01 August 2008

Blogging the Bridge Conference: Breaking Out of Your Creative Comfort Zone

Jon Duschinsky is an even more energetic (manic?) presenter than I am (and those of you who've seen me present know that that's saying something). Considering the fact that he had a room full of sleepy, possibly caffeine-deficient people first thing on a Friday morning, that was probably a good thing.

He started from the position that we train our brains to see things a certain way. That's why you can recognize the thing at your desk, the thing in a restaurant, the thing in your living room, and the thing in the airport all as chairs, even though they look pretty radically different from each other, and you know what to do: sit.

The key to unlocking creativity is helping our brains break at least some of those patterns. As Picasso said, "All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."

Education, as Sir Ken Robinson points out, beats fear of failure into and creativity out of us. But if we can learn to think about intelligent failure, we can focus on the winnowing of ideas that leads us to the right place, rather than the intermediate steps that didn't necessarily work.

"Failure's scary!" "My board doesn't want to take risks!" "What if we LOSE MONEY doing this?" Associations and other nonprofits that are organized around a cause have to hold ourselves to a different standard: our missions aren't just to make money. If we're not accomplishing our missions, we can't just say: "Oh well, shareholder profits will be down this quarter." What percentage of your mission are you fulfilling? Given that, how long will it take to get to 100%? Are you OK with that? If the answer is no, and for most nonprofits it should be, what are you going to do about it?

So how do you break out? Duschinsky provided some pretty basic concepts:
  1. Ask questions
  2. Stand out
  3. Change the way you look at things
  4. Focus on the non-verbal aspects
  5. Be bold
None of this is particularly earth shattering. What was earth shattering was the examples he provided.

Feeling inspired yet?

A few parting ideas:

Try something you KNOW will fail (you already had the great idea and didn't try it because "It will NEVER work")

What's the difference between "sexy" organizations and "dusty" organizations?


So how do you get it?

Stop analyzing and being so serious. Roll with change. It's coming whether or not you're ready. You can't be all things to all people, so know what you DON'T want to be just as clearly as knowing what you DO want to be.

"Be bold and mighty powers will come to your aid."
-- Basil King

No comments: