Creativity thrives when people dive in, start working and learn along the way
If you seek to plot out all your moves before you make them — if you put your faith in slow, deliberative planning in the hopes it will spare you failure down the line — well, you’re deluding yourself.
For one thing, it’s easier to plan derivative work — things that copy or repeat something already out there. So if your primary goal is to have a fully worked out, set-in-stone plan, you are only upping your chances of being unoriginal. Moreover, you cannot plan your way out of problems. While planning is very important, and we do a lot of it, there is only so much you can control in a creative environment.
In general, I have found that people who pour their energy into thinking about an approach and insisting that it is too early to act are wrong just as often as people who dive in and work quickly. The overplanners just take longer to be wrong (and, when things inevitably go awry, are more crushed by the feeling that they have failed).
There’s a corollary to this, as well: The more time you spend mapping out an approach, the more likely you are to get attached to it. The nonworking idea gets worn into your brain, like a rut in the mud. It can be difficult to get free of it and head in a different direction. Which, more often than not, is exactly what you must do.
I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.
The most consequential assumption behind all his work (ed. Don Norman, leading authority on design and usability) is that even if human error is to blame, it is hard to imagine any human not making these errors. Humans might fail—but they are not wrong. And if you try to mirror their thinking a little, even the stupidest and strangest things that people do have their own indelible logic. You have to know why people behave as they do—and design around their foibles and limitations, rather than some ideal.
His great insight was that no matter how complex the technology, or how familiar, our expectations for it remain the same. […]. This is what you have to understand if you are to design an app that people can use the first time they try it, or a plane that humans won't crash, or a nuclear reactor that humans can't cause to melt through the continental shelf.
The creative act is a letting down of the net of human imagination into the ocean of chaos on which we are suspended, and the attempt to bring out of it ideas.
It is the night sea journey, the lone fisherman on a tropical sea with his nets, and you let these nets down - sometimes, something tears through them that leaves them in shreds and you just row for shore, and put your head under your bed and pray.
At other times what slips through are the minutiae, the minnows of this ichthyological metaphor of idea chasing.
But, sometimes, you can actually bring home something that is food, food for the human community that we can sustain ourselves on and go forward.
[Many people] think it means accept failure with dignity and move on. The better, more subtle interpretation is that failure is a manifestation of learning and exploration. If you aren’t experiencing failure, then you are making a far worse mistake: You are being driven by the desire to avoid it. And, for leaders especially, this strategy — trying to avoid failure by out-thinking it — dooms you to fail.