I recently found myself in a hotel room with some time, some paper, some paint and a brush, a fatal combination. I started to play and here’s what happened at first.
Frankly – this is awful. It’s overcrowded, it’s a mess. There was a time, not so long ago when I would have thrown this in the bin, shut the paintbox lid and gone and done something else. Not this time. This time I thought a while and tried again.
Attempt number two. This time I get something quite different. This time, though the basic colours remain the same, water plays a much bigger part in flowing and diffusing the image. Is it any better? It hints at movement, dance, maybe something floral?
Attempt number three. This time the blue has gone, replaced with a red. I’ve tried to apply different quantities of water on the paper to create different depths of colour. I titled this image Roses In The Hospital, to me it somehow evokes life blood.
Attempt number four. I’m due to go out soon, and before I go I decide to have one more play. This version interested me as I tried to draw one colour into another. I called it Pressed, as it reminded me a little of pressed flowers.
I learned, and was reminded of a couple of important things as I moved through a journey that took around 50 minutes.
You can’t jump into creativity. It isn’t an app you just switch on. It isn’t PowerPoint, it isn’t Excel, it isn’t Word. Creativity is something you need to slide into. I gave myself enough time to experiment. How much is enough? I don’t know, and I do know it’s often more than we first think.
Mix and match. Subtle changes in direction can bring about marked differences. All through this experiment I used the same basic equipment, altering only the volume of water, and swapping one colour for another. I wasn’t looking for the next big thing, I was placing small, low risk bets and getting on with it.
Rob Jones wrote recently about creativity and implementation. In his post he says:
It is my belief that to successfully drive innovation within an organisation it is not creativity that needs to be addressed (walk around your business tomorrow and ask if anyone has any ideas – there’ll be loads) it’s how the organisation successfully considers those ideas, turns them into plans, funds them and executes them into sustainable change that is the challenge in being more innovative. In other words how does the system adapt to the change required that requires focus not the impetus for change.
I agree that often the impetus for change is not the challenge, and that businesses are often not good at considering ideas, sequencing and prioritising them, and acting on them. However from my experience, ideas are not as plentiful as Rob suggests, and they’re certainly not encouraged out into the open often enough. You can’t begin to consider, sequence, prioritise and act if you can’t first create the environment for ideas to seed, grow and develop.
As for that first awful picture I showed you – it did end up in the bin, where it belonged (though it was later rescued). The other three? We’ll see what happens with them later.
4 thoughts on “Creative Leadership – From There to Here”
The essential mechanism in the creative process you described in this 50 minutes session appears to be based around incremental changes, so that creative transformation is achieved by incremental tweaking of the volume and combination of materials involved in the process. This kind of incremental mix-and-match is a highly effective way of working within the constraints of those materials. You may not get the connection immediately but this reminded me of something that Malcolm Gladwell wrote about the innovative genius of Steve Jobs.
Jobs was not an original innovator; in fact, if anything, he was a tweaker. His genius derived from his ability to see how small, incremental changes to existing technology could be applied to create original products. Interestingly, aesthetic choice appeared to be an essentail element of that process for Jobs (maddeningly so, according to the testimony of designers who worked for him). You can read about Jobs’ innovative tweaking here in the New Yorker online edition http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/11/14/111114fa_fact_gladwell
Perhaps it might provide you with some inspiration for your own Creative Leadership service? Good luck with that!
Great stuff thanks Ian. I love how you and others take the time to read and feedback on here. Your point about incremental tweaking is spot on, I will add it to the mix. Thanks also for the article link, I will indeed take a look and see how it informs Creative Leadership.
Cheers – Doug