5 for 5 blog – Books for Leaders – “Creative Confidence”

12 Sep


It has been a while since I have dedicated a post to a book that I read that has made an impression on me…well, we will break out of that this week.

All too often we are challenged to be more “innovative” or to bring more creative solutions to the issues facing the business. “Creative Confidence” was written by David and Tom Kelley, the brothers behind a good portion of the success of the design firm IDEO. At it’s most simple, this book was an aim to demystify creativity to enable people re-embrace their own creativity and make a positive impact on the world.

Here are five ideas/take-aways from this book that I hope would make every leader want to pick it up:

We have a creativity crisis on our hands

Over 80% of people in an Adobe survey stated that unlocking creative potential is the key to unlocking economic growth. However only 25% of people report living up to their creative potential. Part of the problem lies in the fact that for many of us the idea of sharing ideas is frightening. The fear of being judged can be paralyzing to the creative process. The opportunity to begin to overcome this is the process of guided mastery. Researched by Stanford professor Albert Bandura, the idea is to enable people to overcome phobia by taking small manageable steps towards overcoming the fear. The same can be applied to rediscovering our creative confidence.

Overcoming our fear, brings out new found courage

Professor Bandura called this courage, self efficacy and defined it as:

How people believe that they can change a situation and accomplish what they set out to do in the world.

What the researchers found is that once someone overcame , say, the fear of snakes, they were inspired to overcome many other challenges that had once stood in their way. Helping people overcome their fear of creativity then can open the doors to solve many problems they face in the world.

Embracing design thinking can help people to see themselves as creative again

We have certainly talked about the methodology of design thinking in this blog before. The following is a definition from the CEO of IDEO

“Design thinking is a discipline that uses the designers sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.” – Tim Brown, IDEO

As Kelley brothers describe, design thinking is unique because it challenges people not to race for the first available solution. Instead, to gather a lot of input by truly understanding the people who will use the product or service before converging on a single idea to solve the problem.

Innovation is inspired by creativity, but sometimes you have to get past the dreaded “blank page”

Most of the book is focused on the methods and practices used by IDEO and their clients to work through the design thinking process. A few ideas that I believe are truly important to enable this are:

  • Choosing creativity – People who come around to embracing their creativity are able to reframe problems, tolerate ambiguity, and grow intellectually, even through failure.
  • Think like a traveler – Gaining new insights by seeing the “familiar” with new eyes/
  • Empathize with the end user – In place of designing a solution as you see fit, truly understanding users reveals many needs, often unmet needs.

To achieve a creative breakthrough, we need to just start

Too often instead of experimenting with our ideas, we wait for the perfect solution. Or even worse we get so invested in a single idea that we become blind to many other options because of the sunk time and cost in that idea. We need to embrace the idea of trying our ideas out, accepting failures based on “sensible” risks, learning, and improving. There will never be a perfect solution or time….we need to put our ideas into the world and collaborate with clients, peers, and our teams to help make them better.

There is so much more to the book, and the above items are only a small portion. I know some will read this post and think “Well this doesn’t apply to my team. We are just procurement, or finance, or( fill in the blank).” The fact of the matter is that if you use your mind to solve problems, you are creative. And more so, if you lead a team of people that add value to customers and the business through solving problems and introducing new ideas, this book would be time well spent to see how you can enable a culture that not only see value in the topics presented, but again embrace the self-efficacy the Kelleys talk about and use that courage and creative confidence to make a difference.

Here are this week’s 5 for 5 articles:

What’s the ROI? Wrong question – by Steve McKee

The best sales advice I ever got was from a surfer dude. – by Kevin Catlin

To hell or through hell? – by Jake Lira

Make something great – by Seth Godin

11 Scientific Reasons to Drink More Coffee – by Geoffrey James

All the best, kevin