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UX14 - Nurturing team and personal creativity (Marc Rettig)

October 10, 2014

UX14 - Nurturing team and personal creativity (Marc Rettig)

The prolific English writer and comedian John Cleese has said, “Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating.”

Our training as UX professionals gives us many ways to conduct research into the aspects of life we seek to serve, and many ways to prototype and evolve concepts into reality. But our training often leaves us empty-handed when it comes to a key aspect of our work: imagining what could be. That hinge-point between research and making, that moment of conception, is critical. Some of us experience an “ah-ha” of revelation, some of us are left feeling insecure about whether we’ve chosen “the best way.”

This workshop will proceed in two chapters. In the first, we will experience and discuss an approach for teams who want a better source of ideas than “smart people around a table.” In the second chapter, Marc will facilitate a series of activities to help you explore your personal creative barriers, fears, patterns, and possibilities. In closing, we will discuss how we can apply practices of “open creativity” within the constraints of organizational culture and tight deadlines.


October 10, 2014

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  1. These  slides  were  first  presented  at  UX  India  2014,  in

     Bangalore  India.  For  more   informa?on,  see  h@p://www.2014.ux-­‐india.org/     Most  of  these  slides  do  not  have  speaker’s  notes,  and  will  make  far  more  sense  to  people   who  a@ended  the  workshop  than  to  those  who  didn’t.  Perhaps  in  the  future  I  can  make  a   more  stranger-­‐friendly  version.  In  the  mean?me,  my  thanks  to  those  who  a@ended,  and   all  the  best  to  you  in  your  crea?ve  journeys.       To  contact  the  author,  email  marc@fitassociates.com     Cover  art  by  Hannah  du  Plessis  of  Fit  Associates               This  work  is  licensed  under  the  Crea?ve  Commons  A@ribu?on-­‐NonCommercial  4.0  Interna?onal  License.   To  view  a  copy  of  this  license,  visit  h@p://crea?vecommons.org/licenses/by-­‐nc/4.0/.  
  2. Principal Professor, Design for Social Innovation Adjunct Professor Fit Associates

    School of Visual Arts Carnegie Mellon School of Design marc@fitassociates.com @mrettig
  3. Point of view As it began, and at its best,

    “User Experience” is very human. Therefore, it is complex. “Planning and decision-making” is an inadequate approach. And it requires heart. So we are going to talk about creativity.
  4. Point of view This workshop is about human experience, not

    technology. In particular, it is about the human experience of creating together – the root of our work, and the source of our professional value.
  5. I was farm kid. I became a student of anthropology,

    linguistics, and computing. NYU, Linguistic String Project, Summer Institute of Linguistics I became a software systems guy. Brooklyn Gas, Merrill Lynch, startups, Andersen Consulting Accenture I became a practitioner and teacher of design. Interaction design, user experience, strategic design; startups, agencies, consulting firms; Institute of Design @ IIT, Carnegie Mellon University, SVA I became a professional consultant. Independent consulting, agencies, Fit Associates since 2005 I am becoming a facilitator and guide.
  6. We do this through… Short or long-term project work Training

    and capacity development Working alongside your team: moving a difficult situation quickly forward through facilitated studios, or collaborating through an extended program of exploration and transformation Courses and learn-by-doing programs: equipping teams with the methods of system sensing, design, facilitating co- creation, and managing emergence We help teams, companies, and institutions create effectively in complex social situations.
  7. Our topic How does really wonderful stuff get started? Where

    does it come from? How can we get more of it? How can we do work that deeply satisfies us, down in the place where your core purpose and identity live? The same for your team. And for your company.
  8. 10 | Foundations of Design for Social Innovation | Course

    Syllabus | August 2013 1.  The creative process versus “corporate” practice 2. Creative source, creative culture 3. Stories about the conditions for creativity, and how to make them Three parts
  9. What comes to mind? Do you have a definition? An

    example of a creative person or team that inspires you? What is creativity?
  10. This is a reflection workshop, not a how-to workshop. The

    topic is messy, not well understood. I don’t know you or your situation. I can’t tell you all personally what you need to do to work creatively, and I can’t tell you how to improve the creativity in your specific organization. But I can show you a lot of things, and we can have a good conversation about them. Your job today is to use that to make notes and plans for yourself. By the end of the workshop, I ask that you have some specific things you intend to do, starting in the next few days, for yourself, your team, your organization. I can’t tell you how
  11. 14 | Foundations of Design for Social Innovation | Course

    Syllabus | August 2013 Hugh Dubberly dubberly.com
  12. 15 | Foundations of Design for Social Innovation | Course

    Syllabus | August 2013 http://www.dubberly.com/concept-maps
  13. through conversations with context and people with attention acting with

    respect and mindfulness contributing passion and energy with openness listening + learning from other people + cultures Observation begins as a conversation with others. First you’re on the outside looking in; slowly you immerse yourself; then you can step back and reflect. Where are we? Who is here? What are they doing? (What are we doing?) What’s important here? Why? Observe
  14. Reflect through conversations with experience + values to understand what

    people want how culture is evolving to integrate by seeing patterns by building consensus Reflection begins as a conversation with oneself. It considers experience and values. And it frames the situation—or selects a metaphor to explain it—which must then be shared with other people.
  15. Make through conversations with tools + materials to search working

    quickly + iterating taking advantage of accidents to envision imagining the future and making it tangible explaining what it might mean Making also begins as a conversation with oneself. As it continues it increasingly involves others.
  16. Dubberly: “The process need not begin with observing; it may

    begin with any step. Boundaries between the steps are not rigid. Each activity continues throughout the process, e.g., making also involves reflecting and observing.” “Don’t be dogmatic! Use it as a tool. Remember the power of each step, be deliberate about each step, but treat it more like a dance than a baking recipe.”
  17. Dubberly: “Simple sequences sound manageable, even predictable. They promise tasks

    we can schedule and budget. That makes them appealing to people who run organizations and worry about minimizing uncertainty and risk. But the creative process resists planning; it’s not a recipe, script, or formula. (How could it be?) In practice, the process is messy, iterative, and recursive.”
  18. Our  model  for  work  when  we  think  the  situa3on  is

      such  that  we  can  PLAN  a  SOLUTION:     Hero,  compliance,  parent-­‐child,  “knowing”,  what’s   rewarded,  closed,  compe??ve   vs.   Sandbox,  collabora?on  of  equals,  open,  vulnerable  
  19. Creativity is not a talent. It is not a talent,

    it is a way of operating. John Cleese | Full transcript of talk here: https://github.com/tjluoma/John-Cleese-on-Creativity/blob/master/Transcript.markdown
  20. We all operate in two contrasting modes, which might be

    called open and closed. The open mode is more relaxed, more receptive, more exploratory, more democratic, more playful and more humorous. The closed mode is the tighter, more rigid, more hierarchical, more tunnel-visioned. Most people, unfortunately, spend most of their time in the closed mode. John Cleese
  21. Cleese is talking about creativity in general. We are talking

    about creativity in the context of design.
  22. And this leads me to the blind spot of our

    age. As Otto Scharmer of MIT points out, we are blind to the inner source of creativity and leadership.
  23. DOWNLOADING Seeing what I know   Seeing through the lens

    of my judgments and presuppositions. Seeing the projection of my own beliefs and stories onto others and onto the world. Adapted from Otto Scharmer’s Theory U
  24. WONDER Opening my senses   Becoming a sensory “sponge.” Taking

    in what my senses bring me without judgment or interpretation. Adapted from Otto Scharmer’s Theory U
  25. EMPATHY Sensing the whole   Seeing myself as part of

    a larger whole. Participating in life together as equals. Adapted from Otto Scharmer’s Theory U
  26. CO-CREATION Sensing the possible future   Listening to a deep

    inner sense of “what wants to become,” or, “the future that is trying to be born.” Adapted from Otto Scharmer’s Theory U
  27. unmet need actionable insight creating from true connection to the

    people and the situation you aim to serve
  28. When we talk about creativity (individually, but especially in teams

    and organizations), we need to talk about the importance of conversation.
  29. “The creative process involves many conversations about goals and actions

    to achieve them — conversations with co-creators and colleagues, conversations with oneself. The participants and their language, experience, and values affect the conversations. The quality of the conversations is largely responsible for the outcome of the process. The quality of the resulting product reflects the quality of the creative process — and the curiosity and determination of the participants.” Hugh Dubberly
  30. Otto Scharmer’s levels of dialog DEBATE Talking tough   Speaking

    from my own thoughts. Divergent views: I am my point of view. Saying what I think. Adaptive system DOWNLOADING Talking nice   Saying what I think they want to hear. Polite routines, empty phrases. Not saying what you think. Fragmented system DIALOG Reflective inquiry   Speaking from a view of myself as part of the whole. Divergent views: I am my point of view. Reflecting on my part. Self-reflective system PRESENCING Generative flow   Speaking from a sense of what is moving through us. Stillness, collective creativity, flow. Identity shift: authentic self. Generative system
  31. Focus your notes on possibilities. You will think of barriers:

    reasons why your idea won’t work, why your excitement won’t last. Set that aside for now, and record only your excitement. A tip about that… Start your notes with, “How might we / …” Possibility-focus
  32. How might we… How might we… How might we… Concept

    Concept Concept Concept Concept Concept Concept Concept
  33. Certain conditions more likely to get us to the open

    mode. Space Time Time Confidence Humor
  34. Space Let's take space first: you can't become playful and

    therefore creative if you're under your usual pressures, because to cope with them you've got to be in the closed mode. So you have to create some space for yourself away from those demands. And that means sealing yourself off. You must make a quiet space for yourself where you will be undisturbed.
  35. Time     It's not enough to create space, you

    have to create your space for a specific period of time. …It's only by having a specific moment when your space starts and an equally specific moment when your space stops that you can seal yourself off from the every day closed mode in which we all habitually operate. [Quoting a historian:] "Play is distinct from ordinary life, both as to locality and duration. This is its main characteristic: its secludedness, its limitedness. Play begins and then, at a certain moment, it is over. Otherwise, it's not play.” So combining the first two factors we create an "oasis of quiet" for ourselves by setting the boundaries of space and of time. Now creativity can happen, because play is possible when we are separate from everyday life. [Your mind takes time to quiet down, so 30 minutes in your oasis is too short. About 90 minutes works for Cleese. 30 minutes to shed nagging “get things done” closed mode and move into open mode, and an hour for something to happen. If you’re lucky.] But don't put a whole morning aside. My experience is that after about an hour- and-a-half you need a break. So it's far better to do an hour-and-a-half now and then an hour-and-a-half next Thursday and maybe an hour-and-a-half the week after that, than to fix one four-and-a-half hour session now. There's another reason for that, and that's factor number three: time.
  36. Time       Yes, I know we've just done

    time, but that was half of creating our oasis. Now I'm going to tell you about how to use the oasis that you've created. Why do you still need time? Well, let me tell you a story. I was always intrigued that one of my Monty Python colleagues who seemed to be (to me) more talented than I was {but} did never produce scripts as original as mine. And I watched for some time and then I began to see why. If he was faced with a problem, and fairly soon saw a solution, he was inclined to take it. Even though (I think) he knew the solution was not very original. Whereas if I was in the same situation, although I was sorely tempted to take the easy way out, and finish by 5 o'clock, I just couldn't. I'd sit there with the problem for another hour-and-a-quarter, and by sticking at it would, in the end, almost always come up with something more original. It was that simple. My work was more creative than his simply because I was prepared to stick with the problem longer. So imagine my excitement when I found that this was exactly what MacKinnon found in his research. He discovered that the most creative professionals always played with a problem for much longer before they tried to resolve it, because they were prepared to tolerate that slight discomfort and anxiety that we all experience when we haven't solved a problem. You know I mean, if we have a problem and we need to solve it, until we do, we feel (inside us) a kind of internal agitation, a tension, or an uncertainty that makes us just plain uncomfortable. And we want to get rid of that discomfort. So, in order to do so, we take a decision. Not because we're sure it's the best decision, but because taking it will make us feel better. Well, the most creative people have learned to tolerate that discomfort for much longer. And so, just because they put in more pondering time, their solutions are more creative.
  37. Confidence     Now the next factor, number 4, is

    confidence. When you are in your space/time oasis, getting into the open mode, nothing will stop you being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake. Now if you think about play, you'll see why. To play is experiment: "What happens if I do this? What would happen if we did that? What if…?" The very essence of playfulness is an openness to anything that may happen. The feeling that whatever happens, it's ok. So you cannot be playful if you're frightened that moving in some direction will be "wrong" -- something you "shouldn't have done." Well, you're either free to play, or you're not. As Alan Watts puts it, you can't be spontaneous within reason. So you've got risk saying things that are silly and illogical and wrong, and the best way to get the confidence to do that is to know that while you're being creative, nothing is wrong. There's no such thing as a mistake, and any drivel may lead to the break-through. I add: permission for things not to turn out the way you expected. Not “Fail” (though “permission to fail in the way you used to think about failure, and maybe the way your boss thinks about failure” could work. Remember the branching exploration diagram. Remember playing as a kid.
  38. Humor Well, I happen to think the main evolutionary significance

    of humor is that it gets us from the closed mode to the open mode quicker than anything else. I think we all know that laughter brings relaxation, and that humor makes us playful, yet how many times important discussions been held where really original and creative ideas were desperately needed to solve important problems, but where humor was taboo because the subject being discussed was {air quotes} "so serious"? This attitude seems to me to stem from a very basic misunderstanding of the difference between 'serious' and 'solemn’. …[Solemnity] serves pomposity, and the self-important always know with some level of their consciousness that their egotism is going to be punctured by humor -- that's why they see it as a threat. And so {they} dishonestly pretend that their deficiency makes their views more substantial, when it only makes them feel bigger. No, humor is an essential part of spontaneity, an essential part of playfulness, an essential part of the creativity that we need to solve problems, no matter how 'serious' they may be. So when you set up a space/time oasis, giggle all you want. (25:39)
  39. 68 Thailand (and India and Mexico and… A cheerful, direct

    engagement with life; compared to the developed world, people are less inhibited by risk avoidance and “the rules”. Photo: Lance Sells, Flickr
  40. 73

  41. 75

  42. 77 Airgini A mobile software startup, composed of six or

    so software developers and a manager/marketer/ entrepreneur. They had their product working on their own phones, but didn’t know whether they had something that would excite customers. The request: “Help us integrate outside life into our software process: concept, design, & development.”
  43. 78 Airgini Day 1: make a paper prototype (because it’s

    easy to change and you get rich feedback from people)
  44. One day, at a global consumer products company,… See the

    story, “Collaboration and the elephant that sat on it” on the Fit Associates site: fitassociates.com/elephant
  45. 90 ..and there was a side effect… DEBATE Talking tough

    Speaking from my own thoughts. Divergent views: I am my point of view. Saying what I think. Adaptive system DOWNLOADING Talking nice Saying what I think they want to hear. Polite routines, empty phrases. Not saying what you think. Fragmented system DIALOG Reflective inquiry Speaking from a view of myself as part of the whole. Divergent views: I am my point of view. Reflecting on my part. Self-reflective system PRESENCING Generative flow Speaking from a sense of what is moving through us. Stillness, collective creativity, flow. Identity shift: authentic self. Generative system
  46. 91