What happens if I don’t?

Most of us ask, “What happens if I do…?”  Yet, in my creative work and consulting, I find it’s not the most important question. “What happens if I don’t….?”  – that’s the important question.

Ask anyone with a terminal illness if time really is equal to money. It isn’t. You can get money back. You can not get time back.

That overused equivalency is a misinterpretation from the classical Greek works of Antiphon, “The most costly outlay is time.” It was overused – and sometimes misused – by managers following Fredrick Taylor’s work on improving industrial processes. I would argue that even time isn’t our most valuable resource – it’s our attention. What we can and do pay attention to over the course of an hour, day, week or lifetime determines our results individually and collectively.

There are only 168 hours in a week, no matter how you slice them. I have repeated empirical evidence that humans can’t focus for all 168 hours, but what we pay attention to during the available hours matters. (My college cramming and the resulting grades was the first of my many experiments with this.)

That’s why the question, ‘What happens if I don’t?’ can focus a project rapidly. It’s not being comfortable with what we’re doing – it’s being comfortable with what’s left undone.  To get clear as individuals and groups on what we are here to do means stating clearly what we are not here to do – on this project, in this job, with this organization, with this life.

Have you ever crafted an ‘attention spending plan’ for a project, staff, company or yourself? What would it look like?

For some further reading on this, take a look at this McKinsey article and this 99u blog post. I’ll pick up the thread in later blog posts.

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Creative Transformation – and Transforming the Creative

Making – Core meaning  – ‘To cause to exist or happen.’ CREATING.

Change – Core meaning – ‘To make or become different.’ TRANSFORMATION.

From Webster’s Dictionary. The old fashioned printed kind. Because sometimes that just works best.

This blog is about creative transformation and transforming the creative. In my experience, this looks a lot like alchemy. Some individuals or groups – usually perceived as slightly crazy by those around them – spent their lives mixing base metals in a crucible hoping to make gold. If they got lucky, they created bronze or steel. Both are useful and valuable. They bring gold when sold.

I’ve worked deeply in technology, business and the arts for years. When I started Making Change, I saw the similarities in developing software, building a business and making a movie. But I got weird looks from people when I talked about it. Then business and tech started to fuse – people got that they needed a digital and technology strategy that could be implemented whatever their business. Adding in art and creativity – that’s now the vanguard.

Large businesses know that they need to be more creative to survive. Teaching a elephant to dance and evolve at the same time requires finesse. We (and our companies) are challenged by technologies that morph faster than we can afford to support in both time and money. Few business or project plans account for our most valuable resource – our attention.

I’ve been thriving at intersection (or collision) of business, technology and art for over a decade. Throwing the three elements into the crucible, adding heat and sometimes pressure, makes magic. Consider this an invitation to step into the lab with me.

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