeks and my usual state of being ‘slightly’ on the hyper side, meant that cutting out the caffeine led to an alleviation of both symptoms. In reality though, all I’m ordering is a sweet, coffee flavoured warm milk…I’ve been questioned on the legitimacy of my order more than once.
But I still regularly ‘do coffee’ with colleagues, friends and vendors whenever the opportunity presents itself. It always seemed a good opportunity to catch up on the latest tech news, gossip and off-the-record updates on whatever we were working on at that point. The other thing that would happen during these sessions would be the ‘relaxing’ of the stress of the project/issue/enigma that we were struggling with and – in the same way that you find your keys the moment you stop looking for them – answers and solutions would often come to light. Or at least that’s what I thought the catalyst was…
It wasn’t until I stumbled across a reference to the question “Where do good ideas come from?” in one of my favourite blogs, that I realised there was another catalyst at play.
Watch this video on YouTube: WHERE GOOD IDEAS COME FROM by Steven Johnson
Bringing together people with a common cause in an environment that allows them to merge those ideas and build on the ‘slow hunch’ that one or more members of the team may have. It’s effective, it’s far more productive than trying to ‘nut it out’ yourself, and it’s a hell of a lot more enjoyable.
I recently completed a project with a friend of mine using both the ‘coffee house’ and the online collaboration tool google wave. It wasn’t the only online tool I’ve looked at since, thanks to Robin Good’s Online Collaboration tools map – over at mindmeister, but I keep coming back to it until I find something better.
Needless to say, the end result was far more grand, refined and generally crazy (in a good way) than either of us would have created alone.
Since the online tools we are using have some clear draw-backs- and there’s another big project in the works – I’m on the lookout for something that provides, online, the same atmosphere of fertile openness that the ‘casa-de-java’ has downstairs.
What have you used? Does anyone have any recommendations?