Don’t these people look happy?  Wouldn’t you like to work in an environment as loose and comfortable as this?  Do you think Google has trouble attracting and keeping top talent?  Do you think Google’s employees go home each night wondering how they will find the energy to go back the next day?

I’ll be honest, there are things in that video that turn me off and I am glad I don’t work for Google.  However, it does illustrate what Pamela Meyer calls “Generative Space.”  Below is her description of generative space.

A space is generative when those who engage in it are actively generating ideas and possibilities.  Generative space is also life giving; it gives life to both the participants and their ideas.  You have experienced generative space when you leave a meeting more excited about what is possible than when you arrived; you have experienced generative space if you find yourself settling back into your body with optimism, even in the midst of chaotic times; you have experienced generative space when you rediscover your sense of humor while exploring alternative perspectives; and you have experienced generative space when you become energized through your participation. (emphasis mine)

How do you create and support generative space?  Below are her tips to three different types of players in the workplace.

Leaders, be a secretary of energy. Poor morale, sagging motivation, and cynicism are all indicators of a lack of energy.  Leaders must be aware of these warning signs.  More warning signs include low participation in meetings, defensiveness, and information hoarding.  One way to stay in touch with the mood of your team is to solicit informal feedback.  Asking open-ended questions about how things are going will show your team that you are concerned about their well-being.

Another way Dr. Meyer recommends to motivate your team is to match people with their projects that match their passion.  Research indicates that people who have a personal interest in their work will be generate more creative ideas and be more resilient in their work.

Her advice to facilitators is to focus on the positive.  Appreciate people and their contributions.  Respectfully approach team members who are having a negative impact on the team’s energy.  Listen to people’s contributions.  When a person feels their ideas are being heard, it is energy generating.  Ideas that are not heard and responded to create robs energy from the team.

She also recommends starting meetings with a challenge to get people’s activated.  Its not unusual for me to come to a meeting with a lot on my mind.  It takes  a while for me to reset my thinking.  Below are some links she provides to help get meetings off the right way.

Five Ways to Make Space for People to Play with New Ideas and Perspectives

Encyclopedia of Improvisation Games (warm-ups and icebreakers)

Participants are encouraged to be generous with their ideas. There is nothing worse than holding a meeting where nobody contributes.  Dr. Meyer advises participants to be fearless when sharing ideas.  Don’t wait for the participant to ask for ideas.  Come ready to contribute.  When others bring ideas, compliment them.  A “positive response to others’ contributions expands the generative space and increases the likelihood it will be sustained.”

Generative space does not have to be all fun and games.  However, it benefits from positive energy.  Seek out and support energy sources on your team.  Make an investment in the positive.  Share generously.  We would all do well if we took this advice and put it into practice.