Unfolding plans 72 – What is holding us back?

It’s day two of Thinking Digital 2015.  It’s also the last day but saying day two gives it momentum and flow.  Steve and I have sorted out our tickets for next year so I guess it’s not really the last.

Again it’s been a fascinating day with lots of challenging topics.  There are two themes however that have leapt out for me over the conference.  Creativity and performance.

Ian Wharton told us that it is creativity that moves us forward yet somehow our creative processes are stifled and beaten out of us.  All of us are capable of being creative yet many of us never get around to putting our ideas into practice.

Ken Banks told us how many of the most effective inventions and interventions came about by a chance observation or when something didn’t quite work as expected.   Most are delivered with no real money, no real plan and no permission.

Tara Shears told us that if what happens doesn’t match your theory that is great because you could be on the verge of making a discovery.

All of the presenters were deeply passionate and engrossed in what they were doing.  All of them described what they did as a performance.  Each of their presentations was pure theatre.

Is it not the same for those of us who enjoy what we are doing (note that I class myself amongst that number)?  The work / life balance becomes blurred when what you do fulfils your interests.   Obsession takes over.  Nearly everyone admits to embarking upon some project with special and profound meaning to them yet the overwhelming majority never see it through to its completion.  Why is this so?  Are we overly ambitious in our expectations?  Does life get in the way?  Is there something that holds us back?

What is it?  What is it that is holding us back?  Why is it that when we grow up we stifle the formerly insatiable desire to learn, experiment and play that we had when we were young?  Those feelings are still there, Thinking Digtial shows that.  The presenters and the audience let go, even if it’s only for a couple of days, and rekindle their enthusiasm for the new, the exciting and the enchanting.

So what can we do?  How can we get the balance at work between the things that we need to get done and releasing the creative spirit that lies within us all?

We need a new contract between employers and employees, one in which makes it clear what is expected yet once completed allows for people to do what they want to do with their time.  The only stipulation may be is that what they want to do has to be related to what the organisation does, loosely or tightly.  The more they get done then the more time they have to be creative, explore and have fun.

This sounds crazy.  Why pay people to do stuff that they want to do yet the answer is obvious.  People do best what they enjoy.  Given the chance they will invest their free time in getting the stuff they are required to do as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

Performance leads to more opportunity for creativity.  Creativity leads to performance.

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