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Thursday, October 06, 2011

Two Types of Creativity, Firefly Teaches Us about Productivity

Copy Blogger had a great post yesterday about creative types as seen through Firefly, the short-lived series from Joss Whedon.

The captain of the ship, Serenity, is Mal Reynolds. He's cocky, cool and inventive. Mal is always cooking up a new scheme for making money and when things get tough, he improvises a way out. He leads with passion and inspires followers to do more than they thought possible. He can't be constrained by rules, so he flies out beyond the reach of the rules, yet his own code of honor guides everything he does.

Zoe Washburne is Mal's first mate. She served under him in the war and now she continues to take orders on the Firefly-class ship. She's loyal, calculating and direct. While Mal is pondering new ideas, Zoe is putting things into practice and getting results. When things get tough, she sticks to the plan and gets out through sheer willpower. She works best by taking Mal's crazy schemes and making something concrete out of them.

Typically creative types are either a Mal or a Zoe. Mals are the entrepreneurship that go out on the edge and push the envelope. Mals are Steve Jobs who was so good at challenging the status quo. Zoes are the doers that implement the dreams of the entrepreneurs. Zoes are Steve Wozniak who provided the technical skill to create what Steve Jobs thought up. Neither Mals nor Zoes work well on their own. They need each other, if possible, and if not, they need to develop the skills to compensate.

Mals need help sticking with one idea long enough to make it a reality. Too often they are moving on to the next idea before the first one (or dozen) are even over. They require the discipline to stop, wait and see if the idea will work before moving on to the next big thing. They need to devote time to production rather than just imagination. The great idea won't do anyone any good if it never exists. Specific blocks of time need to be set aside for doing the work.

Zoes need imagination sparkers. They are great at implementing ideas, but they need the kernel of the idea to begin with. Practicing brainstorming or finding good sources for new ideas in news sources feeds Zoes the new ideas they need. They also need to know when to give up, if an idea isn't working and can't be tweaked, it needs to be abandoned. Zoes are loathe to give up ideas at all, they will fight to the last. Zoes need to learn some people skills, the focus on ideas alienates people. They don't see why those around them are not doing the job and they don't take the time to listen. Zoes need to stop and listen.

Which one are you? How can you be better at creating?

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