What walls do you or your organization put up to stifle your ability to be creative? One wall I want to discuss is our endless pursuit of perfectionism. Perfectionism crushes creativity! To be creative one must allow themselves to experiment and explore and in the process be imperfect. Experimentation and exploration are the bedrock to creativity.

Experimentation and exploration at work could include trying new processes, models or procedures that are performed on a daily and weekly basis. Breaking the “everyday” model in and of itself unlocks new energies and opens oneself up to new creative possibilities. One technique to ignite experimentation is making “connections with the opposites”. Jeff Bezos from Amazon is a great example of a CEO who made connections with the opposite by discovering a “work backwards approach”. Most companies do a “skills forward approach” which involves selling the client what they are good at. So if a company sells books they put all their energies into printing and selling books. The singular focus has its merits but the results are void of innovation and inspiration.

Bezos’ “work backward approach” asked customers what product they would like to have in the future- the skills forward approach would have began with the engineers making the product (book) and selling it to the customers. After talking to the customer he took their ideas back to the engineers and they ended up discovering the ebook and kindle.

Regardless of your company (products or services), develop a process that is opposite of what your competition is doing. The results could be messy at first and may not garner you instant results, however, innovation is often times messy and complicated. As business artists would say: Embrace the Mess.