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April 14, 2014

How to grow from Critic to Creative?

Do you see yourself or someone around you as designated critic or sometimes termed as “expert commentator”?
Do you know and understand why people behave like this?
Do we understand how to deal with this phenomenon and grow beyond?
I have tried to capture some common root cause and behaviors experienced, through this post along with possible solutions.
Side effects of our success and strengths : Like so many of our challenges, roots of the problem may lie in our success and what we consider our strengths. E.g., Eye for / Attention to detail is great skill and ability to have. This gets lot of positive rewards, recognition etc. Repeated success becomes a craving like an addiction. Before one realizes,person starts acting like a nitpicker and constant pain. There can be so many other examples like assertiveness to aggression, ability to articulate to talkative, and so on.
“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.“- William Polard. 
Solution lies in constantly reflecting and reviewing our behavior; evaluating what we do and why.When you notice something you want to point out, think of how you would deal with situation, problem or task. Offer your solution as an alternative instead spending your energy on pointing out problems / shortcomings of other proposals.

Lack of Execution skills: There is a reason why so much premium is put on execution skills and rewards in terms of power, money, influence etc are highest in executive branch of all organisations (including National Governments). Because primary reason for existence of organisation is to deliver and make things happen.
People with poor execution skills, mostly because of their inability to influence, motivate, lead or connect with others, tend to develop sense of self worth by seeking higher moral or intellectual grounds.
In Duncan’s words – “Innovation is the ability to convert ideas into invoices”. If you see yourself or anyone in your team on this path, put them in charge of delivering a project or task. Taking on responsibility and accountability will help channel negative energies into creative efforts.
Insecurity: We live in constantly changing and highly competitive business environment. Putting tremendous pressure on everyone. We carry burden of proving ourselves on daily basis. More successful we are, more insecure we become as our perceived stakes are higher.  This sense of insecurity makes us less and less open to new ideas. It’s easy to dismiss and criticize instead of try and take risks. “They always say time changes things but you actually have to change them yourself.” – Andy Warhol.  You need to deal with insecurity head on. Do a reality check and accept the fact. Figure out what are key motivators. Use some tools like SWOT and make a realistic and achievable plan.
Understanding the Sweet Spot: Creativity too has its methods and isn't random. 
Creative endeavors need support of systems and processes at the same time needing challenges of Chaos to thrive. Creativity can’t flourish in set systems and status quo. They tend to become prohibitive. One needs to introduce managed Chaos by way of throwing up new challenges like targeting to acquire new skills, businesses, raising the Bar etc. At the same time Creativity can’t flourish in absolute Chaos. If you or your teams/ organization are in complete chaos, first you need to stabilise by introducing basic systems and process discipline. 
Remember – “Luck is where crossroads of opportunity and preparation meet.” Seneca.

Few things to focus on:
1)    Listening : It never hurts to listen more. To do more and better you need to learn more and only way to learn is being silent and listen.
2)    Adaptability : It’s about championing, accepting and agreeing  to other ideas when  you have equally effective idea or solution. This helps in broadening horizons and reduces criticizingbehaviors.
3)    Going back to school – enrolling for new skills/courses, taking up assignment and projects outside your function/ expertise areas.
4)    Taking up short assignments outside your Organisation, with a partner or supplier and if possible with a customer.
5)    Networking effectively
6)    Embracing concept of pluralism.

I will sign off with a quote from Thomas Edison – Genius is one percent inspiration, Ninety nine percent perspiration.
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Warm Regards,

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