The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.
Steve Jobs believed the best way to add value in the 21st Century was to connect creativity with technology. And it makes sense…
Technology helps a process move to the next level. We tend to think of technology in terms of software or hardware or advances in technology…but technology is application of science (and engineering) for practical purposes.
In Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs he states:
Apple developed not merely modest product advances based on focus groups but whole new devices and services that consumers did not yet know they needed.
One of my favorite lines relating to business that I have used with some of my clients is:
How do you expect to think differently if you read the same books everyone else is reading?
So here is the crux of this post today – great leaders connect right brain and left brain. Creativity and technology. Art and business. Dreaming and planning. Out of box thinking grounded in real life actions. People and data. My favorite management thinker, Peter Drucker, would wholeheartedly agree.
“If you had shown [companies] the iPhone 10 years ago and said, “This will be the future of how civilization works,” they would have said, “No, it won’t.” In fact, some companies looked at this space and elected not to pursue it.
This is because their innovation process doesn’t give their leadership a context for thinking about profound innovation. In a conventional company, an innovation process is often a substitution for creativity and thoughtfulness. Companies have come to us and asked for something like “disruptive innovation.” It is fashionable and they’ve read about it; they don’t know why they need it, but they hope it will help. However, they are seldom prepared to embrace what’s necessary to actually do this.”
Bran Ferren on the Art of Innovation interviewed by Art Kleiner in Strategy+Business magazine.
We all need “white space” in our lives. White space allows us to think, be creative, be strategic, focus on what counts, do something fun, laugh, cry or a combination of all these things.
I usually factor “white space” into a project because it provides you or the project manager the opportunity to pause, reflect and tailor actions before things go too far in the wrong direction.
White space is not only reflection. White space is planning, thinking, future looking, story building time that allows us as human beings to remember we are human. Check for mistakes, celebrate a success, write that thank you letter or start that side project you have always wanted to do.
Have you had an AH HA moment lately? You know, a light bulb moment, a moment of sudden inspiration, recognition or insight into a problem. Maybe it’s time to take a walk, read a book, start a conversation. Human beings are creators – let’s create great work, art, organizations and communities! AH HA.
“What is now proved was once only imagined.” – William Blake
Malcolm Gladwell (author of David and Goliath, Outliers, The Tipping Point) said in an interview a few years ago that our impressions of people are usually more positive than reality. If we hear a deep velvety voice on the radio we tend to associate it with a “deep velvety” persona – whatever our interpretation of that may be. Has it ever happened to you that you have met a radio personality in person and there is a mismatch with what you imagined?
We choose information to fill in the blanks.
In business, we also choose information to fill in the blanks and our bias sometimes gives us a polarized impression of what a marketplace or a customer is about. We can never have perfect data and certainly there is value in shipping “less than perfect” because awaiting perfection might mean we miss out on the opportunity altogether.
Quotes like these make me smile and nod my head in agreement:
If you see a bandwagon, it’s too late. – James Goldsmith
If you are not embarrassed by the 1st version of your product, you’ve launched too late.– Reid Hoffman
So as entrepreneurs and business people we have to fill in the blanks in order to get our product or service out there, to get it into the hands of customers in new markets and to guess how it’s being purchased, used and talked about. Consulting firms, like Hipona Consulting, can help you with business intelligence and connections in the marketplace but there still will be gaps that have to be filled with assumptions, associations and creativity.
Now the flipside…
The question that might be interesting to consider is this: looking from the customer viewpoint is it more valuable for your brand to have more reality based impressions (based on information) or fill-in –the- blanks-imagination based impressions?
I would argue that it needs to be a beautiful mix of the two. That a company provides enough information to create customers and yet leaves a little to the imagination…