Marketing Meditations from CMO Zen is a newsletter about marketing designed for founders.
Each edition brings you
- Something to think about
- A “How-To” resource help you improve your marketing capabilities
- A deep dive on marketing topics relevant to founders. In this newsletter, I’m gonna talk creativity. I think creativity is the secret to productivity and that (thanks in part to AI) it will be the currency of the future
Pull out your yoga mat, get comfortable, and enjoy…
Something to Think About
An “A” execution of a “C” strategy BEATS a “C” execution of an “A” strategy. I heard this in graduate school and I have yet to encounter an exception where I felt it wasn’t accurate.
One "How To" Resource
A playbook we often run with clients early on is a Watering Hole Analysis. Animals gather at watering holes to get what they need. It’s super helpful to have a systematic way of determining where your target customer goes to get information.
The link above will take you to a Process Street workflow. At CMO Zen, we document many of our playbooks as step-by-step instructions in Process Street because of how easy they are to share. This one’s yours for FREE!
A Marketing Deep Dive
Secrets of Creativity
We are naive to our next great idea.
Not knowing is really important.
If you’re trying to come up with an innovation, a unique never-before-executed concept, or an original idea, you need a beginner’s mind.
“Innovation requires not knowing—because you can’t—what the right answer is at the outset.”
There’s power in embracing this naiveté.
Personality psychologist George Kelly had the idea that human beings are like naïve scientists.
We arrive to life not knowing very much, so we experiment and test and establish constructs that form the architecture of our worldview.
Kelly was also a fan of the iterative approach to creativity.
To be creative; to rearrange our constructs in order to see the world in new and innovative ways, there’s a formula.
It’s a cycle and very scientific, because it is repeatable.
In fact, it’s constantly being repeated as we gain new experiences .
You may know it by another name. You may even have your own system for utilizing the process.
As soon as you reexamine how you think about the creative process, you will have activated it—by considering it, you will have already engaged in it.
There are two steps, and it’s important that you not try to do them simultaneously.
Step 1: Loosening
This is the brainstorm.
It’s the power of the open mind.
Here’s where you consider that your idea of how things are, your constructs, your worldview, your understanding, may not be 100% accurate.
Your constructs soften.
You consider ideas that fly in the face of what you would normally entertain. It’s the heart of what a brainstorm should be like.
Here’s where you ask yourself or your team for crazy ideas.
It’s essential that you make it safe enough (Google’s first step for producing effective teams) that people are willing to throw up really dumb ideas—I mean the absolute worst.
At this stage, you need to be open to the craziest, foolhardiest, backward, nonsensical ideas you can get.
Step 2: Constricting
The second step is to narrow down the ideas worth keeping.
You firm up your constructs around new ideas, see where they fit, and how this novel part relates to the rest of the whole.
Instead of being free of judgment, this step requires you to be very discriminate.
The time for open-mindedness is past and you need to ruthlessly prune until only the best ideas remain.
The cream rises to the top during constriction.
The hardest thing about applying the creativity cycle is to SLOW it down. Our brains are capable of completing an entire cycle — opening to a new idea and making a decision about it — in 1/20th of a second.
If you’ve heard someone comment, we have to go slow to go fast, listen.
Exercising the discipline to hold the door open long enough to fully loosen is often the biggest key to effective innovation.
There you have it.
The secret process behind every successful creative effort.
Learning the creativity cycle is easy.
Loosen. Constrict. Repeat.
Until next time… namaste.
Chad Jardine, Founder & CEO
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