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Learnings

"Creative Confidence" by Tom Kelley and David Kelley

Another book from the Kelley brothers describing the creative thinking of IDEO and the d.school at Stanford. It's a compelling narrative on how to awake the creative potential within us all, and how to transform your company more propitious to innovative ideas. Because nowadays everybody knows that innovation and creativity are the key points to business success and some of the most highly prized qualities in today's leaders. But people tend to abdicate the mantle of creativity to the "creative types" - painters, illustrators, sculptors and writers - feeling frustrated at not being born with this "gift" or talent. Therefore, Tom and David demonstrate that creativity is actually a mindset, a way of thinking that everybody can learn and practice, including doctors, lawyers, engineers or salespeople. And companies which can spread this way of thinking throughout all the employees and make people from different areas working together in a collaborative way are the ones who stay ahead.

Tim Brown begins his TED talk "Tales of Creativity and Play" describing the relation between work and fun. He makes an experiment telling everybody to draw the person next to them in 30 seconds. After time is over, everybody start to laugh, feeling embarrassing and ashamed about their drawings. He points that this is the behavior we normally assume in our daily lives, feeling embarrassing to show everybody our crazy ideas, adopting most of the time a traditional and conservative attitude in our way of thinking. But the interested thing is that if we tell children to do this experiment, they would be not ashamed at all to show their "masterpieces" to everybody, assuming a completely inverse posture to ours.

Something happens in this transition from kids to an adult life. But the authors show us that we can recovery this mindset as we were kids to our work life, and thus unleash our creative potential. One of the key points is failure: a widely held myth suggests that creative geniuses rarely fail. With this mindset, people tend to be afraid to experiment new ideas, but the thing is that the opposite is actually true: creative geniuses fail more times by doing more experiments so they can come up with the right solution - they just don't let one single failure to stop them. In "The Lean Startup", Eric Ries shows us that the best way to transform an idea in a sustainable business is starting with a business model that you can test all the time if you are going to the right direction - so you can fail earlier and adapt your project as soon as possible. By assuming that failure is important to the process, you can manage to learn from your mistakes so you can walk to the right solution faster. So, thinking in your organization, create an environment that stimulate people to do more experiments and test new ideas without this fear is the key for you to come up with new innovative ideas.

Another key point is to open your mind to every inspiration in your life or the problem you are working on. Normally we tend to assume as if we know about everything in our daily life, but assuming this behavior we tend to get stuck in our way of thinking. If we start to pay attention to details we can find valuable insights and problems that need to be solved. This is the importance of empathy and get immerse into the context you are working on: by observing and talking to real people you can really understand their needs and get valuable insights, much more than if you stay inside your office waiting for an "eureka" moment.

During all the book, Tom and David tell us methods and stories in how they managed to implement creative confidence in a lot of different companies. So to grow this creative way of thinking in your organization, it's important to create a culture of innovation: draw on the power of multidisciplinary teams, encourage those around you to build on the ideas of others, and lead in a way that multiplies the capabilities of everyone in your organization. In this way, you will manage to nurture and unlock the creative potential in all your team and come up with great and innovative solutions.

Danilo SaitoComment