Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Everyday Creativity

Dewitt Jones, the highly regarded National Geographic photographer, has taught literally thousands of leaders some very important lessons about bringing creativity into the workplace.  Here are a few of the topics Jones covers:

Perspective - Learn to change lenses; change the way you look at challenges and problems.  Are you too close to the situation?  Are you not close enough?  Are you seeing things from only your perspective, or are there other perspectives that are valid ways to look at the situation?  You will almost always find that there is more than one right solution.

Try - If you don't try, you have already failed.  There should be no penalty for trying.  Leaders should encourage others to try, and have no fear of failure.

Patterns - We all fall into patterns of behavior, and ways of thinking.  In order to find creative solutions, we must break these set patterns.  Seeing things in a new light is necessary to find creative ways of dealing with challenges.

Technique - Train your technique so that you know how to use your equipment (tools of the trade) without having to think about the technical part of the job.  For Jones, this means being a skilled photographer who intuitively knows how to adjust his photographic equipment for various lighting conditions.  For a leader, it may mean being comfortable with the technology of your business, with computer systems or applications, or with communication channels.  The technique of using the tools should not get in the way of being creative.

- Every situation has places from which you can view events, people, and interactions.  Find the place of most potential.  This may be a place that is unusual for you, in your role as leader, to stand.  However, it is in this place where you will most clearly see what is going on down on the stage, and how you may be able to influence the outcomes.  (See the earlier post on The View from the Balcony).

Windows of opportunity
- The world provides us with windows of opportunity.  These may be instants in time, days, or months.  Be patient.  And, be ready to take action when the window of opportunity opens.

It's up to you - Whether you are the leader of an organization or one of the staff members, there is no one to whom you can delegate creativity.  If you are the leader, you affect the organization's culture.  Is creativity encouraged?  Is there a penalty for trying?  Are patterns allowed to be broken?  Do people know how to use their tools?  How skilled is their technique?  Do you encourage people to take advantage of windows of opportunity?

I encourage you to check out the very short video by Dewitt Jones - Everyday Creativity.  It is a very inspiring and information filled 22 minutes.