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Two Approaches to Creative Projects

It seems to me that there are two approaches to creative projects, both equally valid, but each having its own risks.

In the first approach, a creative genius has the whole project already finished in their mind, and they just need to communicate it to the other people on the team. The first risk in this case is whether the so-called genius really is a genius; i.e., is their vision worth pursuing? But also, can they communicate it to the team? Too often, envisioning and communicating don’t go hand-in-hand. Lastly, can the team members embrace the idea? Even if it’s a great idea, and it’s been communicated clearly, the team still needs to be able to work together effectively to bring it to fruition.

In the second approach, a creative person has an idea in rough form, and the team collaborates to finish it. In this case, the “genius” of the original idea is less important; there are certainly some ideas which weren’t great initially but led to great things by collaboration with a great tream. But the main risk with this approach is whether the team is the right group of people, each with the right talents.  If so, the genius of the person who initiates the idea is not so much in coming up with an idea as in their ability to recognize which team contributions do and don’t belong in the finished product.

Over the years, I’ve realized I’m more the second kind of person. I enjoy working with other creative people and welcoming their input. I’m not afraid to change directions, even if the new direction isn’t where I was initially headed.

But I’ve also met people who have the amazing gift of envisioning a finished project in all its details.  Sometimes I wish I could be like that, but usually I’m just content to be the guy who needs the help of other people to find out whether my ideas are good.

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