Chris Griffiths, founder and CEO of OpenGenius, is a multi-time entrepreneur and bestselling author on creativity and innovative thinking skills. Here he talks about the five things he couldn’t get through his working day without
Space to think
Like most CEOs, my time is valuable; there is a lot of demand for me to be in many places at once. However, for me, it is absolutely paramount that I leave space in my calendar to think, reflect and daydream. Burnout has become something of a phenomenon in the workplace, and more and more people are downloading mindfulness apps to combat it. Each to their own, but I do wonder why we try to fight technology with technology.
The simplicity of blocking off time in your calendar when you can be completely free to think is essential to creativity and problem-solving. It’s when I go for a walk or just sit somewhere quiet that I am able to work through my most difficult problems. Henry Ford said “thinking is the hardest work there is” – and it’s definitely something we should be giving a lot more time to.
OpenGenius have been developing software for over a decade now, and previous to Ayoa we have had two successful software solutions, iMindMap and DropTask. I remain proud of both those tools, but Ayoa is the first app to crack a longstanding ambition of mine – to create something that genuinely changes the way I work. I couldn’t work without Ayoa now; it is woven into the fabric of my day. Offering more than task management, for prioritising tasks, Ayoa is also a creative tool that empowers me to do the right things. Creativity and productivity are intrinsically linked and when applied together they produce innovation.
I can easily switch between Task Boards and, at a glance, see the progress of all the different projects our various teams are working on; I can communicate easily with team members, individually and collectively, over direct message or group chat; and, essential for me, I have the ability to Mind Map with speed and proficiency. Best of all, everything is in one space, meaning no lengthy email threads or work split across multiple apps. All my best ideas, to-dos and projects are seamlessly managed in Ayoa.
The right mindset
In my most recent publication – The Creative Thinking Handbook – I talk about the importance of innovating with optimism. Some people might associate this with being airy-fairy or unrealistic, but that’s not the case at all.
Numerous studies show that optimistic leaders are more effective. Being positive also makes one more resilient to failure, and that’s really important in business. One of the best bits of advice I’ve ever received is that ‘winners fail more times than losers try’ – that ability to get back up and carry on after a mistake, with a lesson learned, is really what secures success in business.
Interactive touchscreen TV
I have a big screen in my office (and in all of our meeting rooms), because it is so valuable for collaboration and team-work. We can put Ayoa on the screen, Mind Map together on our laptops and watch the Mind Map update automatically in front of us. Or, we can display project tasks on a Task Board and sort through everybody’s priorities for the day. Having one big screen that everyone can see makes things easier, especially when not everybody has a laptop or device with them.
An effective company culture
There was a great piece in the Harvard Business Review recently about the difficulty of instilling a genuinely innovative company culture (https://tinyurl.com/yy5rp42p). The article looks beyond the surface-level stuff and makes the point that while installing a slide or redecorating your office has its place, the values you uphold are more important.
Teams and individuals working at OpenGenius know they can share their ideas, they know they can make mistakes and, most importantly, they know they must learn from those mistakes. Having this working culture keeps everything ticking over and makes teams agile and adaptable. Being part of that environment and maintaining it day in and day out is a must for me.
Chris Griffiths is the bestselling author of The Creative Thinking Handbook and founder of OpenGenius, the company behind the creative productivity software Ayoa. OpenGenius delivers bespoke and accredited training courses in Mind Mapping and Applied Innovation skills, as well as technology solutions to improve users’ creativity, productivity and leadership skills. Its courses and software have been used by more than one million people worldwide.