The funny thing about innovation: an interview with Tim Reid, Writer, Car Share

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Tim Reid, comedy writer of Car Share, recently spoke at the Charity Learning Consortium conference. When it comes to comedy, he says, there's a serious point, as laughter can unlock creativity and lead to big, bold ideas.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRZone: People want to believe they are innovative. But where do organisations and individuals go wrong?

Tim Reid, Writer, Car Share: One of the big barriers to being truly innovative is failing to create a safe time and space to unleash the imagination, whether that's individual or a collective imagination. It's so important to make the time for exploring new possibilities without the pressure of having to be 'right'.

What I mean by that is we too often squeeze an hour here or 90 minutes there for a quick brainstorm and we huddle over a big challenge and race to find the right idea. But that's not how real innovation happens. If we really want to think differently we have to think and act differently, and let our minds wander and wonder and conjure up a wall full of ideas, with permission to be wrong.

Be expansive, before getting serious and working out which ideas will best fit the bill.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRZone: Did writing Car Share - the process from conception to production - teach you anything that would be relevant in the workplace?

Tim Reid, Writer, Car Share: Without a doubt. Like with so many big innovation projects, making a sitcom is a long, precarious process where coming up with the idea is the fun, beginning bit. But the real work, making it happen, can seem like a long battle with all sorts of unanticipated barriers along the way.

So I learned how to stay determined, stay passionate, be resilient and patient, and I learned that it's vital to remain as creatively engaged in the project from beginning to end. I also learned the value of keeping a talented team aligned around the same mission.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRZone: More generally, how does comedy help your corporate work?

Tim Reid, Writer, Car Share: The links between comedy and more corporate innovation becomes more obvious to me every day. I've seen time and time again that laughter is very often the key to unlocking a team's creativity and getting the ideas flowing.

That's because we laugh at the truth and we laugh at surprise - the two big ingredients of great ideas. Ideas should be born from a real insight, a truth about how the world is, and they should also surprise us by providing a fresh view of the world.

So when we start laughing in a brainstorm, nine times out of 10 that means we're on the verge of a big idea. So understanding comedy, what makes us laugh, can be the key to unlocking both creative energy and big, bold ideas.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRZone: What creative techniques for idea generation or problem solving do you use in your writing work that is relevant to organisations?

Tim Reid, Writer, Car Share: I use the same idea generation tools and techniques in my writing work that I share when I train in organisations. So I really do practice what I preach, as well as preaching what I practice.

And those techniques include:

  • using different environments for different kinds of problem solving;
  • using lots of stimulus exercises to find new sparks for ideas;
  • using a range of different re-expression exercises to explore different ways of saying things to see what works best;
  • bouncing ideas off different people to get new and different perspectives;
  • taking time out to let ideas simmer and percolate in my subconscious and being ready for new thoughts to surface;
  • testing ideas out on new audiences and being prepared to adapt, evolve or even start again if something's not working

There is no doubt that the creative techniques, tools and behaviours I use in my writing and training sessions are interchangeable. 

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRZone: What tips do you have for individuals by themselves to be more creative, without any form of collaboration?

Tim Reid, Writer, Car Share: Fill your world full of fresh stuff. That's it. If you want to ‘up’ your own creativity the single most effective thing you can do is to do more new stuff.

Break your habits. Read a different newspaper, listen to a different radio station, speak to different people, go and see a show you wouldn't usually consider sitting through.

Surprise yourself by doing things differently. That's the best route to thinking differently.

Tim Reid is a multi-award-winning comedy writer, best known for co-creating and co-writing Car Share. He speaks at events like the recent Charity Learning Consortium Conference and is also an innovation consultant. He’s worked for some of the world’s most creative organisations, including global advertising agencies, innovation consultancies and the BBC. He’s helped clients from beer brands to broadcasters, confectioners to condom makers reimagine the future and re-invent their businesses. Find out more at http://timreid.co/ or follow him on Twitter at @timreid69.

About Tim Reid

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