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10 Tips is 8 More Than We Need

March 10th, 2008 by Shannon Newton

On Monday at SxSW I watched Bryan Mason and Sarah Nelson from Adaptive Path discuss the 10 tips for managing in a creative environment. This post focuses only on two tips. Don’t worry, At the end of this, I will list the other eight tips for those of you who absolutely MUST look under the bandage.

What I love about the adaptive path research was how they took a cross disciplinary slice. They spent time studying diverse, creative groups including restaurants, theater troupes, and professional writers among others.

Tip #1: Actively turn the corner

This diagram is of the creative process:

The first half of creating anything involves a divergence of ideas. You start with a single idea and then everyone starts throwing in different ideas that diverge from the original. No idea is eliminated at this stage and often experiments and mini-models are created. Then you turn the corner. At some explicitly defined point, you stop taking in new ideas and start converging towards a single point by eliminating what is unnecessary. This reduces scope creep, release slippage and the dreaded moving target. Eliminated ideas aren’t trashed, simply put into a “future creation/release” bucket.

Tip #2: Kill your darlings

Eliminate the ideas you LOVE that don’t get you closer to the goal first. Don’t eliminate the low hanging fruit or easy choices first. Choose instead to go after eliminating the tough choices from the beginning. By biting the bullet and eliminating the difficult choices first, the low-hanging fruit (those ideas to which you are not attached) becomes easy.

The eight other tips:
3. Cross-train the entire team
4. Rotate leadership
5. Know your roles
6. Practice, practice practice
7. Make the mission explicit to the entire team
8. Leadership is a service
9. Generate the creative projects around the group’s interests
10. Remember the audience

BONUS: Celebrate Failure (after all, it’s part of the creative process)

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