There’s been quite a bit of talk lately in the innovation world about the importance of failure. In thinking about failure, I’m struck by the negative connotation. Though many of us consider failure a bad thing, sometimes there is an unintended consequence to failure. Namely, failure can lead to new thinking and innovation. I was reminded of the beauty of failure by my son.
There’s a lot of talk in the business world about the importance of testing and learning. When it comes to web site design, we typically create prototypes to help clients understand user flows, graphical elements, and user interactions. Many times, we take these prototypes out to end users to test and get feedback. This aspect of testing and learning helps to uncover opportunities, understand what is/isn’t working, confirm hypotheses, and find ways of improving outcomes. Though this example was couched in a business context, we all have the innate ability for testing and learning. In fact, testing and learning begins as infants.
Just as routine exercise improves overall health, routine creativity adds to a healthy lifestyle as well.
In some brainstorming sessions, the climate is calm with people thoughtfully building on each others ideas. In other brainstorming sessions, the climate is more competitive with people trying to outdo each others ideas. Over time I’ve realized the calm room is usually filled with people who brainstorm consistently, while the competitive room is usually filled with people who brainstorm sporadically. With this hypothesis, I began thinking about the parallels between exercise and creativity and how a sedentary lifestyle (either physically or creatively) can be bad for your health.
I grew up with music and am thankful for my musical household. Of course, with my family “growing up with music” didn’t mean coming from a musically talented family, but living above a disco lounge. In thinking about my childhood I remember my brother and I putting our ears to the floor late at night to hear the sounds of the 70’s. I also have fond memories of my uncle singing into a hairbrush, my first portable radio, and my first Walkman!
A memorable quote about the link between music and creativity comes from creativity facilitator, Bill Sturner, who said, “…music cuts through and gets you to glide with it.” And, if you think about it, music really does have a way of shifting our moods. Music can make us happy, give us energy, make us cry, make us conjure images of the past…and even images of the future.
There are all kinds of things that make people happy. Movies, books, comedians, experiences. When I think of happy experiences, Disney is top of mind. Makes sense, right? Amusement park, rides, great characters…all built around an imagined world dedicated to children. Disney is a large-scale business built around happiness. But, how might a soft drink company leverage happiness? A few days ago a friend shared an article about Coca Cola’s Happiness campaign. I was skeptical until I saw this video.
Studies show stress is not a good breeding ground for creativity. This week I’ve been stumped for ideas. When I first started this blog, I set a goal for posting 5 times a week. I’ve found writing has been a great way to tap into productively finding an outlet for the ideas that roam the recesses of my mind. However, this week I’ve felt stretched. There’s been a ton going on between work and home. Throughout the week I kept thinking, ‘I know there’s a blog post somewhere, but I can’t get it out.’
For many years I have wanted to capture the images I see in my mind in enough detail so that those around me could understand them. I am a visual thinker and connect images mentally, however, I am unable to present them physically. In 2010, I attended the CPSI conference and joined Jon Pearson’s Draw Power. At a minimum, I expected he would be able to help me capture the vivid pictures in my mind onto paper. I envisioned myself becoming adept at taking the realistic images in my mind and capturing them in a recognizable format for all to see and understand. Well, I was wrong – in a good way
Fortunately, Jon had something even greater in store. Through exercises in scribbling and doodling, Jon helped participants connect visual images and verbal descriptions using our hearts rather than our minds. At first, this was awkward. To draw without thinking took a great deal of effort. But because we only had a few seconds per drawing, disconnecting my mind from my body became easier. After leading us in a quick doodle, Jon asked us to articulate what the image said about us. Interestingly, a few stray marks on a page quickly turned into my description, ‘I am a tenacious person and all of these dots on the page represent the number of angles I take to solve a challenge.’ The Draw Power session helped me understand a picture really is worth a thousand words.
From time to time everyone gets into a creative slump. What’s a person to do? Here are a couple of tricks you can try:
- Collaborate with inspiring people – In his book, The Element, Ken Robinson talks about finding your tribe. A tribe is a group of people who inspire you and push you to become better at your craft. Tapping into your tribe when you’re in a creative slump can help to get your creative juices flowing. A good place to add to your tribe, or find tribe members, is Twitter. If you search on Twitter you can find lots of chats where you can connect with like minded folks. One way to find chats is to do a hashtag (#) search. By searching on topics like #creativity, I was able to find one of my favorite weekly chats #innochat. We gather each week at noon EST to chat about creativity and innovation. Join us if you wish. Everyone is super welcoming. Read more
I was fortunate to attend a presentation by Zappo’s CEO, Tony Hsieh (pronounced SHAY) while he was in Boson on the Delivering Happiness Tour (@DHMovement) and was struck by Hsieh’s creativity and ingenuity in building the Zappos business.
After selling his first company LinkExchange to Microsoft for $265 million and Zappos to Amazon for $1.2 billion, Hsieh wrote a book titled, “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose.” In the presentation, Hsieh talked, among other topics, about the importance of an organization’s purpose and how it contributed to helping Zappos become the company it is today.
Researchers have found creativity and happiness are connected to job satisfaction, more enjoyable leisure time, and overall well-being. The scientific study of happiness is called positive psychology.
Positive psychology seeks to help people lead happier lives. In attending conferences and reading about positive psychology I learned, if you want to be happy you need to work at it. In your daily routine you need to set goals that liberate your energy and inspire your hopes. Simply, you need to set goals that bring happiness. The “Law of Effect” states you get more of what you reinforce. By reinforcing happiness, you will become happier.