Process vs. Product

billevansI’m interested in the business-minded pursuit of understanding creativity. I’m not sure what to do with it, but I’m interested.

One thought that keeps coming to mind: The creative processes that I’m most familiar with don’t start with outcome. I can’t help but wonder if this is why businesses are tripping over the concept and have such a hard time integrating it into their working environments.

Business, by its nature, solves a problem for someone. If there’s no problem to be solved, there’s no market. No market, no money.

The creative processes that business minds are trying to learn from start in a very different place. A place of expression, not fixing. Exploring the problem, not solving it.

If you have a minute contrast a few articles: This nice snippet from the book Universal Mind of Bill Evans: The Creative Process and Self-Teaching is the great Bill Evans exposing how sophisticated the creative process really is. How the problem is the thing. How jumping ahead to the end of “a thing in a way that is so general [that you] can’t possibly build on that. If [you] build on that, [you’re] building on top of confusion and vagueness and [you] can’t possibly progress.”

Contrast that with this article where Webby Awards founder Tiffany Shlain walks us through what seems to be a rather linear process for her. Not that she isn’t brilliantly creative. She is. But there’s a difference here. Bill Evans is engulfed in the problem while Shlain clearly has a finished, tangible product in mind. Shlain focuses a the project, the making of a thing so solid it has an armature, a thing that needs to marinate, something to snuggle.

Which begs the question. Is the creative process in the expression-first art world an applicable model for the market-first business world?

Just starting to put some of these thoughts out there (involved in the problem). What do you think?

P.S. Not for nothing, but my favorite Bill Evans album is The Tokyo Concert.

Image: Creative Commons. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Must_Believe_in_Spring