Susan Hamilton unlocks the beautiful paradox hidden in the boundaries that constrain us, whether physical, intellectual, or emotional, and reveals a few obstacles that have stimulated creativity.
At the moment, many of us are encountering more constraints than we have ever experienced in our lifetimes. Options and freedoms of all kinds are limited. Your summer vacation plans? Canceled. Back to school in the fall? Not so sure. Even a simple trip to the grocery store has become a somewhat complicated maneuver.
But there may yet be reason to rejoice. We might just be entering the most energized and accelerated period of innovation in recent history.
It may seem counter-intuitive that constraints spark innovation. It flies in the face of the traditional approach to strategy. With the classic SWOT analysis, for example, you identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats an organization faces in order to exploit the strengths and opportunities and mitigate the weaknesses and threats.
But those weaknesses and threats may, paradoxically, be what activate your imagination and unearth opportunity. Constraints encourage idea generation by applying focus and urgency to the task at hand. Through the lens of constraints, you can think about how your limitations can be turned to your advantage.
Artists do this when they choose to work exclusively within a particular structure or medium. Theodore Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) famously wrote Green Eggs and Ham after Random House founder Bennett Cerf bet him that he couldn’t write a children’s book with just 50 different words. Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein when she found herself trapped indoors during an unusually cold and stormy summer near Lake Geneva with nothing else to do.
Key points include:
- The Great Depression
- Video conferencing apps
- Core incompetencies
Read the full article, The Beauty of Constraints, on SusanMeierStudio.com.
In a recent interview on The Transformative Leader Podcast, Susan Meier discusses the importance of integrating creativity at work even, and especially, in jobs not traditionally considered creative.
I always had these two very strong, for a long time, parallel and separate tracks of things that I was interested in. I was always interested in the arts, both in making art and studying the history of art, and then I was also really captivated by the problem solving analytical thinking piece that drew me into consulting. And that was my first job as an undergrad at the Boston Consulting group. So I loved the nature of my work, but that job by itself didn’t activate that visual piece for me, so for many years I had these two parallel worlds where I would go to my art studio, I would paint, I would exhibit my work, inhabit a space with a completely different set of people from this other world where I was in management consulting and working with Fortune 500 companies, making spreadsheets, thinking about operations and logistics. And then I discovered branding.
Key points include:
- Merging the creative with the analytical
- Why activating both sides of the brain is key to unlocking creativity
- How integrating creative and artistic practices into standard business processes can prime the brain for innovative thinking and solutions
- How creativity and fulfillment are related, at home and at work.
Listen to the podcast, “Embracing Creativity in the Workplace” on the Ghannad Group website.
Recently, there has been much discussion about the value of play for helping creative ideas flourish, but Kaihan Krippendorff shares examples of play at work and provides 10 ways to inject play into your organization.
In the 1830s, an artist and tinkerer, Samuel Morse, directed his curiosity to a question few had considered before. Numerous scientists and inventors across the globe were working on the problem of how to communicate across long distances more quickly.
At the time, information could travel only as fast as a human could. Ink on paper would be rushed to its recipient by horse, later by canal, later by steam engine. Each innovation accelerated the speed of communication, but none could break the limitations that physics put on the written word.
While scientists and inventors around the world worked on plans that could accelerate the speed of communication (e.g., one team was working on a system of telescopes and flashing lights dotted across land), Morse approached the challenge from an artistic bent. He was more curious about the physical experience humans had in trying to decipher and make sense of blinks, how to paint signals onto paper.
Areas of interest in this article include:
- Revving up the speed of communication
- A painter inspired by play
- Play your way to a breakthrough
- You can’t have success without failure
- 10 ways to inject play
Read the full article, Play: The Source of Innovation, on Kaihan’s website.