Coffee Shop Creatives

Your future prosperity is dependent on you being more innovative and creative – fact. So are you really going to try and think creatively just sat at your desk?

With regular interruptions from clients, suppliers, colleagues, friends and family with those addictive “I must look right now” pings of email, phone, text and social media; what chance do you really have to think deeply and creatively.

I used to work for someone, many years ago now, that used to say to me “stop thinking and get on with some proper work”. He thought I was a dreamer; he was possibly right about that.


My point however is a serious one. We really do need to become more innovative, as the global market in which we operate is so unpredictable and changing fast. We need to be more agile, more adaptable, more flexible, more …, more …, more …. – get the point.

However, and worryingly, most people don’t even want to make the time to think let alone find the right environment in which to think creatively. Squeezing in a bit of thinking between some “proper work” isn’t enough. And thinking anywhere that’s available isn’t good enough either. ‘Just anywhere’ actually makes the creative thinking process harder than it needs to be, and often leads to compromise with “that’ll have to do, we don’t have time.

Henry Ford once said “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is why so few engage in it”. He was right.

Now I will talk about “making time” for innovation in another blog, because it is a serious investment in your future. Before going into what environment helps me think creatively, what do I mean by creative thinking.

I am talking about conceptual thinking and to illustrate: if I asked someone to design a logo for my business, I would expect a ‘conceptual thinker (designer)’ to work through “many” possible and different directions, thinking laterally to tackle the fundamental branding challenge. A ‘development designer’ however would come up with a couple of concepts, then select their preferred idea and start applying it to a website, brochure, signage, etc, etc – see the difference?

Development thinkers (designers) can work effectively sat at a desk, because they need the technology, contacts, tools, etc to do their job. However a ‘conceptual thinker’ can potentially work anywhere.

Work on the move

For me to think creatively (conceptually) about business I need to get away from the office, the desk, and any noise that might disturb me – and the technology. So I head for the coffee shop, with phone turned off.

Apart from saying “hi” to the barista, I don’t need to talk unless I want to. She remembers what I drink. I sink into an armchair and read if I want and with a plain paper note pad and pen, my mind wanders and pen doodles. I avoid structured thought on purpose as out of random, erratic thoughts some good ideas may emerge. Don’t spend the time thinking about structure, you can do that at your desk later.

Yes there is noise and music in the coffee shop, I don’t care about that, because it has nothing to do with me. I can drift off and let my mind go free. This environment with different shapes, sounds, movement and colour often proves a stimulus to a new direction of thought.

By the time I leave the coffee shop, I will sometimes have had an “ideas drought”, pointless you may think, but on the way back to the office, walking the dogs the next morning or even a few days later a thought will jump into my mind from my productive sub conscious, and I will have made a connection with something. Eureka!

Coffee shops work for me, they may work for you. The point is to encourage you to find a place that enables you to think more creatively, I suspect it won’t be sat at your desk.

I would be interested in the places that work for you, and why.

Thanks for reading.



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