What does creative freedom mean to you?

In my book In Your Creative Element, I quote IDEO’s Tom Kelley who says that creative groups are at their best when they are free to experiment with new ideas. “Some skeptics insist that innovation is expensive,” he says. “In the long run, innovation is cheap. Mediocrity is expensive – and autonomy can be the antidote.”

Being allowed to run with an idea is a luxury that many of us rarely experience. Sure, the ideation phase is all about pinging new ideas around, but there are almost always constraints. If you were told you had total freedom to work on something new, how might you interpret that?

  • Freedom to make mistakes?
  • Freedom to work flexibly?
  • Freedom to break the rules?
  • Freedom to experiment?

I think true freedom is certainly a lot more than just being allowed to experiment, which is how many people would interpret it. I help people to explore how they can be more creative and devise their own creative formula, based on the 62 “creative elements” that I explore in the book. Part of the exercise in the freedom chapter is worth repeating here. Something to ponder for tonight’s commute home…

1/ Who or what creates a sense of limits to you when it comes to coming up with new ideas? How might you challenge that?

2/ Is there a voice in your own head holding you back? What is it saying?

3/ What if the opposite were true?

4/ What would you do if you had no limits?

None of us will ever operate at peak creativity if the constraints are too tight. Work out how to loosen your creative bonds and the rewards will quickly be evident.

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