Tag Archives: creativity

Leadership IS Creativity IS Design

YESTERDAY’S post was Leadership IS Creativity.

Shortly afterwards I saw the post: “There Are A thousand Noes For Every Yes“, over at Alesandra Blakeson’s User Friendly blog, featuring a great short clip from Apple (re-posted below).

I wish everyone who designs anything, understood this:


Any act of creativity is ultimately an act of design.  Even a work of art has a purpose, and anything with a purpose needs to be designed with that purpose in mind.

In leadership, and in life, we humans need to be creating what should be; what could be.  And whether creating a meal, a production process, a better car, a new label, a recruiting protocol, a film, a lesson, whatever; creating the good requires good design.


Here’s Apple’s take, a beautifully designed presentation of a great design philosophy.

Leadership IS creativity.

ML-Poster-CREATE-WhiteCreativity, at is essence, is the process of finding a way to get from what is, to what could be.  One imagines something new, something one wishes to make real, and the creative process is the means by which one then brings that idea, that vision, into reality.  It’s not linear – the process itself often spawns new ideas for what could be, and new methods.  Creativity fuels creativity.

Whether one is making a work of art, finding the best solution to a production process problem, creating new software, writing a book, righting a misunderstanding, or creating a company, the process is fundamentally the same.

What do I want to create?  What outcome do I wish to achieve?  What resources do I have?  What resources do I need?  What methods will I use?  How much time do I have and need?  What obstacles will I face?  All of these questions, and more, apply equally in all acts of creating the new.

And this is what leadership is about.  It’s what leaders do.  On a small scale, solving daily challenges, and on a large scale, achieving a grand company vision.  Leadership means imagining what could be, and then creating it.

Just as everyone can and should take the lead, so, everyone should, and can, be creative.  They are, in fact, two sides of the same coin.  Leadership is creativity.

*   *   *   *   *

There’s many ways to foster one’s creativity, and we’ll explore some in future posts.  For now, here’s “John Cleese on Creativity”.  It’s 36 minutes and well worth it.  Get a coffee and settle back for half an hour.  It’s as entertaining as it is informative.



Time to think


Alarm.  iPhone.  Get ready.  iPhone.  Commute.  iPhone.  Email.  Meetings.  Lunch.  iPhone. Clients.  More meetings.  iPhone.  Drinks.  Commute.  Gym.  TV.  Internet.  Sleep.

Do it again.

You live a full life.  It’s no doubt easier than life was for your forebears a few generations ago, but it’s also faster-paced, more varied, and filled with countless more distractions.

And yet, as it was for your forebears, and always has been for humans, every action you take requires a preceding process of thought.  Whether choosing your dinner, buying a house, or deciding your life’s goals, you need to think it through.  The only difference is one of degree, which means the time it takes; or should take.  A little for dinner, more for the housing choice, and lots for those big goals.

So where does “thinking time” fit in to your schedule?

When was the last time you devoted an uninterrupted and significant period of time – with zero distractions; no TV, no web, no music, no anything – to thinking?

Probably been a while, right?  Most of us snatch some “time to think” while doing other things.  Driving.  On the train.  In the boring meetings (if we’re not texting or playing Angry Birds).

Quite apart from the fact that effective thinking requires a specific process and plenty of practice, even the best thinker would gain little without devoting the time.

If dedicated thinking time is not part of your regular schedule, may I suggest working it in?  If you think you don’t have time, here’s a few tips:

The shower.  By now you can wash on auto-pilot.  Pick a topic and think it through while you do your body-maintenance.

Running, especially if you do it on a treadmill.  Ditch the iPod and do some targeted thinking instead.

Best of all, set aside 20 minutes of me-time during that part of the day when you’re at your most alert.  Be alone, get comfortable, pick a topic, and start asking yourself questions (which is what thinking boils down to).  Doing it on paper can bring even better results, because it slows you down, makes you think about the questions you ask and about the answers you give yourself.

Practice targeted thinking, and you’ll be amazed at how much you didn’t know you knew.

Practice it often, and do it well, and you’ll be in a tiny minority.  As that old saying goes: 1% of people make things happen, 5% of people write about what happened, and the rest wonder what the heck is happening.  The 1% are the ones doing the thinking.


Think better with Tap Your Own Brilliance.

For more on thinking, see the Resources page.

Brain Pickings

IF you haven’t already, I highly recommend bookmarking Brain Pickings.

Created by Maria Popova, the site is well worth regular visits.  From the “About” page:

Brain Pickings is a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness, a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why, bringing you things you didn’t know you were interested in — until you are.

Today’s post:  The Pace of Productivity and How to Master Your Creative Routine  is worth reading twice if you’re undertaking any kind of longer term creative endeavor, and/or your routine is less than solidly entrenched.

Here’s the key message.  You. Must. Work. On. Your. Creative project. EVERY. Day.

And while you’re there, be sure to check out the left side-bar under “Labors of Love” and “Must Reads”.  It’ll keep you busy for hours.

John Allison at Cato

FORMER CEO at BB&T Bank, John Allison, is now heading up the Cato Institute.  BB&T, lead by Allison, was one of very few banks that didn’t succumb to the government-induced incentive to originate mortgages to people who couldn’t really afford them (sub-prime), and hence came through the GFC relatively unscathed.  The BB&T Philosophy, thanks to Allison, is grounded in reason, and one of the best I’ve seen.  I’ve based my own companies’ guiding documents largely on these – they’re that good.

From his blog post, Thoughts on Joining Cato Institute:

“We must be free to think for ourselves if we are to be productive, creative, innovative, and happy. By definition, all human progress is based on creativity (innovation). Unless someone does something better (that is, different), there can be no progress. Creativity is only possible for an independent thinker. If someone forces you to act as if 2 plus 2 is 5, you cannot think. Government regulations often force decision makers to act inconsistently with what they know to be correct, discouraging productivity and lowering our standard of living.”