By Andrew Lowcock
In today’s society there are more sources of news, entertainment and information than ever before, available at any time, to keep us informed, engaged and stimulated.
Many would argue this is leading to better decision making and efficient business, but one writer argues we need more boredom in our lives to help reinvigorate the global economy.
American author Scott Adams, best known as the creator of the Dilbert comic strip which appears in newspapers worldwide, wrote in the Wall Street Journal on the weekend that a lack of boredom is stifling creativity in many aspects of life, including the board room.
Adams believes that with the rise of smartphones, music players, iPads, e-books and other easy to use information sources, people no longer put away time to be bored, experiment and come up with new ideas.
“If I’m watching TV, I can fast-forward through commercials. If I’m standing in line at the store, I can check email or play ‘Angry Birds’. When I run on the treadmill, I listen to my iPod while reading the closed captions on the TV. I’ve eliminated boredom from my life,” he writes.
“Now let’s suppose that the people who are leaders and innovators around the world are experiencing a similar lack of boredom. I think it’s fair to say they are. What change would you expect to see in a world that has declining levels of boredom and therefore declining creativity?”
Adams argues that this has led to an increasing number of movie sequels, the rise of reality television, a dumbing down of top fiction titles and even the flat-lining American economy due to “lack of industry-changing innovation”.
While Adams’ piece contains more than a hint of misty-eyed nostalgia for the ‘good old days’, there are many prescient points, as he credits the boredom of his childhood in small town America and his corporate career (where “every meeting felt like a play date with coma patients”) as the inspiration for his own creations.
“None of us ever switch off, log off or spend down time anymore,” Bell said recently at an event in Sydney. She proposes we all spend some time to “hang up and log off” and carve out some time in their routine to not check their technology, in order to find some boredom, either alone or with colleagues.
Perhaps it might not be information, but boredom, that is the spark for your next great idea.
Do you agree with Scott Adams and Genevieve Bell that we should devote more time to being bored? Does your business make time for boredom? We’d love to hear your views on this interesting topic.