Dan Goodwin uses the analogy of building a campfire to provide a fantastic way to think about how to maintain creative momentum. He advocates creating “little and often” rather than procrastinating and exhausting oneself in one big creative onslaught. Here’s a sample of what he has to say:
If you wanted to have hot water on tap by your campfire, the most efficient way of doing it would be to fill a small pot, lower it over the fire until it was boiling, then raise it and keep it at just the right height to stay at a good temperature …
What you wouldn’t do, is every time you wanted a cup of tea or chocolate, get a huge ten gallon pot of cold water, drag it to a new area of the forest, build a campfire from scratch, heat the pot over the fire for the hour it might take to boil, then when it was ready, pour out your single mug of drink, put out the fire and throw the rest of the boiling water away. Before collapsing into your sleeping bag, too tired to even raise your mug, let alone enjoy your drink …
Yet this is exactly the kind of crazily inefficient, time consuming and exhausting approach we often take when we try to create.
Chuck Frey gives a preview of Seth Godin’s new book, We Are All Weird, in which Godin asserts that the Internet has amplified creative activity by helping people with very niche (specialized) interests share information faster and better, thus pushing each person to “push ever further” their ideas and creations.
Roth, a Ph.D. student studying in Paris, provides a perceptive analysis of the popular social product development platform Quirky, which recently decided to Reinvent The Bicyle in a 24h brainstorm on its platform. He notes that some contributors (who acted more as observers and critics) complained that the end product wasn’t as innovative as they had hoped, but he says that really wasn’t the point of the exercise.
I think that Quirky’s bet is not to reinvent anything (even if they came up with innovative products already) but to take co-creation to the next level. It’s about entertainment, not about innovation. If you want innovation, then you’ll have to ge and see experts, practinionners, creative consumers, lead users and the like; but if you want to create emulation around your products, than you shall involve the masses!
Jane Campbell provides a lovely quick tour of some high points of the creative process. I like her discussion of why preparation of a designer is vital to a successful design process:
In preparing to design, a designer must understand what has already been done and how they can do things differently. This is the beginning of the spark of creativity. Designers study everything. Inspiration can find its way into the mind of a designer in many ways. It may be a painting by Monet or the rhythm of pillars at the entrance of a neoclassical-style courthouse that inspires a design. Looking, seeing and understanding are three fundamental skills a designer must posses in order to create extraordinary designs.
I also like her description of the “incubation” phase of design:
Many times, you may find a designer looking out a window or sitting on a park bench doodling in a sketchbook. You may think they are simply daydreaming, or even worse, goofing off. In most cases, this is actually the most productive phase of the creative process. This is the time when a designer is incubating all of the different ideas that have spawned from preparation. This is the phase of the creative process where the designer may find two dissimilar ideas and pull them together into one cohesive concept. This is the so-called “spark” of creativity. If you interrupt a designer at this point in the process, you may find yourself dodging technical pencils and sketchpads.
Creativity coach Quinn McDonald presents an insanely accurate description of five of the worst killers of creative activity – TV addiction, drama, fear/anger mongering, social networking (when done inappropriately), and lack of sleep – and provides commonsense tips for overcoming each one. One of the best posts on the topic I’ve seen all year!
A sprawling, meaty review of the state of design in America today, including profiles of master designers and companies that “get” the importance of design innovation to maintaining a competitive advantage.