Biomedical Engineering Reference
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blank page. It is supposed to convey the concept of a room in which anything is possible; you
are starting with a “clean sheet.” Some design agencies have the space, and the money, to
build an actual white room in their office block - not all of us are so lucky. However we can
use the concepts of the white room (or white room rules) everywhere:
People “entering the white room” are equal - there is no hierarchy and everyone's point
of view, idea, or comment is as valuable as another's irrespective of their actual position
in the company or in life.
All ideas are valid - no idea is destroyed, pooh-poohed, or thrown out. All are kept and
analyzed later.
Open discussion is promoted - free speech is an absolute must and no one is allowed to
speak over any one else.
The “white room” is a space free of “clutter” - no posters, no distractions.
If you apply these basic rules you can have a white room in your own house, in your attic,
even in the local bar. Irrespective of whether you use a white room or not, the four bullet
points above should be adhered to in all group-based activities. In Cracking Creativity ,
Michalko (2001) points to research that states that the great minds of Einstein, Bohr,
Heisenberg, and Pauli were able (even with their accumulated egos) to share and discuss
ideas openly, freely, and informally because “their discussions were open, free, and
So in essence the white room is a space in which to develop and capture concepts and
ideas from a group of people. Most authors suggest that the groups should be about
five or six people, but I have done sessions with as little as three and as many as 10; 50
would be silly!
6.3.2 Personal Space
This is where you may fall out with your boss (if you have one). I always find it weird that
in many companies the CEO will have designed their own office, picked their own furniture,
selected their own pictures, and even decorated the office to their taste, while the employees
have a predetermined sterile layout. If you are to be creative you need to feel comfortable,
that is why lots of ideas come, for example, when you relax in a bath. Some of you may
be quite happy sitting at a desk, but this does not get the creative juices flowing. Everyone
needs some creative space. My office at university, for example, has an old leather recliner
chair, a real stereo hi-fi with proper amplifier and speakers, and low lighting. When I need
to think, the lights go low, I sit in the recliner, and I put on some nice music and relax - you
will be amazed how this simple routine works. On my wall I have a small poster of Audrey
Hepburn, and when I get stuck I just turn around and look at her and ask, “Come on Audrey
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