Funding plays a huge role. Alan Kay believes that researchers should feel they have at least 5 years of exploratory freedom. By year 3 they will have created new fundamental technologies.
Find people you think are really special and give them the freedom to follow hunches, side projects, tangents.
In the space of freedom, existential crises may unfold. That’s normal. Have a good therapist on hand.
Demo regularly, and invite people you admire to the demos.
Have regular jam sessions where researchers and friends of the lab gather to work together.
Don’t surround yourself with people just like you. Break out of the industry lexicon so you can drop the assumptions behind the language. You need to think more broadly than that. Make diversity a priority.
Allow for natural waves of creative expansion and contraction. Build an intuition for riding these waves to maximize creative output.
Force yourself to design and display exhaustively detailed representations of the research in the physical space. If you really want to understand something, make a giant explanatory poster. Toby Schachman: “When you externalize a lot of the creative process, you can make leaps that you wouldn’t have.”
Foster an atmosphere of quiet deliberation balanced with regular playful chaos.
Go one—or several—levels beneath everyone else and start reinventing there.
Look for new applications for and combinations of old technology, eg. paper, laser pointers, cheap projectors, microcontrollers, magnets, clay, RFID or NFC tags.
Peter Schmidt: ”Don’t do the thing no one else thought of not doing.”
Buy yourself into the future. Pay a premium for advanced technology that could be used in the research.
Psychadelics may help open the mind to the nature of the research.
Encourage “craft table culture” where people can see what others are doing and join in easily, remix and reimagine the work.
You may wish to treat the lab like a biological containment facility.