Jenny Gottstein has a pretty imaginative, fun job. As director of The Go Game, a San Francisco-based company that designs customized, interactive teambuilding events and activities for corporations and organizations, she’s responsible for developing new game ideas, testing prototypes, facilitating new partnerships and collaborations, and leading The Go Game’s research and development operations.
We challenged Gottstein, along with three other experts (Nathan Schwagler of The Dali Museum, Sharon Fisher of Play With a Purpose, plus one more coming next week), to face off on the topic of creativity. Where does it come from? How can you channel it? How can you put it to work to improve your events, your association and the greater good? Gottstein weighs in.
What makes you imaginative?
I try to make time to have a healthy sense of “what if.” I give myself permission to waste time. It’s important to take little brain breaks where you can be curious and let your mind wander. That’s how some of the best ideas materialize, when either you or your team goes down a whimsical rabbit hole of sorts. When you’re not trying, that’s when solutions and ideas manifest themselves.
Is creativity broken in today’s world?
I don’t think it’s broken; I think we approach it the wrong way. I see a lot of companies approach creativity as something that has to be manufactured, but that’s impossible. You can’t build creativity. Take architecture, for example. If you ask: What makes a home warm? It’s elements like the sound of music on the stereo, the smell of bread coming out of the oven. Manufacturing those is not what architects do. Their job is to design a home, and if it’s designed well, those elements come naturally. We can approach creativity in the same way. Don’t try to build it yourself, but build a space where it can happen.
What is the biggest myth about creativity?
That all you need is a brilliant team—which is partially true, but the second part is having a team that feels comfortable riffing off each other. They have to enjoy being with each other and the process. If you get a group of people together for a game who don’t know each other, their work is probably going to be textbook solid, but it’s not going to be brilliant because they’re not in the zone.