Month: February 2017

Creativity: Make Every Mistake Count

Creativity involves learning from mistakes

We are bombarded with wisdom from entrepreneurs telling us to make every mistake count.

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery,” James Joyce.

You will not bring the internet to a grinding halt or shut down the banking network for a few hours but you never know! It is in your own (and maybe your company’s) interests to own up and make the best of the situation, whatever happens!

You can recover and learn from the situation. After all, creativity is based upon a whole host of learning events. Here are some things that you might try.

Own up and own the mistake. Whatever the reason for things not going according to plan just own up. Don’t blame the people who let you down or the unfortunate circumstances that unfolded. Hold your hands up, realise what has happened and what can be learned and take action (or plan if appropriate).

Fix things if you can and tell someone. Don’t fix things and keep quiet. Mistakes often have potentially serious knock on effects which you may not know about. If problems are visible to everyone then more people can be on the look out or be involved in providing solutions.

Address the root cause. If you systematically reflect on mistakes, you will realize there are patterns in your performance that contribute to these errors. Use some creative techniques to do this if you can. It will stop you trotting out all of the old solutions that have not worked in the

Share what you learned. This will stop you making an idiot of yourself in the future. Furthermore, you now have some extra knowledge to stop others doing the same. Your negative moments will be turned around and be seen as positive. Just try not to have too many mistakes!!

Experiments should be treated in much the same way as mistakes. If you play and have some unexpected results then try to share them.

Procrastination Is Good For Creativity

Mona Lisa teh result of procrastinationProcrastination is good for creativity, or rather, it can be.

Procrastination is usually  characterised as a negative habit but this is not necessarily so. If you are working to a tight deadline, trying to complete an assignment or aiming for a difficult goal, procrastination will almost certainly delay successful completion.

Time For Reflection

Here we need a little reflection and to be honest with ourselves (and possibly our colleagues at work). If I delay because I am lazy then I should recognise this and take some action to ensure that I correct this behaviour. But in the world of creativity and innovation we sometimes hang fire completing something. Thus, we can make several iterations. This will ensure that we deliver the best solution possible. This is one of the golden rules of creative thinking ‘cycle often, close late’.

The Benefits Must Outweigh The Risks

Procrastinating can only help you to improve an outcome when the (tangible) benefits of delay outweigh the risks of hasty progress.  In such cases, procrastination allows time for reflection and learning. It also offers an opportunity to incorporate our learning into our current work.

We must, therefore, learn to procrastinate strategically to avoid threats (or minimise risks), become more innovative, and discover original and creative solutions to our problems. Why not build in a little ‘procrastination time’ into your project plans?

A Classic Case Of Procrastination

Here is just one example of a famous procrastinator, Leonardo Da Vinci. Researchers estimate that he painted the Mona Lisa in fits and starts over a period of several years. He started in 1503, and only completed the work just before his death in 1519. Critics said he wasted his time on various experiments and other distracting activities. They said it prevented his paintings from being completed earlier. Did he in fact make use of any of these lessons in his works before he died? What would the Mona Lisa have been like if it had been completed in say 1504?

The Creative Egg or The Creative Chicken?

Which comes first the chicken or the eggWhich comes first, and do we care? You may think that organisations are creative and think they must come up with ideas. You may see organisations that generate ideas and then think that they must be creative. So which comes first?

If we try to work out the solution to our little dilemma we will be here for ages. In a way creativity and ideas are just manifestations of something else that is going on.

Penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming due to a rash of untidiness. He could not be bothered to tidy up before going home and then going on holiday. A month later he returned to discover something strange growing in one of his petri dishes and realised that something significant was happening. Further investigation led to the discovery of penicillin.

Creativity (and ideas) come about through friction and tension. This can be effort vs laziness, humour vs seriousness, chaos vs order and so on. When these tensions occur then unexpected, and sometimes seemingly trivial things happen. All we have to do is simply be ready.

Some say that luck is what is required to come up with a good idea to exploit. This is not true, what is needed is serendipity. This is a piece of good fortune coupled with an ability to realise the significance of the lucky event and the ability to take action.

So whether you are trying to be creative on your own or as part of a large organisation don’t get bogged down in systems and processes (QA will probably favour the Chicken and HR the Egg) just keep an open mind and be ready!

5 Amazing Brain Facts

Here are some amazing brain facts that you should know. The brain is an amazing organ and its use (or not) is at the very heart of creative thinking. But what do we actually know about the human brain? Well very little it turns out. This is until you do some digging and unearth a few facts. Here are just some that I uncovered whilst researching my radio show this week.

1) Your brain accounts for roughly 2% of your body weight but it is responsible for using 20% of your total energy and Oxygen intake.

2) Our brain cells are not all alike. There could be as many as 10,000 different types of neurons within our brains.

3) Your brain generates between 12 and 25 watts of electrical power which is enough to light up a modern LED light bulb.

4) Were you drinking last night? Did you forget part of your evening? Well actually you did not, when you are drunk you cannot form memories so in fact you had nothing to actually remember.

5) Our brains are 73% water so it is not surprising that becoming just 2% dehydrated affects our memory and other cognitive skills.

More brain facts to come later!