A Night with Scott Berkun
Earlier this week, I attended an event hosted by the DC chapter of the User Experience Professionals Association. I’ll admit that user experience has always been something someone else was in charge of on my projects. Even at AIIM, I manage to have someone on staff who knows it well enough to keep tabs on it.
When my web designer told me that Scott Berkun was speaking at the next meeting, I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve been a fan, since I started following him during his Confessions of a Public Speaker days. I never read the book due to time (still in my future plans), but I enjoyed his insights on his blog.
One of the things that I’ve always liked about Scott is that I agree with almost everything he says. Here was a person spouting the things I have strived to follow in my career and people were listening. The difference?
Scott can explain it MUCH better than I can.
Really, that is the biggest difference. I can talk to someone, give them advice, and they’ll understand it, but that is interactive. Scott can get it into a short post where anyone can grasp the concept.
Where I take 600 words, Scott can explain things in 200. Where people may come away from my post without fully understanding the point I was trying to make, Scott’s point are clear and concise.
That skill is invaluable and that skill was also on display that evening.
Scott was talking about the concepts in his latest book, Mindfire, Big Ideas for Curious Minds. It is about creativity and tries to help people realize that creativity is work, and like any work, it can be learned.
I think his best story about breaking down the myth of creativity comes from Hollywood. You’ve seen the movie. The underdog is facing a challenge. At some point when the odds appear almost hopeless, an idea occurs. It usually occurs when something that the hero(s) is doing inspires an idea or when the gang is chilling out in defeat. What then follows is a montage.
This montage is the critical thing that nobody seems to absorb. The effort to implement the creative idea is work. Those montages don’t show lounging. They show people working to make the idea a reality.
Scott also stresses that creativity also isn’t genetic. It is learned. It is driven by hard work and building upon the ideas of those that have come before you. It is exposing yourself to new things and reapplying those concepts to different areas. It is about not banging your head into a wall but taking a break, moving around, and bouncing ideas off of other people.
It isn’t always done in isolation either. Scott had a lot of good examples of pairs like Gilbert & Sullivan, Gates & Paul Allen, and Jobs & Wozniak. I thought of another which I shared with him that illustrates the concept, McCartney & Lennon. When they were with The Beatles, they were amazing. The volume and quality of output was incredible. Solo, both were good but neither were as great. McCartney has NEVER had a solo number one song in the US.
Two creative people, better together.
You may have that creative spark. You may have those good ideas. Working with people or asking for help doesn’t make you less of a creative person. It makes you someone who is trying to optimize your innovation.
And more importantly, next time you are stuck on something, take a minute, relax, and maybe grab a quick shower.
You’ll have to read the book.