Constructive Creativity

I love being creative and engaging in spaces where anything and everything is possible. Yet, sometimes this can be overwhelming and lead to a sense of frustration rather than liberation. When the ultimate goal is to make a decision or perform an action, constructive creativity may be useful.

Constructive creativity is a way to be effectively innovative. Using this method, the area of inquiry is clearly defined. This process can require a bit of time for discussion and reflection. A common understanding of what is to be investigated is fully articulated. From that common starting point, the creative journey begins. This way, the exploratory process is focused on the specific goal of the creative endeavor and the time invested is directed toward results.

Evidence-Based Means…

…outdated, unoriginal, uninspired, and boring. When program evaluation demonstrates that a program has made a human or social impact, it is sometimes labeled as evidence-based. Evidence-based programs are packaged, sometimes commodified, and ‘sold’ — either literally or figuratively — as proven solutions. Other organizations are encouraged to adopt evidence-based programs with full fidelity to the original program design.

This process fully obscures the many contextual/environmental factors that contribute to the achievement of outcomes in pilot sites. It also assumes that the environment is fully controlled so that the impact of the program can be isolated from other influencing variables. It further postulates that what works in and is appropriate for one particular time and place is universally applicable.

I prefer to develop creative programs, co-designed with representatives from the entire community, based on their perception of needs and potential. Not only is this much more fun, it promotes community-led visioning and unique, innovative program design.

Manage Things, Not People

As leaders, we often also have management responsibilities. I think it is important to remember that we should manage things rather than people.

We can manage money, time, processes, and projects so that our goals and objectives are achieved.   Interactions with other people on the team should consist of guidance, support, encouragement, and access to information and resources. It is not usually necessary to tell others what to do or how to do it; however, agreements about behavior can be developed through dialogue. Shifting management from people to things keeps us focused on our goals; it challenges us to always think of process and project outcomes rather than the minutiae of specific activities. It also creates space for freedom of expression, creativity, and innovation.

I have also found that some people have been conditioned to desire specific direction in their work. Others may not be a good fit for their job or the organization and therefore detailed instructions, if not termination, are required. By getting to know each individual employee, we can determine how to best support and lead each person so that they can realize both their human potential and organizational goals.