John Cleese on Creativity

Scaling / April 25, 2012 / Admin

An excellent video surfaced recently, via a recent episode of Back to Work /, of John Cleese giving a talk on Creativity. He, of Monty Python fame, spent much of his career trying to find the best ways of being creative in his work as a comedian, and was able to observe how his equally brilliant colleagues worked. It’s a great watch and also includes several amusing lightbulb jokes as well. 🙂

After watching this it struck me that his “bit” at the end (32:25) was really not so far off the reality at some companies. When businesses were being managed like factories, living in a Closed mode was completely appropriate. But many of the most successful companies nowadays are in industries where coming up with creative solutions to problems is exactly what they do, day in and day out. Tech companies are literally doing this everyday, trying to accomplish something new with software or hardware that has never been done before, by anyone.

Many other more traditional companies are going through a transition where creative solutions are becoming more necessary to growing their business. The transition to Digital is a big struggle for some businesses, for example. Recreating workflows and improving upon older processes using computers and mobile devices can sometimes require some real thinking.

Is the culture at your company such that it’s totally acceptable for employees to relax and take some time to consider new and creative solutions or ideas when necessary? Are your meetings setup to allow people to be at their most creative? Or is your space configured for this to occur naturally?

Cleese gives us all a great reminder to schedule time to go into Open mode every so often. It’s too easy to remain in Closed mode when we’re ridiculously busy running our small businesses. Block off 2–3 hrs to become really engrossed in a problem. It doesn’t matter whether that problem is coming up with sales or marketing strategies, or creating a long term overall strategy, or figuring out the best way to keep people from eating your leftovers at the office. Relax. Take a breath. Have a laugh. Spend that entire time pondering and come up with as many different solutions as possible to the most interesting and important projects in your life. Play around with crazy ideas and allow yourself to look at things differently. Try to get past your first instincts and struggle through to make something truly great.

And then the phone starts ringing and you’re back to reality.

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