Often when I am leading a workshop one or more participants come up to me afterward and say something like this: “hey I loved your program and innovation is important, but I don’t have the time to be innovative or creative.” Do you ever feel like that yourself? Let’s face it, even when we are not busy completing tasks, attending meetings, responding to emails, posting on social media, taking out the garbage, walking the dog or taking care of the kids, innovation and thinking out of the box so-to-speak, falls by the way side. It seems that we just don’t have the time.
Well, when it comes to innovation, time in my opinion, is overrated. And as a matter of fact, sometimes if you have too much time – then all you may be doing is forcing the creative process to come up with big, bold ideas and you won’t necessarily succeed in your task. Instead, of having more time to be creative and innovative, what we need is more energy. Energy, not time (check out Tony Schwartz and his work on this topic) is the liveliness and creative force we need to keep our neural networks of ideas firing-up properly and sustaining the innovative process of identifying, generating and implementing ideas. Energy is the vigorous effort of our mind, body and spirit combined that gives us the capacity to create. Without the proper amount and level of energy, it’s really hard to feel stimulated and attract sparks – those big ah ha type moments.
The other day, a global client team and I got together to “brainstorm” new concepts and strategies for managing a digital transformation effort and accelerating digital competence. Notta. Nothing. Zip. It just wasn’t happening ‘cause we were plum tired, distracted and not in the right frame of mind. Even after a few shots of espresso and macaroon cookies, we just didn’t generate or come close to what we thought would be exciting, new ideas for the change effort. Our energy was definitely off, even though we dedicated the “time” to brainstorm. So we decided to abandon our brainstorming efforts and suspend our creative process for another day – the next day as a matter of fact. We met mid-morning and in the span of 30 minutes – less time than the day before, we generated many possibilities, whittled them down to our favorites and immediately began to prototype some of them. What was the difference? Our energy. Even though we had less time, we were able to produce better and more quality ideas. How? Before our brainstorm, we took a brisk walk, talked about the day, stayed present with the warmth of the sunshine, fresh air and beautiful surroundings and then when we entered our meeting room we started our “brainstorm” with a quote to center our thoughts and energy. Sounds simple and basic, however the results from one day to the next were amazingly different and better. So, the next time someone or maybe even you say, “I don’t have the time to be creative and innovative,” think again. Instead of time, consider your energy and figure out a way to help you stimulate your capacity to create.