I recently visited Dubai to give a class on Innovation. I asked the hotel concierge for a recommendation of where to visit on a free morning. He listed all the main sights but I had already seen them. He then suggested something new, the Miracle Garden. It is a remarkable place in the Western outskirts of the city. Dubai is well known for its bold skyscrapers, ostentatious hotels, bustling business blocks, sumptuous shopping malls and sweeping desert. The Miracle Garden is a complete contrast – a quiet, salubrious place packed wall to wall with flowers. It is a riot of coloured blooms and glorious scents. It contains many unexpected and incongruous items covered with flowers e.g. an Emirates Airlines plane, two cars stacked one on the other or two houses leaning together. The jaded visitor is transported into a joyful mood.
It made me think that many a staid corporate culture would be improved by the addition of a similar stimulating place. Most offices are routine, predictable, dull places which encourage routine, predictable, dull thinking. Open spaces and conference rooms are all very well. They are like parks in the corporate city. But a Miracle Garden would be quite different. You can design your own space – indoors or out. It might include:
- Dramatic colours and bizarre decorations
- An assault on the senses – strange scents and unusual music (played softly)
- All sorts of odd items to displace and stimulate the visitor
- Examples of some of the company’s most innovative products – both successful and unsuccessful
- Something new and different every month
Your corporate Miracle Garden could be used by individuals who want somewhere for serious contemplation or by groups for a creative brainstorm meeting. Its users would be guaranteed a radically different environment. They would start with a fresh mindset. This should lead to more inventive ideas. Who knows, maybe the result could be a miracle innovation for the business!
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Paul Sloane writes, speaks and leads workshops on creativity, innovation, and leadership. He is the author of The Innovative Leader and editor of A Guide to Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing, published both published by Kogan-Page. Follow him @PaulSloane