When brainstorming on a new project, creative teams at Ovation Marketing, a La Crosse, Wis., advertising agency, would often gallop off in a wrong direction, then backtrack during more sober moments. To calm overactive imaginations, CEO Ralph Heath set up a second conference room decorated with $500 worth of pillows and walls painted a calming light blue.

"It slows everybody down so we think through alternatives and make decisions more carefully," explains Heath. "We wanted to create a separate environment for these special meetings." Post-brainstorm meetings are held in a traditional conference room with electronic equipment available for focused follow-through.

Heath hasn't measured how much efficiency has increased since redecorating, but he reports that the subdued atmosphere makes it easier for him to concentrate on coming up with new ideas instead of steering the conference.

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