AEA12: The Five Most Dangerous Ideas

AEA12: The Five Most Dangerous Ideas Picture

There are truths about how the world works that creatives don’t like to talk about. We get angry and frustrated when we’re not granted the power we think we deserve, but there are often good reasons the world works ‘against us.’ This session takes these ideas head on, from how power truly works, to our unavoidable dependence on salesmanship skills, so we can convert them from frustrations into practical behaviors for empowerment and achieving our dreams at work.

Scott Berkun

  • Everyone is a designer
  • You have (no) power
  • Generalists are in charge
  • We are all in sales
  • Creativity is risk

01. Everyone is a designer

  • children
  • chef
  • conference organizers

Editorialized design that goes on throughout the world. (Thoughtless Acts? by Jane Fulton Suri)

All design involves trade-offs.

“Rats. My client thinks he is a designer.” If we get angry about that, then we are getting angry at human nature. Instead, think to yourself, “He is a designer, just an extremely bad one.” Thinking like this allows you to become a leader. Designers are ambassadors for good ideas.

Good designers are the only mentors for bad designers. Change your worldview. Teach the people around you to be better designers.

02. You have no power

What decisions are completely yours?

  • Artist - has total control
  • Designer - someone else makes some decisions, you make some
  • Advisor - make recommendations
  • Lackey - gets coffee, schedules meetings

If you have a small amount of control, you defend that limited territory and become defensive. The problem with hunkering down, is that you become less mobile. If you have little territory, fortifying it buys you nothing.

The more jargon, the lower the quality. Jargon is never focused on the work. It’s focused on making the user sound smart. Whoever uses the most jargon, has the least confidence in their ideas. Jargon is a distraction to ideas.

Power can be:

  • Granted
  • Earned
  • Claimed - If you go to the whiteboard first, you instantly gain power. You become the facilitator in the room.

03. The generalists are in charge

Specialization vs generalization

The meeting itself is a misrepresentation of how decisions get made. In room power vs out of room power. In many organizations, out of room power is more influential than in room power. The one on one meeting for coffee can nullify everything that went on in the room.

How much energy are you going to put behind your good ideas? Ownership, Accountability, Involvement. How much of yourself will you put behind your own ideas?

04. We work in sales (regardless of you job title)

Everyone has to pitch ideas. If your ideas are good, you are going to spend a lot of time getting rejected. Convince others of the potential value of what you are going to build.

These are all sales tasks:

  • Prototyping
  • Pitching
  • Evangelizing
  • Going to meetings run by someone else
  • Asking for resources
  • Giving presentations
  • Growing influence

“Talk to people you don’t like.” - Samantha Starmer, REI

Secret: we got into tech, so we can work with software, instead of all the people we don’t like.

If people think you are smart and useful your job title is irrelevant. People pay attention to your output more than your label.

05. Creativity is risk

We shouldn’t resist pitching because it will be rejected or difficult.

Who will:

  • Ask the tough question
  • Do the extra work
  • Be willing to fail, and learn
  • Put their reputation on the line
  • Commit to a big crazy idea

Question and Answer Session

At what age should this start? Kids are sloppy and messy but they are making things! How do you protect the creativity in kids, is a better question.

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About The Author

G. Brad Hopkins's avatar
  • G. Brad Hopkins
  • About Me: I bought my first computer - an Apple Performa 6320 - when I was in college and have been building websites ever since. These days I spend most of my time writing code and helping to bring interesting projects to life.
  • @gbradhopkins