Are you doing or creating?

I often strug­gle to write because I don’t real­ly have an idea of what to say. But if I always wait­ed until I had an idea, I would end up nev­er writ­ing!

There­fore, I often start writ­ing with­out a clear idea of what the des­ti­na­tion will look like.

I don’t do every­thing in this way. As a soft­ware devel­op­er, if I start­ed to work on a project with­out plan­ning, I would go nowhere.

When doing cre­ative work, I work best when I don’t have a des­ti­na­tion in mind. But when I’m work­ing to achieve a spe­cif­ic goal, I need to put my cre­ativ­i­ty aside and fol­low a process.

Creativity vs Process

Cre­ative work is messy, inef­fi­cient, does­n’t have a pre­de­ter­mined goal and it’s usu­al­ly slow. And yet, it’s essen­tial because it cre­ates the most val­ue. Exam­ples are writ­ing a book,drawing a paint­ing or sim­ply com­ing up with a bet­ter way of doing things at work.

Process-based work is clear, effi­cient and fast but pro­duces no new val­ue. Exam­ples are the iter­a­tive build­ing of cars in car­mak­ing fac­to­ries.

Inno­va­tion always comes first. The wheel came first, then every­one copied it. The first iPhone was an inno­va­tion. The thou­sands that fol­lowed were the result of effi­cient process-based work.

Both types of work are need­ed, but it’s impor­tant to rec­og­nize what kind of work you’re doing.

Are you try­ing to come up with a break­through? Maybe you should­n’t be fol­low­ing some “process for cre­ativ­i­ty”. Instead, peek out of the box.

Are you try­ing to get a project done? Maybe you should­n’t try to rein­vent the wheel. Check to see what are the best prac­tices and fol­low them.

This does­n’t mean that you can’t improve an exist­ing process, but there’s a time and a place for every­thing. When you are work­ing, work. When you are cre­at­ing, cre­ate. But don’t con­fuse the two.

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