Creative Confidence - Tom Kelley and David Kelley

Creative Confidence - Tom Kelley and David Kelley

Discover what you can do to unleash and believe more in all your natural creativity, through a series of success cases brought to you by the owners of one of the most innovative companies in the world.

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Did you know that in Tibet there is no word for "creativity"? According to Geshe Thupten Jinpa, the Dalai Lama's main translator, the closest translation would be the word "natural".

If your business is stagnating, maybe your processes lack this naturality, or at least allow it to flow. This is what is demonstrated by two surveys presented in the book we are about to discuss.

The first one comes from IBM, which indicated, among more than 1500 CEOs, creativity as the most important competence for business leaders.

The other one was conducted by Adobe Systems, in three continents, with 5 thousand people. Of these, 4,000 considered such competence fundamental to economic growth.

On the other hand, only 1250 believe they are able to exercise their creative potential. Do you realize how much talent could be put to better use following Tibetan culture?

By reading this summary of the book "Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All", by Tom and David Kelley, you will learn, with examples of successful cases, tools to revolutionize your products and professional practices. Don't be just one more in the crowd!

The book “Creative Confidence”

A promise in the form of eight chapters and 288 pages. While David Kelley was treating cancer, the two brothers vowed that if recovery was successful, they would write this book.

According to the authors, it came about because, in thirty years of experience in their own company, they realized that innovation can be both fun and rewarding.

The work comes with the purpose of leaving a legacy of the authors, providing material so that other people can reach the maximum of their creative potential, regardless of the area in which they work.

Who are Tom Kelley and David Kelley? 

The first mouse from Apple, surgical instruments from Medtronic, brand strategies from The North Face. All these innovations in diverse areas were responsibility of IDEO, a design and innovation consulting firm co-founded by David Kelley in 1978.

Since his childhood being the most creative and unconventional of the brothers, David has been a professor at Stanford University for over 25 years and is the holder of numerous awards and honors, such as the Misha Black Medal for Innovation and membership in the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.

Tom Kelley, on the other hand, opted for the more traditional path early in his career, until he did his first jobs in design and got a taste for "thinking outside the box”.

Besides this book, he is also the author of The Art of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation, where he reveals strategies and behind-the-scenes work at IDEO, where he is his brother's partner.

There he helped grow the team from 15 designers to over 600 employees working in business development, marketing, human resources, and operations.

Why should I read “Creative Confidence”?

Have you always been driven by innovation, like David, the disruptive brother? So, in this work, he will help you reach your full potential and develop confidence in your own abilities, so that you will have a better chance of following the path you have always dreamed of.

But if you don't consider yourself a creative person, and identify more with Tom, the brother who started out in jobs that were often thought of as more "practical" or "realistic" before discovering another innate vocation, he can also help you awaken the imaginative side.

Whatever your specialization or professional field, from medicine to accounting, from fine arts to architecture, there is always room to break through with the new.

What are the key points of “Creative Confidence”?

  • Creative confidence is the belief that we are all creative;
  • Even so, the authors' experience indicates that you can only apply this ability if you have the courage to take the leap;
  • Failure is natural;
  • Prototypes are a great way to convince staff to execute a project and to optimize spending;
  • Stopping passive observation and converting thoughts into action is usually the first step to being creative.

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What is design thinking?

Simply put, design thinking is the creation of new ideas, made possible by some natural and, contrary to what many people think, also trainable human capabilities.

Also, Ken Robinson, made Sir for services to education, said that such training “is as important in education as literacy and should be given the same status”.

Contrary to what you may be thinking, it is nothing that you have not put into practice at least once in your life, without much effort. These are things like intuition, pattern recognition, and developing functional ideas with some emotional meaning.

The authors point out that the process goes through four phases: inspiration, synthesis, ideation and experimentation, and implementation.

First of all, you need to have what the psychologist Albert Bandura calls self-efficacy. Simply believing that you are capable of promoting change can directly affect your goals, actions, and perceptions, for neurological reasons.

“A prerequisite for achieving creative confidence is to believe that your innovation skills and competencies are not rigid and immutable.”

Sure, in theory it may sound easy, but there are strings attached that make it difficult to practice. In her studies, professor and researcher Brené Brown found that one-third of the people interviewed remembered a “creativity scar”.

At some point, someone told them that they had no talent for art, and this left marks that immobilize them to this day.

Therefore, it is very important not to compare yourself with anyone else or let yourself be taken over by an isolated incident. The book brings the examples of the Beatles George Harrison and Paul McCartney, who had the same music teacher, and he saw nothing much in the boys. Imagine all that the world would have lost if they had given up there.

To free yourself from the chains of fear of exposing ideas, you need courage, there is no other way. What can help is to go little by little, as the essayist György Konrád said, “courage is nothing more than the accumulation of small steps”.

With courage, take another point of view on the situation. Gain the freedom you need by lowering other people's expectations and your own. Do you want to test ideas "outside the box"? Treat it, then, as a mere "experiment". Make it clear that this cannot and should not mean a loss in your career.

Also, know how to deal with mistakes. Recognizing them is the first step. This way you know what not to repeat and get rid of the feeling of guilt, while at the same time showing yourself to be an honest and humble person.

Then know that they happen and are necessary. All the great creative geniuses have failed, the difference is that they tried so many times, until they did it right, that today only their successes are known. Failing at the beginning of the project can be even more beneficial, as it takes the wrong values out of the equation right away.

Finally, the authors bring eight strategies developed over the years to help you get off the blank page:

  1. Opt for creativity;
  2. See the world through the eyes of a tourist;
  3. Maintain a relaxed attention;
  4. Develop empathy for your end user;
  5. Observe what happens in the field; 
  6. Ask questions starting with “why”;
  7. See the challenges from a new perspective;
  8. Develop a creative support network.

What is the importance of Minimum Viable Product?

The book talks about Boyle's Law. Not the known one, from chemistry. Here, it refers to Dennis Boyle, one of the founders of IDEO, who says: “Never go to a meeting without a prototype”.

Tom Hulme, the company's design director, goes one step further and says that you should “get your idea out into the world before it's ready”.

The way to do this is to use the Minimum Viable Product. By conveying the imagined idea, with as little complexity as possible, you can gather insights without running the risk of developing the project, increasing the expenses, only to find in the end that nobody wants the product.

Large companies nowadays start and continue to operate this way, always in beta version. For example, engineers Ankit Gupta and Akshay Kothari, when asked to start a company in just ten weeks, took action in a coffee shop.

With the most basic version of their application on an iPad unpretentiously on the table, they collected opinions from everyone passing by, interested. This is how Pulse News came about, an iPad app that has already had more than 20 million downloads.

“It is difficult to be the 'best' right away, so it is more interesting to commit to rapid and continuous improvement.”

A good way to present your ideas early in the design is through drawings. But, calm down, you don't have to be Picasso or Van Gogh. Dan Roam, expert in the art of visual thinking, states that for communicative purposes, it is enough to be able to draw the following shapes:

Shapes displayed: square; circle; triangle; line; blob

Remember that your projects must always balance three spheres: for business, it must be viable; for people, it must be desirable; and from the technical aspect, it must be doable.

When you think about developing something, pay attention also to the words of writer Mark Twain: "The big problem is not what you don't know. It is what you are sure you know, but is not true".

For example, you can be sure that your customer, or the business world, would not be in favor of pairs of socks sold in different colors. But LittleMissMatched went from making $5 million to $25 million in just three years with this innovation.

Keep an open mind to what you consider "weird", careful observations and without precipitate judgments can bring unexpected fruits.

How to make the work environment more creative?

Remember psychologist Bandura, who coined the concept of self-efficacy? For he also teaches us "guided mastery", which assigns learning primarily to practice and coaching. This is how you will start to implement creative trust in your organization.

In order for the practice to function perfectly, each of the key contributors needs to develop this capacity, one person at a time

In fact, the sectors are interdependent. A decree from the top may not get the necessary engagement, while an initiative developed in the lower sectors cannot go ahead without the support of the executive.

As good commanders of success cases themselves, in this part, the authors bring several lists that help, in some way, to transform your corporate environment.

If you have the responsibility of taking care of an innovation team, you need to look for that:

  • Know each other's strengths;
  • Leverage diversity;
  • Join the project with body and soul;
  • Recognize the value of relationships at work;
  • Model your team's experience in advance;
  • Have fun!

If your goal is more ambitious and you want to be a "multiplying leader", as Steve Jobs was, your duties are:

  • To be a "talent magnet", attracting and retaining the best and most creative people and helping them reach their full potential;
  • To find a challenge or mission that motivates people to expand their mindset;
  • To encourage a vigorous dialogue that allows different points of view to be expressed and taken into consideration;
  • To allow team members to feel ownership of the results and to invest in their success.

Now, regardless of the position they occupy, any team member can collaborate with the environment by having the following attitudes:

  • Never lose your sense of humor;
  • Benefit from people's energy;
  • Minimize hierarchy;
  • Value team trust and camaraderie;
  • Postpone criticism (at least for now).

Our communication with so many possibilities has allowed many evolutions to society, over the course of time. Knowing the power that words have, be very careful, for they can also cause damage.

In their undertakings, when they don't like an idea, authors try to use questioning that stimulates the flow of ideas to continue, rather than interrupt them.

“How could we improve this idea?”, “What could we add to turn it into a great idea?” or “What other ideas can this idea generate?” are a few examples.

Invest effort in really improving and solidifying a productive vocabulary in your company. The recommended magic question to search for a solution is “How could we...?”.

The first word indicates that there is a possibility, it just has to be discovered. The pronoun in the first-person plural reinforces that the whole team is responsible and strengthens the sense of collectivity. “Could”, in this verb tense, lowers expectations and makes room for more imaginative solutions.

Sure, one of the things most closely tied to the idea of environment is the physical space itself. It represents the second largest expense for most companies, second only to workers' salaries. This alone shows the attention that improvement in this aspect deserves..

Build a space that keeps people together, but not too close. Allow customization and flexibility of the equipment. Don't be afraid of daring projects, but don't lose control, watch out for the noise. As in any point, diplomacy can always collaborate.

Books about creativity

In “Out of Our Minds”, Sir Ken Robinson, already mentioned here, ratifies the ideas that creativity has been one of the most requested points professionally, besides, of course, what is expressed in the book's title itself.

For those who are reluctant to believe that being creative at work is something restricted to artistic functions, the book “The Artist's Way” is a good way to correct their thinking. Author Julia Cameron, screenwriter, poet, author of musicals and more than 30 other books, perfectly represents what is often thought of as a creative person. Nothing better than learning how to be too, from someone like her.

What could better represent creativity than something that inspires children as much as Pixar movies? In "Creativity, Inc.", Ed Catmull, one of the founders of the animation company, tells about the experiences applied in the work that took him to the top of his field.

How can I develop my creativity with the book "Creative Confidence"?

  • Set yourself a creativity goal. It can be something simple, like recording an idea you had each day for a month in a notebook;
  • Direct resource limitations toward creativity rather than being a handicap, since your only option is to use less time and money;
  • Spend a whole day replacing "no" with "yes and..." or "I could if...";
  • Replace the PowerPoint presentation at your next meeting with a story told from a single image. Bring a prototype, create a simple video that represents the idea, or just scribble something on the whiteboard;
  • Use the toolkits made available on the Internet by IDEO, such as the Human-Centered Design Toolkit and Design Thinking for Educators, and by, such as the Virtual Crash Course and Bootcamp Bootleg.

Did you like this summary of the book “Creative Confidence”?

The authors say that “one way to think about getting started is to view developing your creative confidence as your first creative challenge”.

Why, then, not set an even easier goal that can contribute to your ability to express yourself, while at the same time providing the object of improvement for the content you consume?

What was most interesting in your opinion? Did you get any insight from the tips and experiences related here? Make a comment on this summary, as a creative pre-challenge!

To check the exercises suggested by the authors in full, as well as the step-by-step description of how the success cases they have monitored happened, click on the image below and buy the complete book, in English!

Creative Confidence - Tom Kelley and David Kelley