We caught up with Scott Berkun, author of Dance of the Possible, the mostly honest completely irreverent guide to creativity and asked him anything. We tried hard to keep to the topic of creativity…
Here are some of the highlights…
What are the biggest lies about creativity?
“That it is easy and fun. It is hard work.”
“That anyone has a monopoly on creativity. Everyone has the capacity to be creative.”
“That one framework works for everything. The book makes fun of prescriptive frameworks – 5 ways to do this or that – they’re a way of making someone famous.”
What are the biggest challenges in the creative process?
- Knowing when to stop.
To move from the Idea Creation phase to the Idea Development Phase and then to Idea Deployment.
“You experiment with different things, try different things to understand more of the problem but you never quite know if you explore a bit more if you will have a better idea.”
- Managing yourself and your ego
“You wouldn’t want to change things if you didn’t have an ego.”
“It’s very easy to be in denial – being self-aware of your strengths is a big part of being productive.”
“The last part of the book is about psychology, managing your own psychology and motivation is really hard and personal. Not being precious about your ideas is hard but essential to see the weaknesses of your creation – putting something out the world and listen to the critics.”
If people struggle to be creative? Scott Berkun’s Top Tips
“Usually the managers and executives who are asking this (how to be more creative) are the cause of the problem – the processes are largely their creation.”
“If I was a boss I would have to be willing to see my assumptions challenged.”
“Be prepared to test, measure, experiment. If an employee wants to work remotely, let them
“Keep a journal, a place were you’re allowed to write your thoughts – it’s practical, if you don’t write what go through your brain you will lose your ideas. It will also help your self-awareness, and help collect information that you only get by getting into the practice of writing your ideas – when/where do you have your best ideas?
Scott Berkun on Career Advice
In response to a question about how someone could force their manager to be more creative and open to ideas, we moved onto the subject of career development. Scott Berkun had something to say.
“Picking your manager is by far the most important thing to do for your career. I used to think that people would get job satisfaction by finding a project, a mission, a company, a work environment they liked but picking your manager is the number one driver of job satisfaction.”
“The network of people you work with will become incredibly valuable to you. If you need to find a job you will go to your network first.”
Scott Berkun On Creativity Consultants
“Consultancy in general is a dangerous game – the illusion of the consultancy is that you are paying money for amazing new methods, techniques… And when you come back in it’s not really working for you.
“You cannot outsource the important stuff. Consultants can do a good job of, for example, facilitating a particular piece of a process, but you need to own the overall process.”
What is the most challenging question you get on your book tour?
“The more practical questions are generally easy to answer – the hard questions are the ones about the meaning behind: ‘What is good?’ It’s not a question that other people can answer for you but it is fundamental to the value you assign to an activity. ‘Good’ could mean impact on society, profit, anything you want. You have to decide, no one else can decide for you.”
Huge thanks to Scott Berkun for taking the time to talk to us. We heartily recommend the book and look forward to seeing Scott in September at Business of Software Conference USA, 18-20th September 2017.
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