Bob Lieberman's Blog

Commentary and Tools For Empowering Change

Inhabiting The Creative Space

The simple abstract diagram below depicts the activity space for creating something new. 

Every point in the space represents a necessary activity, which is characterized along two axes: REALISM (Blue Sky vs. Down To Earth) and CONCRETENESS (Mind vs. Body). 

Activity Space for Creating Something New

In the diagram, I've identified regions for four typical and very common activities, drawn in clouds to indicate the potential fluidity and ambiguity of their boundaries. 

In a way this diagram is a Rorschach test. Whatever line of work you're in, it probably has some insights to offer you. So I encourage you to try it on for size – both for you personally and for your organization, team, or department – and see where it takes you.

Here are some interesting questions you might ask, to get the ball rolling...

  • Is your activity space open-plan (like the diagram) or does it have internal borders? If there are borders, how fortified are they and what do they signify?
  • How much or how little do actors move around the space? Are they regional inhabitants, nomads, or diplomats? Where do you fit in the space?
  • Move yourself around the space and see how your feelings change about your "assignment". Does any region of the space feel like "no man's land"?
  • For any inhabitants you identified, how does their status and power vary depending on the region they occupy?
  • Is communication between regions in your space more contractual or more collaborative? Sequential or concurrent? Formal or informal?
  • ask more questions...indulge your curiosity

Now, having asked and answered your questions, ask yourself about the significance of the qualities of your work situation that you have uncovered, inferred, or deduced...

  1. What impact do those qualities have on your own work product? 
  2. What impact do those qualities have on the work product of your work group?
  3. What personal impact do those qualities have on you and your colleagues?
  4. How do those qualities help or hinder the creation process?
  5. What new insights or suspicions do you have regarding current pain points? Current success factors? Opportunities?

At this point, there is just one question left: What do you intend to do about it?

In a way that's the most important question of all because if any of your thinking stirred you in any way, you really should do something to trust and honor your interests

When digging around in fundamental areas like these, you may feel overwhelmed by the scope or gravity of what you uncovered. No worries. It is ok to start small. Very small!!!

So... find something you can do that:

  • Is effective
  • Doesn't require too much of your time and energy
  • You are likely to succeed at
  • Is going to improve the situation, even if just slightly

You might call that your Minimum Viable Action (tip of my hat to Eric Ries).

And now... go do it – and observe what happens next. Because feedback is where it's at.