I was just reading this article by Daniel Goleman, of Emotional Intelligence fame, about extending your ‘Aha!’ moments. In a brief explanation of brain functioning, Goleman pin-points the region of the brain where these ‘moments’ occur – the same place responsible for interpretation of symbolic language – humour, metaphor, art and myth.

The most fascinating part of the article, from the perspective someone working in team building, especially for ‘problem solving’, are Goleman’s tips on the best way to mobilise this brain ability. First, he says, “concentrate intently on the goal or problem”, and then to get to the next stage, you just let go.” This is a state of “mental relaxation, … openness, of daydreaming and drifting, where we’re more receptive to new ideas. (This is also why ‘sleeping on it’ works!)

I had an “aha!” moment reading this, because it helps explain how cooking as a team activity helps not only enhance bonding, but when structured properly helps teams open up to their own “aha!” moments. While the physical activity of cooking provides physical stimulation, it also can give us time to daydream and relax; it also can bring down social barriers so interaction with others is more ‘play’ than ‘work’.

For example, in the Exceptionally Performing Teams workshops we do with rogenSi, participants are taken through a theoretical framework to explain the characteristics of EP Teams. This is followed by a half-day cooking experience that develops the physical metaphors for those characteristics. A final debrief helps cement those learnings, often leading to more “aha!” moments. It’s amazing to see how much more effective this combined process is than either session is alone.

So the next time your team is faced with a creative challenge, you can all take a nap together, or try a team building culinary experience.