Thursday, February 19, 2009

Innovation Block

Writer's block is a terrible thing and it can really zap your overall confidence. The worse case that I ever had (knock wood) lasted over three years and took some serious effort to overcome. This post by Henrik Edberg of the Positivity Blog offers some great suggestions to keep writer's block from invading your psyche: How to Never Get Writer's Block.

I have been subscribing to The Positivity Blog for over a year and highly recommend it for useful advice and tips on how to keep you and your thoughts from from defeating your dreams and derailing your projects.

Here is Henrik's list of things to do to keep from shutting down mentally:

1. Always carry a pen and paper
2. Write everything down
3. Brainstorm
4. To get a good idea, have a lot of ideas
5. Expose your mind to new ideas
6. Expose your mind to stillness
7. Keep your mind open
8. Just start writing whether you feel like it or not

It occurs to me in deeply considering Henrik's list that these are the suggestions that I would give to an organization that is trying to innovate and renew. Similar to what happens with writer's block, organizations can get caught up in the doing of it all to the point of fatigue and numbness. This numbness becomes so solid that creativity and excitement are rooted out. There becomes such a focus on completing tasks that the connection to why we are doing becomes lost, or if many years have past, is not known in the first place to people who have entered the system since the project or event or initiative was started. This driving automaticity can take over just like the realities of managing one's life can dry the well of thought and creativity that leads to writing.

To overcome an innovation block, an organization must become as diligent and intentional as a blocked writer in creating circumstances that lead to creativity and energy directed toward inspiration and action. That means intentionally making routine time to bring in new sources of information, new perspectives, and new ideas. Dedicating a set portion of every meeting to question assumptions, to take the view from 30,000 feet, and to reconnect to purpose can help the picture of the whole come into focus for many and it creates space for improving and enhancing parts of a project or process. It is in improving or enhancing the parts that innovation can take root and value can be added.

Most importantly and most frustrating to the driving do-ers of any organization is Henrik's suggestion that to have a good idea, you have to have a lot of ideas. To have lots of ideas takes time and effort and many will lose interest, or fail to garner interest, and revert to let's do what we know because it is quick and easy, tried and true. And, so it may be. If, however, innovation and continued relevance is your goal, "quick, easy, tried and true" are true innovation blocks.

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