Part one of my weekly radio show Coffee With Derek broadcast on April 6th 2016 on Iman FM. Some things on Business Creativity and Innovation plus a little music from REM
“Mistakes are the portals of discovery,” James Joyce.
Your mistakes probably will not bring the internet to a grinding halt or shut down the banking network for a few hours but you never know! Whatever happens it is in your own (and maybe your company’s) interests to own up and make the best of the situation.
Here are just a few ways that you can recover and learn from the situation. After all creativity is based upon a whole host of learning events.
Own up and own the mistake. Whatever the reason for things not going according to plan just own up. Don’t blame the people who let you down or the unfortunate circumstances that unfolded. Hold your hands up, realise what has happened and what can be learned and take action (or plan if appropriate).
Fix things if you can and tell someone. Don’t fix things and keep quiet. Mistakes often have potentially serious knock on effects which you may not know about. If problems are visible to everyone then more people can be on the look out or be involved in providing solutions.
Address the root cause. If you systematically reflect on mistakes, you will realize there are patterns in your performance that contribute to these errors. Use some creative techniques to do this if you can, it will stop you trotting out all of the old solutions that have not worked in the
Share what you learned. Not only will you now have some extra knowledge that will stop you making an idiot of yourself in the future but you will be able to stop others doing the same. Your negative moments will be turned around and be seen as positive. Just trying not to have too many mistakes!!
Experiments should be treated in much the same way as mistakes, if you play and have some unexpected results then try to share them.
Procrastination is usually characterised as a negative habit but this is not necessarily so. If you are working to a tight deadline, trying to complete an assignment or aiming for a difficult goal, procrastination will almost certainly delay successful completion.
Here we need a little reflection and to be honest with ourselves (and possibly our colleagues at work). If I delay because I am lazy then I should recognise this and take some action to ensure that I correct this behaviour. But in the world of creativity and innovation we sometimes hang fire completing something, and make several iterations in order to try and make sure that we deliver the best solution possible. This is one of the golden rules of creative thinking ‘cycle often, close late’.
Procrastinating can only help you to improve an outcome when the (tangible) benefits of delay outweigh the risks of hasty progress. In such cases, procrastination allows time for reflection and learning and to incorporate our learning into current rather than future work.
We must therefore learn to procrastinate strategically to avoid threats (or minimise risks), become more innovative, and discover original and creative solutions to our problems. Why not build in a little ‘procrastination time’ into your project plans?
Here is just one example of a famous procrastinator, Leonardo Da Vinci. Researchers estimate that he painted the Mona Lisa in fits and starts over a period of several years, starting in 1503, and not completed until just before his death in 1519. Critics said he wasted his time on various experiments and other distracting activities that prevented his paintings from being completed earlier. Did he in fact make use of any of these lessons in his works before he died? What would the Mona Lisa have been like if it had been completed in say 1504?
The brain is an amazing organ and its use (or not) is at the every heart of creative thinking. But what do we actually know about the human brain? Well very little it turns out, until you do some digging and unearth a few facts. Here are just some that I uncovered whilst researching my radio show this week.
1) Your brain accounts for roughly 2% of your body weight but it is responsible for using 20% of your total energy and Oxygen intake.
2) Our brain cells are not all alike. There could be as many as 10,000 different types of neurons within our brains.
3) Your brain generates between 12 and 25 watts of electrical power which is enough to light up a modern LED light bulb.
4) Were you drinking last night? Did you forget part of your evening? Well actually you did not, when you are drunk you cannot form memories so in fact you had nothing to actually remember.
5) Our brains are 73% water so it is not surprising that becoming just 2% dehydrated affects our memory and other cognitive skills.
Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino firmly believes that being a rebel with a cause will boost your career and enrich you personally.
The professor conducted a study of more than 1000 employees and found that less than 10% worked at companies that encouraged challenging the status quo. According to her “when this happens, workers and their organisations both pay a price”. The price is decreased engagement, productivity and innovation.
Apparently the pressure to conform also increases as people progress in their careers. She states that sheep are easier to manage than wolves and a study on peer pressure by psychologist Solomon Asch found that 75% of people will pick an answer they know is wrong simply in order to fit in.
The professor believes that if we adopt constructive nonconformism and be authentic then this will benefit the organisation that you work for. In addition others respond positively to those who dare to be genuine and authentic. In an assessment of entrepreneurs at pitch contests, those who seemed sincere were three times more likely to win than those who were not authentic.
Professor Gino has 3 tips for us:
- Challenge your own assumptions first
- Master the past
- Start small
If you have any questions regarding being a rebel then please get in touch.