Process vs. Creativity
What is it about the startup process that is so exciting? Maybe its the blank canvas in front of you, waiting for direction and that first splash of color as you start out to build something grand. Or maybe its the control you have over your own destiny, to build something that is yours. For me, I think it’s the activity of building something.
Whether or not I own it entirely is not as much of an issue – I enjoy working with a team, utilizing the best ideas from a group of minds rather than relying on my own limited understanding of all of the issues that may come my way.
I’ve often told people, "I’m a process guy." Given my experience in program and product management, most people would agree with that statement. But can’t you be process-oriented and still be creative? I also think of myself as a creative person — and idea guy. Can’t you be both? What about the JAD/RAD process? Or agile and iterative programming models? All processes — all designed to funnel the creative juices down into a productive, measurable model for work. So why do most people think the two are mutually exclusive?
There was a guy in my MBA program (Mitch, who worked at Alza) who left me with a key piece of wisdom that I have never forgotten, and which has become the guiding principle in my worklife, about managing the process and creative aspects of work: "Processes are rules to live by, not rules to die by."
To me, it means you should use what makes sense to move forward with your project, and not get bogged down in self-inflicted bureaucracy. Is it essential to your project? Does it help you to refine your product? Does it improve the customer relationship? If not, what are you really building? Are you dying by the rules, just for the sake of the rules?
(reprint from my other blog, 021706)