Friday, June 27, 2008

Fix and Flex Part 2

I received a great response from our first installment on the "Fix and Flex" concept. On of our facebook group members asked the following question and I wanted to take a minute and process it with you.

"Jon -- Cool. Sounds like being goal oriented. For me, that is a strong motivator...but what about other creative types that are not particularly goal oriented...who prefer to feel the flow. Any tips? Any tips for those to whom they would be accountable?"

Here are some thoughts:

When we talk about fixing one thing and flexing another, we usually thing dates/times/etc. Those are very linear things that we wish we could fix on both ends. The innovation of fix and flex is that we pick the most important one to success and then the other side of the equation stays loose and able to change.

But lets think about this in a different way for creatives who aren't at all driven by linear goals. You can also do this with very conceptual things. For instance, let's say that you are a graphic designer and you are tasked with creating a series of postcards to promote an upcoming event. The normal process is to receive the scope for the project from whoever is requesting it and then begin to work based on that scope. But what if the designer looked at the scope and asked the question, "Which element of the scope is most central?" Out of this exercise they might pick one or two things to fix. Then they could process, what areas are open for new ideas or new approaches - those are the areas to flex.

Now comes along the manager of this graphic designer. If you are using the same vocabulary, the manager who is holding this graphic designer accountable can engage them and ask what things must be fixed and what areas can the designer really try some new and different approaches.

In this environment, a designer can create an innovative environment while still being accountable for the scope.

What do you think of this next application?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Fix and Flex Part 1

How do you create order and process if you are a creative/innovative person? This is one of those age old questions. We look at those creatives in our lives and many times they are tipified by the all-nighters, messy desks and ignored calendars. That is a stereotype of creative minds.

Mindy and I recently read an article that Dayna Garland, Creative Director at HCJB Global, gave us. It was entitled "How to Become an Early Riser" by Steve Pavlina. In this article he focuses on his journey to being an early riser. He did it because he saw that some of the most productive hours in the day were the early ones. I would highly recommend the read, but for this posting, I am only taking one of his core ideas and throwing it out there for a wider application.

His basic solution was what I am calling "Fix and Flex." In the article, he said that the way he was able to change his habits and become an early riser was to fix the morning time he would get up but flex the evening time based on how tired he was. Fix and Flex - sounds simple.

The beauty of this simple little concept is that it is the saving grace for all you creatives out there. Usually the answer to more discipline is a high amount of rigid restrictions. We see this in New Years Resolutions. In those high restrictions, compliance becomes very difficult. Usually, we fail and then give up.

The difference with fix and flex is that you fix one thing but you allow the more relaxed process of creativity to dictate the other. Let me give you another example. Lets say that my goal was to write in this blog three times a week. With this concept, I would fix the number of times I wanted to write but not when. That means that one week all three posts might come in the same night and the next week they would come on Monday Wednesday and Friday.

Are you seeing the applications? In the end, it is very simple. When we require that everything be fixed as a matter of discipline we are set up for failure because of circumstances, creative flow, etc. But when we allow for flexibility along with fixed goals, we create an environment where we can be much more innovative.

More to come in this in the next few days.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Loving Touch

A quote from Carolyn Arends' recent article in Christianity Today really got my attention the other day:

"Is there any story about God that isn't a love story?" - Carolyn Arends

She is right. No matter how aweful the situation or how strange the outcome, everything that God is about is covered in love. When He corrects - He loves. When he blesses - He loves.

So think about your work to innovate. How are we covering our actions in love. Sometimes it is easy to get so caught up in accomplishing a goal or creating something new. We get focused in and we act in very unloving ways. Then we wonder why God is not blessing our seemingly "holy cause."

This isn't something that just happens to those wayward people. It happens to all of us. We get so focused on our goal that we stop loving. How does this look practically?
- We reject a vacation request of a project member because our deadline is more important than their unique opportunity.
- We cut people off in a meeting when they are processing the project goals.
- We manipulate people to perform faster.
- We pit one person against another to motivate them.
- We yell at vendors who did not deliver.
- We short-change our family for the project.
- and the list goes on and on.

Our motivation in our innovation is the key. Are we doing our missional innovation out of a love for God and for those that our innovation will serve?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Being Dangerous

Charles Bukowski said, "To do a dangerous thing with style, is what I call art."

Why are we so risk adverse? Why are we so afraid to fail? Maybe some of those same reasons cause us to do little that draws attention or stands out as compelling.

Are you willing to do a dangerous thing?

Monday, June 09, 2008

A Rest from Blogging

Everyone needs a rest - so I have taken a week or two rest from blogging. But this week I am back and we will be talking about "Fixed and Flexed". Stay tuned for more on how this concept can help you create an environment for innovation.