CREATIVE CONFIDENCE BOOK PDF
Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All. PREFACE. This is a book from two brothers who have been close all our lives. As children. A powerful and compelling book by David and Tom Kelley on unleashing the Excerpts from the preface, introduction and chapters available in the full book. Editorial Reviews. Review. “CREATIVE CONFIDENCE is a myth-busting, muscle- building gem of a book. It shatters the false belief that only some people are.
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Praise. “CREATIVE CONFIDENCE is a myth-busting, muscle-building gem of a book. It shatters the false belief that only some people are creative. Then it. Creative Confidence, Tom Kelley & David Kelley This book reveals the secrets IDEO uses to consistently generate and execute on groundbreaking ideas. rediscover their creative confidence—the natural ability to come up with new ideas creativity” through books, interviews and his insanely popular Ted Talk for.
After David founded the design and innovation firm that would become IDEO, Tom helped out there during business school and then rejoined full-time in We have worked together ever since, as the firm has continued to grow: David as CEO and then chairman, Tom in leadership roles that included marketing, business development, and storytelling.
The story of this book begins in April of , when David—the older brother—got a call from his doctor, who uttered one of the scariest, most dreaded words in the medical lexicon: David had been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma—throat cancer—and given a 40 percent chance of surviving the ordeal. As he sat down backstage and switched his cell phone back on, it rang almost immediately. Although he knew there was little he could do to help, he had to get home to see David.
Through the next six months of chemotherapy, radiation, hydration, morphine, and finally surgery, we saw each other almost every day, sometimes talking endlessly and other times passing hours together while speaking barely a word. At the Stanford Cancer Center, we crossed paths with patients who eventually lost their battle with cancer. Everyone we know who has survived cancer says that they look at life differently in its aftermath. Late in the year, as David recovered from surgery, we saw the first real hope of pushing cancer into the background of our lives.
Faced with that joyous possibility, we vowed that if David survived, we would do two things together that involved neither doctors nor hospitals: And second, we would work together side by side on a project that would allow us to share ideas with each other and the world.
The trip was an unforgettable week in Tokyo and Kyoto, exploring the best of modern and ancient Japanese cultures. And the collaborative project was creating the book you now hold in your hands. Why a book about creative confidence? Because we have noticed from thirty years at IDEO that innovation can be both fun and rewarding. But as you look at the sweep of your life and start to think of a legacy that survives beyond it, giving others the opportunity to live up to their creative capacity seems like a worthy purpose.
To reach out to as many people as possible. To give future innovators the opportunity to follow their passions. To help individuals and organizations unleash their full potential—and build their own creative confidence.
If you are like many people, your mind immediately leaps to artistic endeavors like sculpture, drawing, music, or dance. This book is about the opposite of that myth. The truth is, we all have far more creative potential waiting to be tapped. At its core, creative confidence is about believing in your ability to create change in the world around you.
It is the conviction that you can achieve what you set out to do. We think this self-assurance, this belief in your creative capacity, lies at the heart of innovation. Belief in your creative capacity lies at the heart of innovation. Creative confidence is like a muscle—it can be strengthened and nurtured through effort and experience. Our goal is to help build that confidence in you. We think of creativity as using your imagination to create something new in the world.
Creativity comes into play wherever you have the opportunity to generate new ideas, solutions, or approaches. And we believe everyone should have access to that resource.
But the creative endeavors that seemed fanciful or extracurricular a decade ago have now gone mainstream. Today, in every department—from customer service to finance—people have opportunities to experiment with new solutions. No individual executive or division holds a monopoly on new ideas. Most businesses today realize that the key to growth, and even survival, is innovation. One recent IBM survey of more than 1, CEOs reports that creativity is the single most important leadership competency for enterprises facing the complexity of global commerce today.
An Adobe Systems poll of five thousand people on three continents reports that 80 percent of people see unlocking creative potential as key to economic growth. How might we shift that balance? How might we help the other 75 percent unleash their creative potential?
In , David founded the d.
We see this a lot with executives during workshops, or when we have clients in to collaborate side by side with us. Because they are insecure about their abilities in that setting. We know that if we can get individuals to stick with the methodology a while, they will end up doing amazing things. They come up with breakthrough ideas or suggestions and work creatively with a team to develop something truly innovative.
They surprise themselves with the realization that they are a lot more creative than they had thought. That early success shakes up how they see themselves and makes them eager to do more. We just need to help people rediscover what they already have: That combination of thought and action defines creative confidence: We forget that back in kindergarten, we were all creative. We all played and experimented and tried out weird things without fear or shame.
The fear of social rejection is something we learned as we got older. In too many of us it gets blocked. But it can be unblocked. And unblocking that creative spark can have far-reaching implications for yourself, your organization, and your community. We believe that our creative energy is one of our most precious resources. It can help us to find innovative solutions to some of our most intractable problems. We know that anyone can gain creative confidence. We have witnessed it in people from diverse backgrounds and careers.
Everyone—from scientists in their labs to senior managers at Fortune companies—can approach life differently, with a new outlook and a larger tool set.
Here are a few examples of people who have embraced creative confidence: Creative energy is one of our most precious resources. She gathered a volunteer task force of pilots, dispatchers, crew schedulers, and others to prototype procedures following weather-related flight disruptions, leading to a 40 percent faster recovery time.
She had the jury picture themselves at the scene of the incident to imagine what it felt like. And through harnessing their empathy, she won—the first time a jury had ever favored her side of that particular case. Through workshops and networking events, she is spreading her new perspective on organizational change to other leaders and aspiring entrepreneurs. Instead of teaching discrete subjects, she created projects that covered the same topics but got students to step away from their desks and think more critically.
Their test scores improved, but more important, parents noticed their children were more engaged and inquisitive.
The world needs more creative policy makers, office managers, and real estate agents. Creative confidence can inspire whatever work you already do—because you gain a new tool to enhance your problem-solving practices without having to abandon any of your existing techniques. As legendary psychologist and Stanford professor Albert Bandura has shown, our belief systems affect our actions, goals, and perception.
Individuals who come to believe that they can effect change are more likely to accomplish what they set out to do. Our practical experience in the world of innovation and creative confidence aligns closely with his findings.
When people transcend the fears that block their creativity, all sorts of new possibilities emerge. Instead of being paralyzed by the prospect of failure, they see every experience as an opportunity they can learn from. The need for control keeps some people stuck at the planning stage of a project. With creative confidence, they become comfortable with uncertainty and are able to leap into action. Instead of resigning themselves to the status quo, or what others have told them to do, they are freed to speak their mind and challenge existing ways of doing things.
They act with greater courage, and have more persistence in tackling obstacles. We believe this book will help you overcome the mental blocks that hold back your creativity. Chapter by chapter, we will give you tools that empower you to pursue new ideas with confidence. The stories, methods, and practices that we will share draw on decades of collaboration with creative thinkers everywhere, and we believe they will help you too.
Confronted with their newfound creativity, people sometimes confide in us that their mother was a dancer, or their father was an architect. They seem to be rationalizing their spark of creative energy, as if they are searching for concrete evidence. Creative confidence is a way of seeing that potential and your place in the world more clearly, unclouded by anxiety and doubt.
Together, we can all make the world a better place. This book has two authors, so you will see the first person plural a lot. His multimillion-dollar magnetic resonance imaging MRI systems peer painlessly inside the human body in ways that would have been considered magic just a generation ago. A few years back, Doug wrapped up a project on an MRI machine that he had spent two and a half years working on. Standing next to his new machine, Doug talked with the technician who was operating it that day.
Doug was prepared to come away patting himself on the back for a job well done. But then the technician asked him to step out into the hall for a moment because a patient needed to get a scan. The girl started to sniffle, and Doug himself got choked up telling us her story. As the family passed by, Doug could hear their hushed conversation: As many as 80 percent of pediatric patients have to be sedated.
When Doug witnessed the anxiety and fear his machine caused among the most vulnerable patients, the experience triggered a personal crisis for him that forever changed his perspective. Rather than an elegant, sleek piece of technology, worthy of accolades and admiration, he now saw that—through the eyes of a young child—the MRI looked more like a big scary machine you have to go inside.
Pride in his design was replaced with feelings of failure for letting down the very patients he was trying to help. Doug could have quit his job, or simply resigned himself to the situation and moved on. He returned home and told his wife that he had to make a change. So Doug sought advice on this deep personal and professional challenge from friends and colleagues. Searching for a fresh perspective and a different approach to his work, Doug flew to California for a weeklong workshop.
The workshop offered Doug new tools that ignited his creative confidence: He learned about a human-centered approach to design and innovation. He observed and talked to users of existing products and services to better understand consumer needs. He collaborated with managers from other companies and industries on crude prototypes of designs to meet those needs.
Gaining new perspectives from them, he continued to experiment and iterate his concepts in class, building on the ideas of others. At the end of the week, the cross-pollination of ideas made him feel more creative and more hopeful than he had when he left home.
Going through the human-centered design process with people in diverse industries and roles—from management to human resources to finance—struck a chord in him. He returned to Milwaukee knowing what he wanted to do. So he focused on redesigning the experience. He started by observing and gaining empathy for young children at a day care center. He talked to child life specialists to understand what pediatric patients went through.
Making no changes to the complex technology inside the scanner, Doug and his ad hoc team applied colorful decals to the outside of the machine and to every surface in the room, covering the floor, ceilings, walls, and all of the equipment. They also created a script for machine operators so they could lead their young patients through the adventure. One of the prototypes is a pirate ship worthy of an amusement park ride.
The operator tells kids that they will be sailing inside the pirate ship and they have to stay completely still while on the boat. In another story, the MRI is a cylindrical spaceship transporting the patient into a space adventure. The hospital and GE were happy too because less need for anesthesiologists meant more patients could get scanned each day.
Meanwhile, patient satisfaction scores went up 90 percent. Would it be an exaggeration to say that, in the process, Doug also helped change the world a bit? Ask one of those young patients or their parents. They already have the answer. A creative mindset can be a powerful force for looking beyond the status quo. People who use the creative techniques we outline are better able to apply their imagination to painting a picture of the future. They believe they have the ability to improve on existing ideas and positively impact the world around them, whether at work or in their personal lives.
While competitors focused on the never-ending battle surrounding technical specifications like scanning speed, resolution, etc. In our experience, approaching challenges from a human perspective can yield some of the richest opportunities for change. In every innovation program we have been involved with, there are always three factors to balance, represented by the three overlapping circles in the diagram below: Finding the sweet spot of feasibility, viability, and desirability.
The Importance of Creative Confidence, UB’s Joyce Marter Quoted in Career Bliss
In the early days of our work in Silicon Valley, this is where our clients always started. A new technology—if it truly works—can be extremely valuable, and can provide the basis for a successful new company or a new line of business. Carbon fiber aircraft components, multi-touch interactive displays, and minimally invasive surgical tools all revolutionized their industries. But cool technology alone is not enough.
The second key element is economic viability, or what we sometimes refer to as business factors. Not only does the technology need to work, but it also needs to be produced and distributed in an economically viable way. It needs to fit into a business model that will allow the enterprise to thrive. When we were growing up in the s, Popular Science magazine suggested that twenty-first-century families would have their own personal helicopter in the backyard. So far, no one has come up with a clever business model to make helicopters affordable for ordinary people.
The business factors on that concept just never lined up—and maybe never will. Even in nonprofit organizations, business factors can be critical. If you want to launch a program to increase the availability of safe drinking water in India or to build sanitation systems in Ghana, you need to find a way for it to pay for and sustain itself in the long run. Cool technology alone is not enough. The third element involves people, and is sometimes referred to as human factors.
But technical factors are well taught in science and engineering programs around the world, and companies everywhere focus energy on the business factors. So we believe that human factors may offer some of the best opportunities for innovation, which is why we always start there. Doug worked to understand how young children perceive MRI machines and what makes them feel safe when introduced to a new experience. Being human centered is at the core of our innovation process.
Deep empathy for people makes our observations powerful sources of inspiration. We aim to understand why people do what they currently do, with the goal of understanding what they might do in the future. And as a result, we uncover insights and opportunities for truly creative solutions. We believe successful innovations rely on some element of human-centered design research while balancing the two other elements.
Seeking that sweet spot of feasibility, viability, and desirability as you take into account the real needs and desires of your customers is part of what we at IDEO and the d.
In our experience, an innovation or new idea may cycle through many iterations before the process is complete. We adapt and evolve our methodologies continuously, so please feel free to make your own variations, as well, fashioning innovation techniques that fit your unique circumstances. Go out in the world and proactively seek experiences that will spark creative thinking.
Interact with experts, immerse yourself in unfamiliar environments, and role-play customer scenarios. Inspiration is fueled by a deliberate, planned course of action. To inspire human-centered innovation, empathy is our reliable, go- to resource.
We find that connecting with the needs, desires, and motivations of real people helps to inspire and provoke fresh ideas. We shadow and do interviews with a variety of people out in the field. Or, if we are redesigning a kitchen tool like a can opener, we may observe how elderly people use it to look for points of frustration or opportunities for improvement.
We look to other industries to see how relevant challenges are addressed. For instance, we may draw parallels between customer service at a restaurant and the patient experience at a hospital in order to improve patient satisfaction. We move from concrete observations and individual stories to more abstract truths that span across groups of people.
During synthesis, we strive to see where the fertile ground is. We reframe the problem and choose where to focus our energy. We generate countless ideas and consider many divergent options. The most promising ones are advanced in iterative rounds of rapid prototypes—early, rough representations of ideas that are concrete enough for people to react to.
The key is to be quick and dirty—exploring a range of ideas without becoming too invested in only one. These experiential learning loops help to develop existing concepts and spur new ones. Based on feedback from end users and other stakeholders, we adapt, iterate, and pivot our way to human-centered, compelling, workable solutions. Experimentation can include everything from crafting hundreds of physical models for delivering transdermal vaccines to using driving simulators for testing new vehicle systems to acting out the check-in experience at a hotel lobby.
Of course, rollouts can vary wildly depending on which elements of an experience or product are involved. Going live with a new online learning platform is very different from offering a new banking service. The implementation phase can have many rounds. More and more companies in every industry are beginning to launch new products, services, or businesses in order to learn. They live in beta, and quickly iterate through new in-market loops that further refine their offering. For example, some retailers launch pop-up stores as a way to test demand in new cities.
And Boston-based startup Clover Food Lab began with a single food truck at MIT to gauge the market for its sustainable vegetarian food before the company committed to opening brick-and-mortar restaurant locations. Design thinking is a methodology. Using it, we can address a wide variety of personal, social, and business challenges in creative new ways. Design thinking relies on the natural—and coachable—human ability to be intuitive, to recognize patterns, and to construct ideas that are emotionally meaningful as well as functional.
But an over-reliance on the rational and the analytical can be just as risky. When you need to achieve a breakthrough innovation or make a creative leap, this methodology can help you dive into the problem and find new insights.
IDEO uses this kind of thinking to help organizations in the public and private sectors innovate and grow. We help clients envision what their new or existing operations might look like in the future—and build road maps for getting there. Beyond the product development work Tom described in The Art of Innovation, we now have the opportunity to create new companies and brands, working with clients all over the world to help them launch new products, services, spaces, and interactive experiences.
While we continue to work on products from toys to ATM machines, these days we are just as likely to create a digital toolkit to help consumers sign up for health care insurance or design a better education system for the country of Peru. In the last several years, we have worked directly with clients to help them embed innovation into the fabric of their enterprises. Prior to that, David had taught only students in the design division at the School of Engineering who already identified themselves as creative.
It was in these classrooms that David and his colleagues could see what unlocking creativity really looked like.
Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All Description
Some of the students went beyond just using the tools and embraced the philosophy of design thinking, and in doing so, they developed a new mental outlook, a new self-image, and a new sense of empowerment. Students began visiting him during office hours—sometimes months after the class was over—to tell him that they had started to see themselves as creative individuals for the first time.
That they could apply creativity to any challenge. Their eyes would light up with excitement, with a sense of opportunity, of possibility. Sometimes they cried. David came up with a name for the transformation he was observing: These students he talked with were engaged and excited in a way that made it clear something in them had changed—permanently. It was the sort of profound impact educators live for. Along with former student George Kembel now executive director of the d.
He envisioned a place in the university where students from different backgrounds could come to nurture their creative talents and apply their newfound skills to tough challenges. David pointed out that Stanford—like all world-class universities—had Nobel-laureate-quality researchers drilling deeper into their own fields of knowledge.
Maybe some solutions will be found by putting that scientist into a room with a businessperson, and a lawyer, and an engineer, and others. The d. Students from every graduate school at Stanford come to take classes at the d. Currently more than seven hundred students attend courses at the d.
Project-based classes are team taught by faculty members from all over the university and by industry practitioners. Students learn by doing and tackle real-world challenges, usually in multidisciplinary teams. Beyond just graduate students, executives from all over the world attend workshops, and the K Lab works with children and educators more than five hundred last year to help spread confidence in their creative abilities.
They leap for the finish line and then start defending their answers. They are anxious to provide an answer and move on. In routine problem-solving situations, where there is a single right answer, that method is very efficient, and sometimes quite appropriate.
Creative thinkers, however, confronted with the same open-ended question, are careful not to rush to judgment. So David and the d. After the group has been guided through the design process in a collaborative environment, dozens of ideas emerge: Then professors ask class members if any of the new solutions they arrived at were better than their initial ones. Usually, the answer is yes. One prerequisite for achieving creative confidence is the belief that your innovation skills and capabilities are not set in stone.
You have to believe that learning and growth are possible. To fully appreciate the growth mindset, it helps to contrast it with its all-too-familiar evil twin, the fixed mindset. Consciously or unconsciously, people with a fixed mindset have the deep-seated belief that everyone is born with only a certain amount of intelligence and a certain amount of talent. If invited on a journey to creative confidence, people with a fixed mindset will prefer to stay behind in their comfort zone, afraid that the limits of their capabilities will be revealed to others.
Dweck explored the self-limiting nature of a fixed mindset in studying the behavior of freshman students at the University of Hong Kong. Since all classes and exams at the university are in English, incoming students who struggle with the English language are at a distinct disadvantage. But those with the fixed mindset were not very interested. A growth mindset, on the other hand, is a passport to new adventures.
When you open your mind to the possibility that your capabilities are unlimited and unknown, you already have your running shoes on and are ready to race forward. In reality, we all have a little of both mindsets. Sometimes the fixed mindset whispers in one ear: While others may unconsciously go with the default option, design thinkers make everything a conscious and original choice: When they look around the world, they see opportunities to do things better and have a desire to change them.
Everything in modern society is the result of a collection of decisions made by someone. When you unleash your creative confidence, you start to see new ways to improve on the status quo—from how you throw a dinner party to how you run a meeting. And once you become aware of those opportunities, you have to start seizing them. David met Steve back in when we designed the first Apple mouse.
Steve never took the path of least resistance. No detail was too small to escape his attention. He just kept raising the bar, even when it seemed unreasonable. But we would try, and we would get three-quarters of the way there, which was always farther than we would have gotten by ourselves.
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Once you start creating things, you realize that everything has intention behind it. And so began our project of helping Steve with the engineering design of his cube-shaped NeXT computer. During that intense project, Steve often called David at home in the middle of the night in the era before e-mail and texting to insist that we make some change. One night, the call was about whether the plating on some screw on the inside of the cast magnesium cube should be cadmium or nickel.
Steve had a deep sense of creative confidence. He believed—he knew—that you can achieve audacious goals if you have the courage and perseverance to pursue them.
And we know that as you gain creative confidence going forward, you will have the chance to make your own dent in the universe. Start with a growth mindset, the deep-seated belief that your true potential is still unknown. That you are not limited to only what you have been able to do before. To do so, you will need to act, and to experience your own creativity firsthand.
But to act, most of us must first overcome the fears that have blocked our creativity in the past. In the next room, a woman in a hockey mask and leather gloves stands warily behind a one-way mirror, watching them. Her heart is pounding.
She has been terrified of snakes for as long as she can remember. Gardening and hiking have been out of the question, lest a garter snake slither across her path. Yet here she is, about to walk into the next room and touch the snake of her nightmares.
How does she do it? How does she move from fear to courage? The mastermind behind her phobia cure—leading the way for thousands more like her—is psychologist Albert Bandura.
A Stanford researcher and professor, he has had a profound impact on the world of social learning and has been called the greatest living psychologist. Only Sigmund Freud, B. Skinner, and Jean Piaget ranked higher on a published list of eminent twentieth-century psychologists. Bandura, now a professor emeritus at age eighty-seven, still works from his office at Stanford.
One day we got to talking about how to cure snake phobias. Basically it takes a lot of patience and small incremental steps, Bandura told us, but he and his colleagues could sometimes cure a phobia that has lasted a lifetime in less than a day.
But contrary to their beliefs, the snake just dangles lazily without choking or constricting at all. And so it continues. Further along, Bandura asks them to stand at the open door of the room with the snake inside. If that step is too scary, he offers to stand with them at the door.
Many small steps later, eventually they are right there next to the snake. By the end of the session, people touch the snake. And just like that, their phobia is gone. When Bandura began using this technique, he checked back with people months later and found that the phobia stayed gone, too.
One woman even recounted a dream about a boa constrictor that helped her wash the dishes, instead of terrorizing her like the snakes in the nightmares she used to have. It incorporates psychology tools like vicarious learning, social persuasion, and graduated tasks. Along the way, it helps people confront a major fear and dispel it one small, manageable step at a time.
This discovery—that guided mastery can cure a lifelong phobia in a short time—was a big deal. But Bandura discovered something even more meaningful during his follow-up interviews with the former phobics. The interviews brought to light some surprising side effects. People mentioned other changes in their lives, changes seemingly unrelated to their phobias: The dramatic experience of overcoming a phobia that had plagued them for decades—a phobia they had expected to live with for the rest of their lives—had altered their belief system about their own ability to change.
It had altered their belief in what they could accomplish. Ultimately, it transformed their lives. This newfound courage, exhibited by the same people who once had to wear hockey masks to get near a snake, led Bandura to pivot toward a new line of research: And the experience can have a powerful effect on the rest of their lives.
The state of mind Bandura calls self-efficacy is closely related to what we think of as creative confidence. People who have creative confidence make better choices, set off more easily in new directions, and are better able to find solutions to seemingly intractable problems.
They see new possibilities and collaborate with others to improve the situations around them. And they approach challenges with newfound courage. But to gain this creative, empowered mindset, sometimes you have to touch the snake. In our experience, one of the scariest snakes in the room is the fear of failure, which manifests itself in such ways as fear of being judged, fear of getting started, fear of the unknown.
And while much has been said about fear of failure, it still is the single biggest obstacle people face to creative success. His research has found that creative people simply do more experiments. They take more shots at the goal. That is the surprising, compelling mathematics of innovation: Take Thomas Edison, for example. Edison, one of the most famous and prolific inventors in history, had failure baked into his creative process. He understood that an experiment ending in failure is not a failed experiment—as long as constructive learning is gained.
He invented the incandescent lightbulb, but only after the lessons of a thousand unsuccessful attempts. Because the faster you find weaknesses during an innovation cycle, the faster you can improve what needs fixing. We grew up in Ohio, home of aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright. But the focus on that accomplishment overlooks the hundreds of experiments and failed flight trials in the years that led up to that first successful flight.
In fact, some reports suggest that the Wright brothers picked Kitty Hawk in part because the remote Outer Banks location would draw less media attention during their experiments. The surprising, compelling mathematics of innovation: Edison and the Wright brothers may seem like ancient history, but the tradition of learning from enlightened trial and error is still very much alive today. When Steelcase decided to reinvent the traditional classroom chair—eclipsing that uncomfortable wooden version with the writing surface rigidly attached to the chair arm—they worked with our design team to build over two hundred prototypes in all shapes and sizes.
Early on, they experimented with small paper-and-Scotch-tape models. Later in the project, they constructed plywood components, attaching them to pieces of existing chairs.
They carved shapes out of foam and fabricated parts on 3D printers to get a sense of shape and size. They prototyped mechanisms in steel. And as release to manufacturing approached, they built sophisticated full-size models that looked exactly like the real thing. All that relentless experimentation—and the associated learning—paid off. The Node chair replaced the rigidity of its predecessors with a comfortable swivel seat, an adjustable work surface, casters for maneuverability, and a tripod base to hold backpacks.
Launched in , Node chairs are already in use at eight hundred schools and universities around the world. Neither Edison nor the Wright brothers nor modern-day innovators like the design team on the Node chair were defensive or embarrassed about their method of trial and error. What would have been nearly impossible to accomplish in one giant leap became manageable in small steps, with the guidance of someone knowledgeable in the field. In a similar way, we use a step-by-step progression to help people discover and experience the tools and methodologies of design thinking, gradually increasing the level of challenge to help individuals transcend the fear of failure that blocks their best ideas.
These small successes are intrinsically rewarding and help people to go on to the next level. We may jump in with some help or a small nudge, but mostly we let them figure out solutions themselves.
Building confidence through experience encourages more creative action in the future, which further bolsters confidence. For this reason, we frequently ask students and team members to complete multiple quick design projects rather than one big project, to maximize the number of learning cycles. At the d. We believe the lessons learned from failures may make us smarter—even stronger. So most of us naturally try to avoid failure at all costs. Failure is hard, even painful. We give students a chance to fail as soon as possible, in order to maximize the learning time that follows.
Instead of long lectures followed by exercises, most of our classes at the d. He began with something more basic: Then repeat. In learning to juggle, the angst comes from failure—from having the ball fall to the floor.
So with step one, Cass aims to numb aspiring jugglers to that. Having the ball fall to the floor becomes more normal than the ball not falling to the floor.
After we address our fear of failure, juggling becomes a lot easier. The two of us were skeptical at first, but with the help of his simple approach, we really did learn to juggle. Fear of failure holds us back from learning all sorts of new skills, from taking on risks, and from tackling new challenges.
Creative confidence asks that we overcome that fear. You know you are going to drop the ball, make mistakes, and go in a wrong direction or two. And in doing so, you are able to remain confident that you are moving forward despite the setbacks. Here are a few ways of gaining empathy that they suggest, adapted for use in a business context. The techniques on the list start out easy and become increasingly challenging.
Pay attention as potential customers share feedback, air their grievances, and ask questions. Go through the experience of interacting with customer service, pretending to be a customer. Notice how your problem is handled, and how you feel along the way. Try mapping out the individual steps in the process and then graph the ups and downs of your mood or satisfaction. If you make a physical product, ask a repair person to tell you about what goes wrong with it.
Take some reading material and a pair of headphones to a retail space or an industry conference or, if your customers are internal, an area where people tend to gather. How are they interacting with your product or service? What can you glean from their body language that indicates their level of engagement or interest? Think of a few open-ended questions about your product or service. Go to a place where your customers spend time, and find someone you are comfortable approaching.
If the person refuses, no problem, just try someone else. Press for more detail with every question. Sometimes their responses will surprise you and point you toward new opportunities. Author, futurist, and game designer Jane McGonigal talked to us recently about how video gaming can spark its own form of creative confidence. Jane makes a convincing case that harnessing the power of video games can have a major impact on life in the real world.
In the euphoria of an epic win, gamers are shocked to discover the extent of their capabilities. As you move from level to level, success can flip your mindset to a state of creative confidence. Tom witnessed urgent optimism in action one Christmas morning when his teenage son Sean opened up a Tony Hawk skateboard video game and started trying it out.
In addition to the usual on-screen action, the game comes with a controller that looks exactly like a real skateboard—minus the wheels. So there was Sean, balancing on a full-sized skateboard in the family room, surrounded by three generations of Kelleys.
Potentially more embarrassing, Sean himself fell off the skateboard controller several times, nearly crashing through the glass coffee table beside him on the floor. But neither the on-screen calamities nor the occasional loss of balance in the physical world fazed Sean one bit. Sean knew that he was on a path to learning. In fact, since reading about a video game is not much help, he was on essentially the only path available to gaining expertise.
They work harder, persist longer, and maintain their urgent optimism when they believe victory is just around the corner. But even after you overcome your initial fear of failure and gain creative confidence, you need to continue stretching yourself.
Like a muscle, your creative abilities will grow and strengthen with practice. Continuing to exercise them will keep them in shape. All innovators need to make creative leaps: What need should you focus on? Which idea do you go with? What should you prototype?
That is where experience and intuition come in. In other words, relentless practice creates a database of experience that you can draw upon to make more enlightened choices.
A twenty-year veteran of the auto industry who works several years on each new vehicle before it goes to market might have experienced far fewer cycles than a software developer working just two years on mobile apps that ship every couple of months.
Once you have gone through enough rapid innovation cycles, you will gain familiarity with process and confidence in your ability to assess new ideas. And that confidence results in reduced anxiety in the face of ambiguity when you are bringing new ideas into the world. Permission to fail comes more easily in some settings than others. Venture capitalist Randy Komisar says that what distinguishes pockets of entrepreneurship like Silicon Valley is not their successes but the way they deal with failure.
Research with software developers in the United States and Europe showed that the transition from a stable corporate job to the uncertainty of an early startup was one of the scariest moments in the evolution of a new venture. Many never managed to take that leap of faith. For lots of fledgling entrepreneurs, leaving the comfort and security of a salaried job stopped them in their tracks.
We helped give entrepreneurs a support network and resources so they could focus their efforts on what they do best. They also get connected to a network of experienced advisors. Quitting your day job remains a scary step, but maintaining your current income for a year makes it easier to pursue new-to-the-world ideas.
Within large companies, CEOs and executives have started to make similar efforts to reduce perceived risks and show their commitment to innovation initiatives. Overseen by vice president of strategy and innovation Stephen Dull, the fund helps bootstrap innovative ideas at their earliest stages.
It allows business unit managers to take entrepreneurial risks while meeting all the performance targets with their current product offerings.
We all need the latitude to try out new ideas. Look for ways to grant yourself creative license, or give yourself the equivalent of a get-out-of-jail-free card. Label your next new idea an experiment, and let everyone know that you are just testing it out. You have to figure out what went wrong and what to do better next time. Acknowledging mistakes is also important for moving on. In doing so, you not only sidestep the psychological pitfalls of cover-up, rationalization, and guilt; you may also find that you enhance your own brand through your honesty, candor, and humility.
Bessemer Venture Partners is a well-respected, hundred-year-old venture capital firm that has gotten in on the ground floor of some stellar growth companies.
The Forbes Midas List ranks Cowan among the top venture capitalists in the world for turning startup investments into gold. Could owning up to his failures have cleared the path for his out-sized success? Look around, and you will see other signs of this shift in thinking.
Failure conferences are cropping up in Silicon Valley and elsewhere. She says that smart people accustomed to promoting their successes find it very challenging. Now more aware and open about her early shortcomings, Tina is not held back by them. Most children are naturally daring. They explore new games, meet new people, try new things, and let their imaginations run wild. In our family, that lack of fear manifested itself as a do-it-yourself attitude.
Instead you walked over to the washer, took it apart, and tried to fix it. That was part of the deal—in our house you were believed to be capable of fixing things.
Of course, sometimes home improvement jobs went awry. Once, we disassembled the family piano to see how it worked. What was once a musical instrument became more like a series of art objects.
Artistic license was tolerated as well. We just knew that it was okay for us to try experiments that sometimes succeeded and sometimes failed. That we could keep creating, keep tinkering, and trust that something interesting would result if we just stuck with it. One day, David and Brian were in art class, sitting at a table with half a dozen classmates.
Brian was working on a sculpture, making a horse out of the clay that the teacher kept under the sink. Dejected, he wadded up the clay horse and threw it back in the bin.
David never saw Brian attempt a creative project again. How often does something like that happen in childhood? Rather than be judged, they simply withdrew. They stopped thinking of themselves as creative at all.
When a child loses confidence in his or her creativity, the impact can be profound. People start to separate the world into those who are creative and those who are not. They come to see these categories as fixed, forgetting that they too once loved to draw and tell imaginative stories. Too often they opt out of being creative. As schools cut funding for the arts and high-stakes testing becomes more pervasive, creativity itself is devalued, compared to traditional core subjects like math and science.
Those subjects emphasize ways of thinking and problem solving that have a clear-cut single right answer, while many real-world twenty-first-century challenges require more open-minded approaches. Well-meaning teachers and parents play a part when counseling young people toward conventional professions, sending the subtle message that occupations involving creativity are too risky and out of the mainstream.
We both know what that feels like. Our guidance counselors told us when we were graduating from high school that we should stay near Akron, Ohio, and work for the local tire companies.
Had we taken their advice, there would be no IDEO or d. Education expert Sir Ken Robinson claims that traditional schooling destroys creativity. Instead, it is stifling the individual talents and abilities of too many students and killing their motivation to learn.
At the right age, a single cutting remark is sometimes enough to bring our creative pursuits to a standstill. Fortunately, many of us are resilient enough to try again. Sir Ken told us a memorable story about talent that almost went to waste. He was born in Liverpool and made a discovery one day while talking to fellow Liverpudlian Paul McCartney.
Apparently, the legendary singer-songwriter had not done especially well in his musical studies. His high school music teacher had neither given McCartney good marks nor identified any particular musical talent in him.
George Harrison had the same teacher and had likewise failed to attract any positive attention in music class. Luckily for music fans, McCartney and his friends John, George, and Ringo found encouragement elsewhere. And of course, the Beatles became one of the most successful and beloved groups of all time.
Much later, having achieved fame and fortune and been knighted by the queen, Sir Paul McCartney felt the noblesse oblige to help others get the creative chance he nearly missed. After the Liverpool Institute closed, putting his music teacher—and all the other faculty and staff—out of a job, McCartney helped restore the dilapidated nineteenth-century school building from the ground up.
Together with educator Mark Featherstone-Witty, he formed the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, a thriving creative environment that helps young people with emerging talent build practical skills in music, acting, and dance. Instead of focusing on their work and feeling good about what they produce, they get sidetracked worrying about what other people think. Once that insecurity takes hold, it can create a vicious circle.
So whether you work alone or with a team, try hard to disarm it at the earliest opportunity. Pay attention to signs that someone around you is feeling undervalued or has lost his or her self-confidence. Have that difficult conversation with the people around you to air out the issue.
The conversation may be uncomfortable and painful but is often worthwhile in the long run. You see the transformation in the way they dress and the way they act around people they see as authority figures. As they become more confident, they eventually adopt a bring-your-whole-self-to-work attitude and allow themselves to be vulnerable in a creative context. This vulnerability and ability to trust the people around you can help to overcome so many of the barriers to creative thinking and constructive behavior.
Our experience mirrors current research on resilience. Resilient people, in addition to being resourceful problem solvers, are more likely to seek help, have strong social support, and be better connected with colleagues, family, and friends.
Resilience is often thought of as a solo effort—the lone hero who falls and rises up again to do battle. In reality, however, reaching out to others is usually a strategy for success. We need others to help us bounce back from adversity and hardship. Everyone acknowledges that certain skills, like playing the piano, take years of training.
In reality, drawing is a skill that you can learn and improve through practice with a little guidance. A sketch is often worth a thousand words. Unfortunately, most people shy away from the opportunity to sketch out their idea on the board. Or when they do, they preface their efforts with a disclaimer about their lack of drawing ability. Dan helps people get over their hesitation to grasp the marker pen and approach the whiteboard by lowering the barrier. He does this by dissociating artistic drawing from drawing for communication.
Next, he explains drawing fundamentals—such as size, position, and direction—that can seem comically simple yet still go underused. On the topic of size, for example, if you make one object bigger than another, your audience will understand that this object is either closer or—you guessed it—larger.
And so it goes. With a focus on drawing for communication—not art—Dan can amp up your sketching skills in a matter of minutes. For example, Dan has three ways of drawing people as he demonstrates for us below , depending on what you want to get across: Stick figures are very simple and convey mood or emotion—especially if you make the head one third the total size of the person, so you have more room for showing expression; 2.
Block figures add a rectangular torso and are good for showing motion or different body postures; 3. He just teaches you how to make better use of the simple drawing skills you already have.
Most of us accept that when we are learning a new sport like skiing, we will fall down, and other skiers on the slopes will see us with our faces planted in the snow. But when it comes to creative work, we tend to freeze up. And not just when we are novices. With people who draw well, perfectionism can be every bit as crippling as a lack of confidence in nondrawers.
We recently talked with two employees at IDEO from very different backgrounds. Yet both had the same fear of approaching the whiteboard in a business meeting. One was an industrial design intern with sophisticated drawing skills who had studied at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. One was hemmed in by timidity, the other by perfectionism. But the end result was the same.
Each preferred to sit in his chair rather than risk being critiqued by his peers. In other words, there are barriers on both ends of the skill distribution curve. As a result, good ideas go unexpressed, talent goes untapped, and solutions go undiscovered. We can all benefit from a nudge toward creative confidence. Non-artists need reassurance—and maybe a drawing lesson or two—so that they can express themselves in rough sketches when a picture is more powerful than words.
And the artists need encouragement to set their perfectionism aside to draw a few simple lines that communicate the essence of their idea. Both need the kind of supportive culture that ignores the quality of their sketches and focuses on the quality of their ideas. Wherever you fall on the artistic skill curve, half the battle is to resist judging yourself. Walk up to a whiteboard in an empty room and draw an idea, just for practice.
Then draw it again. That first time is scary for most children. At first, they may need lots of support and encouragement just to get on the stairs. Some climb halfway up, get scared again, and climb back down.
And then the magic happens: The biggest hurdle is going down the slide that first time. They are excited by their new ability, by the new tool in their toolbox. And yet, in spite of all those successful, joyful experiences from the past, we cling to our fears whenever we encounter unfamiliar territory. What matters most in the end, though, is this: Neil Pasricha. Never Split the Difference. Chris Voss. The Design of Everyday Things.
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To do so, you will need to act, and to experience your own creativity firsthand. Richard H. The idea of engaging with users face to face initially made Akshay more than a little uneasy. She had lost all three of her newborn children, each a low-birth-weight baby too small to keep itself warm.