Do Something - Spark Creativity Through Action

What's the best way to cultivate more creative output in your organization?


Most of us complain about a lack of creativity, while spending our lives in the office, at our desk, just thinking about our projects. Chris Barez-Brown shows us how, in order to jump-start our creativity, we need to have experiences.

“If you go and do something, you get perfect data back and you know if it works or if it doesn't,” Chris states. “Then you can adapt your next goal.”

Watch this video on the benefits of action over thought.

If you want to get more creativity happening in your work every day, do more stuff, experiment more, try stuff out, and see what you learn. Too often, senior executives spend their time debating the future using lots of logic and research and it creates very little value after a certain time. If you go and do something, you get perfect data back and you know if it works or if it doesn't. Then you can adapt your next goal.

By doing so, you'll learn faster. You'll get better creative prototyping out there. You'll have more impact. But also you'll be able to apply that learning forever on every project you do. Now, inventors have known this for centuries. James Dyson, he did over 5,000 bagless vacuum cleaners before he got the one that worked. Every one of those prototypes, if you talk to him, he loved dearly because they taught him about the next. But not only that, you'll find that you grow and you learn way better from action.

Years ago I had a lot of trainers working for me around the world, probably about 40 or 50 guys. I remember one Friday night getting a phone call I really didn't want. It went a bit like this, "Chris, we're really sorry. We broke the CEO." Turns out they were playing some activity outside. The CEO fell over broke their collar bone. Now, I knew this could have been a bit of an issue because insurance gets involved at that point. So I decided what I should do as a duty of care is train everybody in first-aid. So they're not just doing meditation, Reiki, when somebody has an accident.

So I pull in my European team first to get trained up, and what I didn't think about was my guys were quite funky trainers. They facilitate some of the best businesses in the world. The people that train first-aid are a slightly different beast. So the guy who turned up, he was in him late 50s, he was wearing a gray suit, gray tie, gray skin, big pilot case with manuals. He put it down and he went up to the flip chart, and drew an iceberg on it with a ship hitting it and he went, "What's that?" One of my guys went, "Is it the Titanic?" He said, "Yeah, breaks the ice doesn't it?" I'm thinking, "Oh my god, I've got this guy for two days with all of my facilitators. This is going to be hell."

Anyway, after awhile I started to really appreciate his very cheesy humor and he started to wear us down. Now, I'll never forget when he taught us choking. What I mean by that is not how to choke but how to deal with it, and it's basically a three-step process. The first one, which I still find comedic today is, "Are you choking?" The second step is to hit them on the back progressively harder up to three times. If that doesn't work, it's the Heimlich maneuver.

Anyway, I remember this clearly because he said to one of the guys, "Can you just put your phone onto emergency services in case it goes wrong?" Then he takes a tissue, puts it into a glass of water, puts it in his mouth and goes [inhale]. Anyway, he starts to go pink, then he goes red, and then he goes purple with his veins going [pulsating] like this. So obviously I leap into action and go, "Are you choking?" and he's going like this at this point. So I slap him on the back. Now, being very English, I was very genteel about this. It was a very polite tap. Nothing happened. Second tap slightly harder still no impact. Third tap I start to think, "If I don't get this right, it's the Heimlich maneuver," and this guy is twice my size. I don't want that.

So I took a run up on this one. I give it everything I could and fortunately it came out of his mouth and he breathed air once more. Now, I'm sure this was just great theater. I'm sure he's done this hundreds of times. But I'll tell you, I will never forget how hard you have to hit a big bloke to get something out of their throat or, indeed, the three steps to sort out choking.

Why is that important with creative leadership? Well, if you do more stuff, you have more learning that you can apply to everything into the future. If you do more stuff, you have way more stimulus that you could then use to spontaneously connect and have new and different ideas. If you do more stuff, you have a lot more energy in your business and it's a hell of a lot more fun.

Chris Barez-Brown

Chris Barez-Brown has been unleashing the creative potential of worldwide organizations including Nike, Coca Cola, Diageo, The Gates Foundation, Sony and WPP. He is a master of metamorphosis, challenging and transforming businesses th...

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