Connection Corridors: Creating a Habitat Where Ideas Flourish

Connection Corridors: Creating a Habitat Where Ideas Flourish

Ecologists are using landscape “connection corridors” to encourage endangered species to spread out, reclaim habitat and recover. Not only does connecting spaces where species are struggling help endangered species, it also builds and strengthens entire habitats. All species thrive when we improve the path to biodiversity. And the improved diversity appears to increase annually; scientists in one 18-year study don’t know if that will stop. It hasn’t so far. 

The science of landscape corridors is also being applied to buffer zones along waterways to reduce pollution; to prairie corridors near crop zones to encourage pollinators; and even to urban greenways to improve the standard of living in cities.

One scientist dubbed landscape corridors “superhighways for plants and animals.”

Now, imagine such a superhighway for ideas.

Serendipitous Friction

The ability to “think different” is core to modern ad agencies’ calling. While we have long celebrated both the notions of solo creative people developing great ideas, and creative teams brainstorming innovative solutions, neither of these happen in a complete vacuum. We spend much of our workdays—and out-of-office hours—brushing up against other people, visual influences, social observations, popular culture and outside interests. We read, explore and gather impressions constantly. All of that exploration and observation fuels us as we work to develop insights to help our clients.  

Like MIT’s Building 20 concept, agencies can create spaces where a diversity of ideas can flourish. “Knowledge spillover” happens where people have the opportunity to meet by chance others in related, or unrelated fields. Chance encounters spur new thinking, rethinking, and sudden insights that can lead to better creative concepts. Chance conversations can start a new train of thought that entangles with a book you read last evening, the phrase from a hit song playing in your ear pods as you biked to work, or that two pages of research the account planner dropped on your desk an hour ago. Connections spur more trains of thought and soon you have several concepts you can develop and explore.

As you think about your workspace, consider how you can create “connection corridors” that let people bump up against different influences and ways of seeing. Encourage mingling of people and you’ll begin to see ideas mingle. Also consider regularly changing up the art on your walls, the music your sound system plays, even the environment in which you meet—an afternoon spent out of the office discussing a project can lead to changes in thinking, too.

Allow for unexpected interactions around each corner, and your people will give you new approaches to client problems, new thinking instead of the same old safe ideas you’ve done in the past.

Connection corridors can help new ideas, and your agency’s creative environment, thrive


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