Blog 03/20 – Christoph von Oldershausen

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About our Blog 2021

After receiving very positive feedback on our blog contributions in the last years, we would like to continue this still young tradition of the Liechtenstein Academy Blog also this year.

Also in 2020, it is important for us to consider very different perspectives in order to offer you the most stimulating possible offer. This year, we have been able to attract six well-known guest authors, who, with no editorial filters, write about their personal thoughts. Look forward to new and surprising insights from Michael Bursik, complex issues, simply explained by Ulrich Schnabel, philosophical insights from Dr. Ina Schmidt, astute thoughts by our language and legal expert Carlos A. Gebauer, exciting topics around the many topics of working in the digital era by Sibylle Mäder as well as constructive considerations of our health expert Christoph von Oldershausen.

We wish you a stimulating read.

Your Liechtenstein Academy team

Creativity in the home office

I have been working with the slogan «Moving People from Knowing to Doing» for years now. For me, it is something like the holy grail of my professional life: I accompany people in moving from knowing to doing.

I now know a lot about what we can do to maintain and promote our health. And so I was somewhat taken aback when, late last summer, I realized through an internal step challenge how little I was moving on many home office days - despite knowing better. A change was needed.

I have since established some solid habits. For example, at the beginning of my workday, I think about which phone calls I can make outside while taking a walk. This walk does me good and makes me more productive. It's also a welcome change for my eyes, which enjoy fresh air and a view of the distance.

Nevertheless, for a long time I was still missing something, and I couldn't put my finger on it. It became clear to me when I was brooding over a problem a few weeks ago and couldn't quite make headway. I decided to go for a run and give my head a break. I started running, not thinking about anything in particular. After about 10 minutes I had found another approach to the problem, after 20 minutes I had sketched a solution, and when I arrived back home the solution was clearly in front of me. I immediately went to the desk and wrote down everything that went through my mind. Now I realized a few things.

Before I worked as much in the home office as I currently do, I often rode my bike to the office. 30 minutes there, 30 minutes back - an ideal amount of time to go over the day in my head, think back to an important conversation or simply let my thoughts wander. Often, the best solutions and most creative thoughts came to me on the bike, so that when I arrived at the office or at home, I first made a few notes for the next day.

I only realized how much I miss those 30 minutes on the bike in the last few days. By switching to a home office, I deprived myself of the time or my routine to let my mind wander or look at problems from a different angle. I had taken away the basis of my creative thinking. But how does it actually happen that the supposedly best thoughts come to you on your bike, in the shower, while hiking or cooking?

By switching to a home office, I deprived myself of the time or my routine to let my mind wander or look at problems from a different angle.

For creativity to emerge, we need to combine divergent and convergent thinking. Divergent thinking means to deal with a topic or problem in an open, unsystematic and experimental way (according to J.P. Guilford). To get into this state of thinking, it helps me to leave my usual environment, to move steadily and thus to let my thoughts wander. In order for unsystematic thoughts to become solutions, they must then be analyzed and brought together in what is called convergent thinking.

I experimented a bit and found my ideal home office strategy for creative problem solving:

  1. Deal with the problem or task and jot down initial thoughts and approaches.
  2. Do a routine task that doesn't challenge me.
  3. Go for a run.
  4. Summarize the thoughts in writing immediately afterwards.
  5. Do another task.
  6. Formulate the solution to the problem.

For all my home office fatigue, this is something I appreciate about the current situation: It's never been easier to incorporate a running session (or exercise in the fresh air) into my daily routine as part of the work process!

What do you do to give your thoughts free rein and get into divergent thinking? I'm eager to hear your ideas and suggestions.


Über den Author: Christoph von Oldershausen