Sleep On It or Sleep On It Twice for Maximum Collaborative Results!

Posted on by Brandon Klein


So much information is thrown at participants in a session through activity, exercise, and interactions that it can be overwhelming and frustrating to try to real-time process and develop innovative solutions. Although we have become accustomed to functioning on little-to-no-sleep, there is an “incubation” stage to the innovative thought process that is necessary for the illumination and translation of a solution.



Build into the design an “incubation” phase. The ability to go and ‘sleep on it’ allows minds to work problems subconsciously and creates a different way for ‘aha’s’ to happen.

This could be as matter of fact as an end of day activity that is left unresolved purposely to carry over into the next day. We frequently give instructions at the end of the Focus day to not talk about the problems the company is facing over dinner. Put it out of mind. Then, when the participants retire for the evening, they are to put a pad of paper by the bed. Upon waking, they are to write down the first thing that comes to mind about the work that will have to be done and bring that paper with them. We have done this with quotes they can ponder as well.

A more subtle effect is to build reflection time into the day. This is not meant to be phone time or idle chat time that enables the participant to run from processing, but reflection, incubation, and process time. This is extremely important for introverts, for whom the ASE is Introvert Hell.

Part of why this works is paying attention to the natural rhythms of the human body. “Nurturing creativity and productivity means honoring natural cycles instead of flattening them with repetitive tasks and confining cubicles. It means more short breaks, more mid-day exercising. The workplace of the future may even see more napping. Dr. Goldberger, for his part, thinks leaders should seek richer, more biological measurements of their firms, such as tracking information flows and adaptability to change. They should maintain fractal structures that distribute information in all directions. They should avoid the kind of round-and-round dithering that depresses firms as well as people. In the corporate as well as the corporeal world, he notes, regimentation is a pathology.” (Tom Petzinger, The Wall Street Journal 4/30/99)