Creativity can be a struggle. I am constantly trying to find the right approach to discover original ideas. As a musically challenged person, I wanted to understand what an artistically creative process might look like and to learn how to integrate greater creativity into my everyday work. MPS President Kendall Lott examines creativity and project planning in his PMI Podcast, “The Creative Process, Music and Project Management.”
Lott tracks down Chris Wilson, creative music lecturer at the University of Derby, for insight on applying pragmatic thought processes to creative work. This obstacle seems to be common among many industries and across a variety of projects. To keep the project on track an artist must understand the processes’ steps. Wilson explains that creativity is essential for generating good music, but he emphasizes that the process of producing music and reaching listeners also requires a broader, holistic plan; a complex, beautifully-written, piece of music is only a small part of a musician’s delivery process. Lott points out that “…art, the outcome of the project, is the product of planned effort.” In art, just as in engineering, information technology or project management there are countless hours of preparation and expertise required before the outcome is of any quality. Wilson asserts the perceived differences between art and other fields lie in an inaccurate belief that most artistic talent and creativity is either innate or comes easily to the artist. Michael Jordan took thousands of shots and played for over a decade before setting foot on Chicago Stadium’s floor and the Beatles spent innumerable hours perfecting their music in Liverpool’s clubs before they became a twentieth century pop-cultural icon.
Inspiration can come from anywhere and Wilson highlights some effective ingredients for a good creative stew that can dramatically change outcomes. He mentions how disruptions like increased risk, entering a different genre and implementing new elements or partners are all proven methods for developing creativity. Taken a step further, it is your experience, when pushed into a new environment that spark the creative energy that often lead to serendipitous ideas. The businessman who runs for public office, the statistician that becomes a baseball scout and the chemist who opens a restaurant are examples of life experience augmented by a new atmosphere that ignite something extraordinary.
Steve Jobs famously cited a calligraphy class he audited as the impetus for the beautiful fonts in his early computers, which have since been standard features in word processing programs. The cross pollination of ideas and practices from seemingly disparate fields allows us to reexamine our daily assumptions from unfamiliar perspectives. From design to delivery, artistic approaches require creativity and carefully laid plans that are still flexible enough to allow for imaginativeness. The next time I struggle to find a creative push in my work and I pop in my headphones for a little inspiration, I will have deeper appreciation for the process behind the music in my ears.