[notes] Creative Confidence

Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All (2013) by Tom Kelley and David Kelley #

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Introduction: The Heart of Innovation #

Chapter 1: Flip - From Design Thinking to Creative Confidence #

“Belief in your creative capacity lies at the heart of innovation.”

“Deep empathy for people makes our observations powerful sources of inspiration.”

“We believe successful innovations rely on some element of human-centered design research while balancing the two other [technical and business] elements.”

Chapter 2: Dare - From Fear to Courage #

“Bandura’s work [in self-efficacy] scientifically validates something we’ve been seeing for years: Doubts in one’s creative ability can be cured by guiding people through a series of small successes.”

The Failure Paradox #

“A widely held myth suggests that creative geniuses rarely fail. Yet creative geniuses are quite prolific when it comes to failure - they just don’t let that stop them. Creative people simply do more experiments. Their ultimate "strokes of genius” don’t come about because they succeed more often than other people - they just do more, period.“

Let Go of Comparison #

"When our self-worth isn’t on the line, we are far more willing to be courageous and risk sharing our raw talents and gifts.”

Chapter 3: Spark - From Blank Page to Insight #

Cultivate a Creative Spark #

  1. Choose Creativity
  2. Think Like a Traveler
  3. Engage Relaxed Attention
  4. Empathize with your End User
  5. Do Observations in the Field
  6. Ask Questions, Starting with ‘Why?’
  7. Reframe Challenges
  8. Build a Creative Support Network

Getting Into Relaxed Attention #

“Another opportunity to tap the power of relaxed attention occurs each morning. When you are awakened from a deep sleep, such as when your alarm goes off, you may find yourself in a half-conscious state between waking and dreaming, which is a perfect moment for relaxed attention.”

Interview Techniques #

  1. Show me
  2. Draw it
  3. Five “why’s”
  4. Think aloud

Cultivate Creative Serendipity #

Quote from French chemist Louis Pasteur: “Le hasard ne favorise que les esprits prepares” (chance favors the trained mind).

Rephrased by the authors: “Chance favors people who do lots of experiments and then pay very close attention when something unexpected happens.”

Chapter 4: Leap - From Planning to Action #

“Innovation is all about quickly turning ideas into action.”

Stop Planning and Start Acting #

“It’s hard to be "best” right away, so commit to rapid and continuous improvements.“

"This lesson was brought to life for us in a story from the insightful book Art & Fear. A clever ceramics instructor divided his pottery class into two groups during the first session. One half of the students, he announced, would be graded on quality as represented by a single ceramic piece due at the end of the class, a culmination of all they had learned. The other half of the class he would grade based on a quantity. For example, fifty pounds of finished work would earn them an A. Throughout the course, the "quality” students tunneled their energy into meticulously crafting the perfect ceramic piece, while the “quantity” students threw pots nonstop in every session. And although it was counter-intuitive to his students, you can guess how his experiment came out: at the end of the course, the best pieces all came from students whose goal was quantity, the ones who spent the most time actually practicing their craft.“

Action Catalysts #

  1. Get help
  2. Create peer pressure
  3. Gather an audience
  4. Do a bad job
  5. Lower the stakes

Experiment to Learn #

"The more you invest in your prototype and the closer to "final” it is, the harder it is to let go of a concept that’s not working.“

Tips for Quick Videos #

  1. Work from a script
  2. Use voiceovers as a shortcut
  3. Get organized with a shot list (get a variety of shots)
  4. Pay attention to lighting and sound
  5. Be mindful of visual rhythm and pacing (mix up camera angles and styles)

Chapter 5: Seek - From Duty to Passion #

"Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, an expert in the field of positive psychology, calls "flows” - that creative state in which time seems to slip away and you are completely immersed in an activity for its own sake.“

"Jim Collins, author of bestselling business books Built to Last and Good to Great… began by drawing a Venn diagram of three overlapping circles in the air: "What are you good at?” “What will people pay you to do?” and “What were you born to do?”“

"A Bug Called Jim.” (While an employee at HP, Jim bought a journal and wrote careful observations in it everyday about his own behavior and work practices. From these observations he decided he would be happier as a designer so he quit his job.)

Chapter 6: Team - Creatively Confident Groups #

Care and Feeding of an Innovation Team #

  1. Know Each Others Strengths. Imagine your team as a band of superheroes, each with his or her own special ability and weaknesses (or kryptonite). Divide the work to maximize team effectiveness and draw on each person’s strengths.
  2. Leverage Diversity
  3. Get Personal
  4. Put the “Relationship” Back in “Working Relationship”
  5. Craft Your Team Experience in Advance
  6. Have Fun!

“Be intentional about your workspace. If you want a team of smart, creative people to do extraordinary things, don’t put them in a drab, ordinary space.”

“Use language to shape your culture. To change attitudes and behaviors, it helps to first change the vernacular.”

Chapter 7: Move - Creative Confidence To Go #

Goal: Push yourself to think divergently and creatively
Tool: Mindmaps

Goal: Jump start an ideation session
Tool: Thirty Circles exercise

Goal: Learn from observing human behavior
Tool: Empathy maps

Goal: Encourage and accept constructive feedback
Tool: I Like/ Wish

Goal: Eliminate Hierarchy to Improve Idea Flow
Tool: Nickname Warm-Up (pre-define characters for people to play in a discussion)

Chapter 8: Next - Embrace Creative Confidence #

Experiment with Experiences #

Surround Yourself with a Supportive Network #

Start Designing Your Life #


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