I am officially obsessing about creativity. This has everything to do with all of the content devoted to innovation. Discussions about innovation seem to be everywhere — yet, we don’t to fully understanding how to cultivate it. Yes, innovation is a critical concept in today’s workplaces. However, I can’t help but think that we might be putting the cart before the horse. Which leads me to one crux of the innovation dilemma. When it comes to innovation — don’t we need creativity to be there first to pave the road?
Where creativity is concerned it is wise to learn from the masters. I’ve just listened to HBR’s interview with Ed Catmull, President of Pixar Animation Studios. Undeniably, the folks at Pixar seem to have a handle on the creativity realm, and the innovative results which follow. Catmull explains that the dynamic they have built at his studio isn’t perfect. However, the employed creative process has successfully contributed to some incredible game-changing outcomes. (Consider Toy Story for a moment).
The ideas Catmull proposes may initially make us a bit uncomfortable — and go against the grain of how we might usually work. But, the dynamic has undeniably been proven to be a winner.
Here are a few of Pixar’s strategies to consider:
- Banish perfectionism. There is a misconception that an idea has to be perfected to share it. Throw that rule out the window — and take a leap of faith to trust your team. Share your ideas earlier and gain useful input to build on its strengths.
- Don’t let risk dictate. Give ideas enough time to “flesh out” before the looming possibility of risk snuffs out the possibilities. Evaluate risk as time goes on, and address those risks one step at a time — after the true potential of the idea is presented.
- Don’t focus on just one idea. Becoming creative isn’t about locking in on one idea and never letting in another creative thought. Look to accumulate a number of ideas, and group them to help catapult a project forward. If you work in a group (as they do at Pixar), let a number of ideas from different contributors co-exist for a time. See what develops.
- Not all ideas are initially money makers. Sometimes the process of following a creative path is simply good for the soul. Even if the idea doesn’t prove lucrative, it might pave the way for other ideas which have a much greater payoff.
- You can give up. Not every creative endeavor deserves long-term attention or resources. If you have the feeling that you’ve entered a dead-end, offer yourself permission to move on. File the work for a later date — it may become more relevant down the line.
How do you stoke innovation in your team? Share your strategies.