Getting into the labs… and out of your comfort zone


“A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world” – John le Carré. 

Sometimes we hit the wall. It’s normal. Creativity doesn’t dance on command, and unless your last name is Edison or da Vinci, or maybe Branson or Musk, genuinely innovative ideas aren’t always easy to come by. That’s why it’s important to get in the habit of stretching yourself creatively by putting yourself in new situations that can spark the right connections. Unfortunately, the places where we spend most of our waking – or at least working – life aren’t always the most inspiring when it comes to kicking down the walls in our thought process. Enter C2 labs.

Labs are where we experiment

Where do you get your best ideas? At the office? Probably not. In the shower? Possibly. How about in a net suspended 18 feet above the ground?

Over the past six years, the C2 team has been researching and testing ways to take us outside our usual frame of reference in the belief that experimentation leads to a culture of innovation. We’ve been designing and fine-tuning experiences that encourage participants to think differently about a problem, shifting their mindset in a way that will help them find new solutions to their business challenges.

A core element of that experience are atypical brainstorming experiences called labs.

c2 workshop

Labs are about experiential learning

At C2 Melbourne, Oct. 17–19, you will participate in guided brainstorming experiences while put in unusual environments. Past labs have included a meditative garden tour, a pool filled with balls, building a model city with bricks, brainstorming with strangers while suspended over a net or in a thick fog, and even making a giant cake.

Why, you ask?

“Unexpected environments lead to unexpected ideas,” says Antoine Roy-Larouche, who leads the team in charge of labs and other collaborative experiences. “By putting their bodies in unusual situations, participants get out of their heads.”

Specifically, we believe the best learning happens:

  • when we step outside of our comfort zone
  • when we collaborate
  • when all senses are stimulated

c2 walk

Mixing content and context

C2 labs are, first and foremost, a learning experience. And a fun one at that. They’re a way for leaders and their teams to indulge in risk-taking, in exploration, with the freedom to try and fail.

Each lab experience is designed as a metaphor for a business challenge (risk, uncertainty, talent, etc.). Participants are inspired to generate creative ideas by playing and experimenting with the analogy, and then applying what they come up with to various real-world challenges.

“When designing a lab, we ask ourselves: How can we lead participants to step outside their usual ways of thinking and find answers that might not yet have occurred to them?” explains Joëlle Sarrailh, one of the core designers on Antoine’s team. “Then we set out to find the best metaphor. For example: pondering blind spots in business decision-making in a completely dark room.”

Building on these metaphors, which help participants “live” the content of the subjects at hand, the facilitator guides the conversation so that they connect with learnings on a deeper level.

If you want to get nerdy about it… 

There are two different kinds of labs

A) Direct brainstorming
Participants discuss a theme and subject while in the experience. The unexpected context provides outside stimuli for ideas.
Why? Because external stimulus triggers new ideas to form in your brain.

B) Indirect brainstorming
Participants discuss a theme and subject after the experience. The unexpected experience provides the stimuli for ideas.
Why? Because we learn through reflection on doing.

At the end of your experience, you’ll be invited to share your ideas with those others who have gone through the same experience and see the unique observations and reflections that resulted from this change in perspective. You might also leave inspired to try new brainstorming approaches to stimulate creative thinking in your own teams.

“In everything we do, we are guided by the idea of ‘Monday morning,’” adds Joëlle. “On that Monday morning return from C2 Melbourne, we want participants to be able to share, with their colleagues, both learnings and fresh ways of arriving at new ideas.”

How to participate

The labs run all day and they are first-come, first-served. To participate, drop in at the labs counter at C2 Melbourne and register for a specific time.

Until then, what will you be doing to get out of your comfort zone?