Using Time Constraints for Creativity in Teams?
Updated: Dec 20, 2018
In case you only have a moment, I’ll start with a hasty conclusion here! “In conclusion, sometimes time-constraints and pressures seem to actually help the creative process along.”
There. That was a short read! You are welcome. Now, go for it!"
"...staff should, in my opinion be as adept at 'productivity under pressure' as they are at 'productivity under process.'"
In a corporate or large-organization environment, processes and workflows are often emphasized. First we do this. Then this happens. Then, we are done! I’m for processes, order, workflows, and efficiency.
Even so, staff should, in my opinion be as adept at “productivity under pressure” as they are at “productivity under process.” This is not to say that “productivity under pressure” will always be as high-quality as “productivity under process” (although it could be). My premises here are that:
A staff team should be comfortable with the concept of ditching “process” to get something done quickly.
A staff team might actually thrive when creativity is refined, squeezed, distilled, and forced from time-constraints and pressure.
"Sometimes the best stuff just comes out when we squeeze it out. That’s how you make lemonade, right!"
So, let’s test it.
I’m going to give myself 15 minutes more to finish composing the bulk of this article. Then, I edit.
Over-thinking can clog a project.
(Internal) “Hmmmmm…… what if we did this? Well….. I don’t know. It could work, but, you know how that went last time we…. Wait! Did I leave the oven on. Back to the task. Maybe we should call a meeting and do this as a roundtable. Tomorrow? I’ll send a chat message out.”
Over-talking can confuse a project.
(External) “Well Joe, you haven’t said much at our planning meeting… what do you have to say? Have we reached out to the Seattle office to get their opinion? Oh, they're in a different time zone. Ok, we have a list of 14 ways to do this. Now let’s vote. Ok… coffee break first.”
Just make something up!
Recently, I was working with a team of 2 others to build a marketing plan for my client’s client. We sat down (well I was at the white board), and our conversation began: For the first 5 or 10 minutes, discussion was about our LACK of information and basically about how that lack of client information meant that we could not do the marketing plan.
I remembered a songwriting concept (from my music background) of just writing a song with a group on-the-spot… just write the song. Honestly, some good melodies would could out of it.
I suggested to that marketing team: “Let’s plan in the next 50 minutes.” You know what? We did it!
Mobilizing Creativity in Your Organization
Time Constraints -
Consider that you may need to put some constraints on your teams or individuals to extract what I’ll call here, “Efficient Creativity.” Sometimes the best stuff just comes out when we squeeze it out. That’s how you make lemonade, right!
Paralysis by Perfectionism -
Consider that you may need to stop analyzing with so much scrutiny the work of those who work for you. Sometimes, managers can loose the goal of a project (for our example, creating a marketing solution for my client’s client), and we start focusing on the internals of the project.
Misalignment of the “What” and the “How” -
If we don’t clearly communicate “What we want to do” and “How we want to do it,” then sometimes the creative process is actually spent searching for focus. If you give your team focus, then creativity can be much more natural!
"...sometimes the creative process is actually spent searching for focus."
Ok times up.