Need to Stimulate Creativity and Innovation – Try Finger Painting – Crazy? Not really
5th May 2010
... Comments

“…What we’re then doing is engaging the left hand side, the logical side of the brain to explain what the right hand side has done. That’s where the magic starts to leap out.”

Can you remember back to your infant school? The joy of being allowed to use the finger paints! Or perhaps finger painting with your own children, well that was the excuse anyway. Daubing the colour, trying to keep the “one finger one colour rule”.

Well what has that got to do with business you may ask?

Finger painting is great way to get the creative juices flowing. Just what you need if you want to find a novel and useful idea to feed into your innovation process. After all, how innovative are innovation processes that only deliver more of the “same-old, same-old”.

Finger Painting as a Problem Solving Tool

Finger painting was introduced to HFL Sports Sciences by their CEO, David Hall. In an interview with Mike Waddell he explained how they use finger painting as part of their creative problem solving and innovation process.

“Finger painting is quite an interesting technique because it taps into the creative half of the brain, if you will, which is the right hand side of the brain. In business we typically bring the left hand side of the brain to work and leave the right hand side of the brain to our private lives.

The creative, the artistic side of the brain is the right hand side. It’s impossible to complete a finger painting without engaging the right hand side of the brain, so you get an insight into that emotional, artful state. We then ask people, to hold the painting up and explain it to the rest of the group. What we’re then doing is engaging the left hand side, the logical side of the brain to explain what the right hand side has done. That’s where the magic starts to leap out.

It is entirely possible and indeed commonly the case, that the right hand side and the left hand side of the brain do not communicate with each other. It’s kind of been proven from a medical perspective that there’s no reason why those two need to communicate; we can function perfectly OK without it. But magical things happen when the two sides of the brain start to come together.

Finger painting therefore, starts to release that energy and we frequently find that it is the case that people are surprised when they come to describe what they’ve painted. They get an insight into their own thinking behind a particular issue or problem. So finger painting is quite commonly used across the organization to really surface problems, to find a way of communicating how we feel about various problems.

Once we started using the technique we found that people would actually come to members of staff, to facilitators, to the Creativity Club asking to use finger painting as an outstanding mechanism for surfacing problems. So, it’s quite interesting to see how people can embrace some quite outrageous techniques”.

HFL’s Culture Change

David joined HFL as CEO in 2001 and began a culture change programme which included developing HFL as a creative and innovative organisation. They have called on the Creativity Club some 150 times in the last 8 years or so and had some startling results with challenges ranging from the mundane to the special. More than that, they now use creative thinking as a key differentiator against the competition.

Read More about the Creative and Innovative Culture at HFL

If you want to read more about David’s experiences of “Establishing a Culture of Innovation” The Creative Leader Bulletin is currently running a series based on the interview with David Hall. You can also access the podcast of the interview here.

The Creative Leader Bulletin is a free of charge resource that addresses issues of importance to leaders who desire to achieve excellence and establish a creative and innovative environment. You can subscribe here.

Popular Categories