Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Open Source Creativity

Creativity is something that’s not easily contained. In fact, it’s contagious. When creative people start putting their heads together, some amazing things happen. It’s a rare occasion when an incredible idea is solely created by one person.

I know, I know it can be hard to let go of our ideas. There’s that little creativity myth that says that keeping our ideas to ourself is much better than sharing them. After all, what if someone steals them, I think this is kinda old school thinking, today its all about collaboration.

Big idea man Seth Godin opened my eyes as to why “giving away” ideas is a great thing. Seth made a beautiful point. 99% of the time the problem isn’t someone stealing your idea, it’s you not actually doing it. So what better way to put an idea into motion than having more people help?

There are many ideas that I’ve had that never would have come close to completing without the help of others. Sharing ideas is critical.

Its important to start changing the way you think about your ideas if you’re going to start letting other people work on them. Pretty soon you’ll have people questioning every aspect of your idea. This is a necessary and healthy aspect of collaboration. If you’re really wanting to let other people (more than one, at least) start working on your ideas, you’ll have to be able to do three things.

1. Realise you can’t do everything on your own - There’s a tendency as idea owners to want to control and do everything. People don’t want to just add input, they want to work on the idea too! Remember, these people have the same goal as you: they want the idea to get better and better. Give up some responsibility. You’ll find happier collaborators and more time for yourself to work on other ideas.

2. Allow for the free exchange of ideas - Now that the idea is open to other people’s interpretation, there are obviously going to be new and different ideas spinning off of it. Some ideas may be so revolutionary and different that they completely change the scope of the original project. That’s totally normal. Remember: The idea is now bigger than just you. You have to be willing to be accept that someone else may have an even better idea than yours.

3. Trust other people - Allowing other people to work on your idea ultimately requires more trust. By letting other people work on the idea, improve the idea and even rip the idea to shreds takes trust. Lots of it. You’ll have to accept that these people working on your idea want the idea to succeed too.

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