Do any of these sound familiar?
You know that high-performer on your team, the one who’s leaving? Sorry, due to budget issues we’re not filling that position.
You know those complex programs you’re building, the ones that break your brain every day? We need you to get them done faster.
You know that juicy account you’re about to sign? Well, your lead person in the company just resigned.
Or you’re ready for a promotion in your company and all you see is a concrete ceiling 1 inch above your head.
In any case, you need a light-bulb moment and those never come when you’re in the midst of the storm.
In discussing “ah ha” moments with instructional design master Bucky Wall, he shared a big frustration from a previous role:
Documentation. Software companies do not get just how big a hole they dig for themselves when they neglect documentation. By far, biggest barrier to quick development of training is the lack of product and process documentation. I’m actually surprised that those who have VC angels don’t require more documentation.
I believe the lack of documentation is the primary reason for the “20% of the employees have 80% of the knowledge.” Because the 20% are doing all the work and don’t have TIME to document anything. And therefore the “80%” never get any information. It’s a vicious cycle.
Bucky’s way of out this block is to avoid the trap of cultivating SME’s (subject matter experts) to know everything and have people focus on learning the details of their specific area. However, he didn’t see this so clearly until he stepped away from the “putting out fires” work style that so many of us get sucked into. (Or so we think!)
His big light bulb moment was this: Share the work. Really teach your SME’s to develop the training materials. It makes the courseware development go so much faster and gives individual departments more skin in the game. Mutual ownership instead “corporate does this, you do that.” Instructional designers can get caught up in their professional pride in delivering the high quality that only they can produce. In this context, ‘good enough’ is actually preferable.
Innovation is applied creativity. Bucky’s fresh insight is an example of getting a vision of where to apply your own creative thinking.
To get unstuck from any context, you need a light bulb moment. There are things you can do to have more light-bulb moments on a consistent basis, without going to art class.
I just got back from a writing workshop (in the photo) in Los Angeles led by marketing sharpshooter and scriptwriter, Melissa Cassera. (Her first produced movie is Girl Followed.) My own creative juices got a fresh jolt of mojo. You can’t always just hop on a plane to a creativity workshop.
For more light-bulb moments:
You could move. Specific cities like Austin and Raleigh-Durham are considered places that creative people find attractive. Rubbing shoulders with weird (i.e. creative) people will have a positive effect on you. But moving sounds like a lot of work.
3 FOR SURE Ways to Be More Creative Without Moving to Austin:
1. Realize that you are meant to create – being creative is not something just for professional artists. It’s for everyone, especially you technical folk!!!
A certain confidence is required to imagine that things could be different, or imagine things that don’t yet exist. To flourish, your creative force needs intentional support from you; protection from too many meetings.
Ask yourself, How can I? ….. not Why do I have to?
2. Put MORE white space in your calendar. Seriously, I get so tired of people complaining they have no time to think because of all the meetings. Don’t go to every single one, or leave early if you do. Schedule more meetings with yourself.
Light bulb moments come when you’re relaxed, not when you’re rushing around with your pants on fire.
3. Write down 5 or 10 or 20 ideas every day, no matter how dumb or obvious they may seem to you. This is an amazing practice I learned from this ad guy. To make it easier for me, I very broadly define “idea” to include my current obsessions, like Hart earrings, magnolia blooms and Swork. It’s absolutely magical how this practice (even if you don’t get to it every single day) triggers new connections in your brain.
Cultivating those light bulb moments delivers fresh insight, new approaches and real solutions.
What’s your tip for being creative? Or what’s a recent light-bulb moment? Please in the comments.
For an interesting documentary on the marketing of rock stars, see Supermensch.