AOM Press Releases

Forbes: Want To Be More Innovative At Work? Try Daydreaming

18 Aug 2020
Daydreaming about tricky problems can yield a creativity boost, say AMJ researchers.

Originally found at Forbes by Alison Escalante.

Is daydreaming at work a way of wasting time or an important tool to boost creativity? New research suggests the answer is both, depending on the characteristics of the person doing the daydreaming. When a daydreamer cares about the work they do, the activity can boost innovation and creative problem solving.

Nicole Lazzaro designed the first ever game for iPhone. She’s also a passionate believer in daydreaming. “I use daydreams to solve complex challenges,”she told me. Beyond her work as a game developer, she deliberately daydreams to manage data.

“Running my business I often take large data sets and ask my subconscious to consolidate them into a few words or an image that solves the problem,” Lazarro explains. “I find that I have to write in all caps so I can read what I wrote or draw [once] I'm fully awake.”

The technique helped her make a breakthrough she takes pride in: the Four Keys to Fun Model. She took a large data set of player facial emotion data and set out to daydream. “I close my eyes and work the problem out in my mind,” she says. “I created the model that maps out how player actions in games create the emotions players feel.”

The authors of a study on daydreaming in the workplace agree with her. The paper, published in The Academy Of Management Journal, “depicts daydreaming as a critical mechanism accounting for the connection between the type of work people do and the level of creativity they exhibit on the job,” wrote co-authors Markus Baer and Erik Dane, both of Washington University in Saint Louis, and Hector P. Madrid of Pontificia Universidad Católica.

Continue reading the original article at Forbes.

Read the original research in Academy of Management Journal.

Learn more about the AOM Scholars and explore their work:

  • Markus Baer, Olin Business School at Washington University in Saint Louis
  • Erik Dane, Olin Business School at Washington University in Saint Louis
  • Héctor Madrid, Pontificia Universidad Católica