E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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The Art of Adaptation Does Require Time

The Prague Astronomical Clock or Prague OrlojI am not too sure what happened yesterday, but it looks like the previous blog post I wrote over here on Mastering the Art of Creativity in the Workplace dragged some massive traffic all around and for that I am very grateful. So thanks much to all of those folks who visited the blog and checked out that article. Well, today, I guess I am back for more! If on that article I talked about creativity and how it is being affected by both constraints and boundaries, I thought today it’s probably a good time to talk briefly about the impact of time in the whole creative process. Specially, in an environment where more often than not one could surely benefit from the Joy of Pause and Reflect.

Some time ago I bumped into an article that included a reference to a short video clip where it was indicated how we, human beings, seem to become more effective at the creative process when we have got the constraint(s) of time. Essentially, meaning that we would use all of our creativity spark much more effectively when we are constrained by time than when we are not. I wish I could find the reference to that article again with the short video, but alas my memory is not playing nice with me at the moment and can’t locate it anymore. Perhaps folks reading this post may well know which one I am referring to and add the link to it in the comments. Thanks in advance, if you manage to locate it. [Appreciated]

The thing is that while that may hold true and rather accurate, I am also starting to think what would happen otherwise? I mean, what would happen if we wouldn’t have that time constraint in terms of how our creativity processes would work out eventually, after all. What would happen if in a business world where things seem to pass by at lightning speed, and without much of an opportunity for a breather, we would eventually take time out to pause and reflect, to let our creativity juices do their magic and serve us to address that pending business need or solve that business problem that seems to be escaping us time and time again, because we just can’t focus well enough with all that’s going on around us? 

Well, it seems like kids, once again, have the answer for all of us. Right there, in front of our eyes and at our fingertips, as usual. While I was putting together the previous article doing some additional research on Mastering the Art of Creativity in the Workplace I bumped into this particular short YouTube video, that lasts a bit over 2 minutes, titled Creativity Requires TIME, that explains the potential issues behind time constraints when engaging through a creative process, whatever that may well be. The video describes one relatively easy exercise that needs to be carried by a bunch of kids over a short period of time (10 seconds) and that very same exercise over a longer period of time (10 minutes). 

In terms of achieving the goal, that is, completing that particular task, the kids succeed through both rather nicely, but if you pay close attention you will notice how the magic happens when that time constraint seems to be longer, substantially longer, to the point that it allows creativity to take place in full force allowing all of the students to utilise their imagination, smarts and ability to create something beautiful in ways perhaps none of us would have envisioned in the first place: 

I know you folks may be wondering what does this blog post got to do with Social / Open Business and Adoption / Adaptation, right? Well, it’s got do very little, or a lot! If you think about how most businesses are approaching the adaptation of social software in a business context, you would notice how time constraints are rather common, to the point of becoming the norm. For most businesses, and social enablement teams, adaptation doesn’t have much time. It needs to happen yesterday, by everyone, and for everyone, in all contexts, at all costs, with no restrictions and never mind whatever the waves of adapters. If it doesn’t happen within the first few weeks, it’s a failure, and like all failures, it’s bound to be ignored, neglected and never to be looked at again. 

The reality is that adaptation takes time, usually an average of 6 to 12 months, before you can start seeing the very first results in terms of how knowledge workers may have adapted to a new set of behaviours and habits, while embracing a new mindset altogether of becoming a bit more open and transparent on how they work using social technologies. Yet, time and time again the business world, in general, already begins to demand results within the first month, of in the first week or two, if too pushy. In reality, what they are doing, without not realising much about it, is that they are shooting themselves on the foot, because that adaptation is not going to take place in such a short period of time and the sheer frustration that would come up as a result of it, from both the business (for not seeing results sooner) and the practitioners themselves (For being pushed back and forth, left and right, non stop), pretty much kills that adaptation effort in a split moment, just like we saw the creativity process being trumped down on that video clip with the restrictive time constraint put in place. 

Thus next time that people may push you around during the first few weeks of getting started into delivering results for your adaptation efforts of Open Business within your company, I would strongly encourage you all to show them this video clip that although dealing with the whole concept of creativity, I would venture to state that it would also be applicable to Open Business Adaptation, more than anything else, because, as with all knowledge work, Open Business Adaptation is, pretty much, a creative process.

And, as such, it would need time to both produce and deliver best, optimal results.

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