Over the past week and a half or so, I’ve had the good fortune to attend two conferences: the first was hosted by the American Advertising Federation’s 4th District and the second by Converge Florida. I’ll be following up later this week with a more in-depth look at both events, but an interesting commonality I found between them was the idea that it’s important (both in life and the workplace) to foster an environment where it’s okay to make mistakes. (Note: Let’s be clear on the fact that it’s not okay to DELIBERATELY make mistakes.)
Ideation is a huge part of what I do and who I am as an individual. My job requires me to be innovative and creative on behalf of my clients and agency, and my inner muse demands the same things from me at home. However, an important part of that innovation/creation process is the realization that not every idea will be perfect, and that that’s okay. If I’m being honest with myself, as someone who has a tendency to be a little OCD, it never feels okay, which means it’s a concept I’m going to have to work to apply.
I think this really hit home for me on Friday during the keynote from Jessie Shternshus, founder of The Improv Effect (which is where I pulled the quote above). As part of her overall discussion, she noted that in order for creative environments to succeed and ideation to occur, the following concepts needed to be understood by the group at-large:
- Don’t be afraid to fail.
- Be self aware and actively listen.
- Mistakes are opportunities for gaining new perspectives.
- Blocking gets you nowhere. (Shutting down another person’s idea isn’t helpful to the brainstorm.)
- Say “yes and…” (Instead of blocking/criticizing a teammate or partner’s idea, take what they’ve shared and add to it to see how you can grow the idea. It says, I liked your idea so much that it inspired me.)
I work in a lot of collaborative environments: at the office, at home and with organizations I volunteer for, and this philosophy of seeing mistakes as gifts, and not being afraid to fail, is a challenge I hope to apply in the days, weeks and months ahead to take my creativity and ideas to the next level.
It may be a scary prospect to share things that are only half-baked, but as Daniel Burka from Google Ventures mentioned in another session, “You may think you’ve got a great idea, but really all you’ve got is an inkling. Until your start building it, you’ve got nothing.”