My wife is in a small group that’s working through a book called "Vein of Gold." The main premise of the book, as I understand it, is to develop your creativity by actually doing something. Writing, drawing, making collages, whatever. Just begin and then begin again. Sounds familiar. The three links that follow have a common theme, I think…
- Occupational Adventure has a nice post about creative thinking and how to manage all the ideas that pop into your head.
- Moleskinerie (fun site!) has a post with links to a lot of writing tips. There’s even a pdf you can print and keep in your Moleskine.
- Here’s how to think like a genius.
Now, I know this isn’t a representative list of creativity management. But I also know that there’s a common theme that runs through all sorts of creative endeavors: Write it down. It is just ridiculously simple, yet most of us don’t do it. Or, we do it and then lose the list, or look at it in the light of day and decide it isn’t worth keeping, etc… Okay, so, I guess the common theme is a little expanded then: Write it down in a safe place. Free tip of the day: sticky notes aren’t a safe place.
So where do you write it down? You really only have two options: computer or paper. The truth is, I use both and I probably have a lot of overlap. I get ideas about how to manage the office, stuff I want to write about, things to do around the house, gifts to give to people, blah, blah, blah. Most of it goes in a text file on my computer, but if I’m out and about, it goes in my Moleskine or in my Palm. I like text files because they’re searchable. But I also like writing on paper because, frankly, I just like writing on paper with a nice pen (more about my nice pen problem later). So, don’t worry too much about where you write your stuff down, as long as you know where you’re writing it. Once you start writing your ideas down, you’ll also begin making connections between disparate concepts and that’ll spark even more ideas.
Creativity can be a lot of work, and like most things that are a lot of work, there’s a measure of discipline to it. Which seems weird, since discipline and creativity aren’t words you see linked very often. There’s an HBR article that discusses the "Weird Rules of Creativity." The article isn’t so much about managing individual creativity as it is about managing creativity within organizations, but there seem to be some parallels. The last paragraph is most telling:
If you want a
creative organization, inaction is the worst kind of failure-and the
only kind that deserves to be punished. Researcher Dean Keith Simonton
provides strong evidence from multiple studies that creativity results
from action. Renowned geniuses like Picasso, da Vinci, and physicist
Richard Feynman didn’t succeed at a higher rate than their peers. They
simply produced more, which meant that they had far more successes and failures
than their unheralded colleagues. In every occupation Simonton studied,
from composers, artists, and poets to inventors and scientists, the
story is the same: Creativity is a function of the quantity of work
produced. These findings mean that measuring whether people are doing
something-or nothing-is one of the ways to assess the performance of
people who do creative work. Companies should demote, transfer, and
even fire those who spend day after day talking about and planning what
they are going to do but never do anything.
I’m not sure about some of the ideas promoted in the article, but I am sure that it is right on track when it talks about the power of doing something. For me, as a manager, the doing is manifested by writing it down and keeping track of it.