Turning Creativity into Creation


The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo forming part of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
[SOURCE] Photo taken by Sebastian Bergmann

I love this fascinating video by The RSA that  replicated its way through Facebook last year. It features a lecture by renowned psychiatrist Ian McGilchrist discussing our divided left and right brain.

Nowhere does this difference become more apparent than when you are in the detail-bogged delivery portions of a project as compared to the creative beginnings. If your mind’s eye is a camera, you switch from a wide angle lens that captures the possibility of the distant landscape to a close-up lens that has you exploring macro details of your target immediately before you.

We are in the weeks before the start of SAP’s fall conference season, and I am at that point in my projects where execution is everything. There’s lot of interesting visionary ideas that I wish I could blog about, but they have to wait until forthcoming announcements are made. In the meantime, I’m spending most of my day slogging rows of action items in spreadsheets. Hopefully we’re at the point where more rows are being crossed out than added – status indicators turning from “red” to “yellow” to “go”.

Obsessively working through tons of sub-detail is not a great way to engender creativity in me. However, it’s a necessary part of turning ideas to reality. I keep myself focused by reminding myself that new facts created by the finishing process provide a whole new basis for creative possibilities.

The video above follows a common line of thinking that we all fall into a continuum of being big vision / creative types and detail-oriented executioners:


This led me to ponder project structures throughout history that allowed people to turn creative ideas into actual creations:

  • The Pharaoh’s approach: detail-oriented slave driver micro-managing creative craftsmen.


  • The Tom Clancy Approach: a crew of detail-oriented ghost writers churn out novels based on your visionary ideas.


Joking aside, this single dimension wasn’t satisfying to me as a model. After Googling for more information on this topic, I ran across an interesting pair of articles in Harvard Business Review by Ella Miron-Spektor introducing an additional dimension: conformity.  People who score high in the conformity cognitive style know how to get along with others, how the system works, follow the rules, and understand what ideas are likely to be accepted. Miron-Spektor and her colleagues found that effective innovation teams had a mix of creative, detail-oriented, conformist, and generalist thinkers.


Three dimensions of thinking important for turning creativity into creations.

Time to get back to my spreadsheets…

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