Whatever your intended creation, waiting around for some muse to fill your tanks with high-octane creative inspiration is a sure-fire recipe for disappointment. You need a light-weight, easy to apply, effective process to guide your creative action.
Zestware’s CREATE method, which I facilitate, is based on a simple and easy-to-recall acronym. CREATE expands into the following steps:
Choice: The world seldom tells us exactly what to create. We have to prioritise and choose from the numerous options available. Your creative desires, market research, and decision-making techniques are raw materials for creative choice, but there comes a time when more information does not provide greater decision-making power. If you can say with absolute certainty that a new product will be successful, your chief competitor already has the major market share. Ultimately we must choose or be damned!
Resources: Creating a resource inventory might sound like a drudgery worse than a poke in the eye with a fried hake and chips. But done in a creative way, exploring resources can be both fun and informative. List what you have, what you need, and what you must acquire. Resources include skills, personal and professional networks, materials, venues, time, and numerous other tangible and intangible requirements for bringing your creation to fruition.
Exploration and Experimentation: The world is your laboratory. Useful sources of ideas are the Internet, other people, books, magazines, newspapers, movies, and interesting places like museums and universities. Write, sketch, or prototype anything that seems relevant. Consider “problems” as design challenges, and remain open to possible solutions that emerge.
Assembly and Actualisation: Pull together everything from the previous phases and in the words of Captain Jean-Luc Picard: “Make it so!” Challenges may arise at this stage, requiring you to revisit previous steps. That’s OK, cycling between steps keeps you creatively agile, as long as you are always moving the creation forward.
Transmission: At some point you need to Transmit your creation outwards, because the whole point of entrepreneurship is to bring value to the world. Releasing your creation to its intended target market is also a way to get valuable feedback. For every person who considers Microsoft’s Bill to be the Gates of heaven itself, there is another who would dearly like to hit him with a large rubber mallet. But it cannot be denied that Microsoft has made a sizable fortune by releasing products and using the feedback to create future versions.
Evolution?: Finally, you are faced with the choice of whether or not to evolve your creation. If is is complex, you could release a core feature-set, then evolve it by adding features through staged releases. Evolution might entail using your creation as a component for something new, and can itself be accomplished using the CREATE process.
This cyclic nature of the CREATE process reduces the stress associated with creative perfectionism. It allows you to take your best shot, and refine in a cyclic way, through real feedback rather than guesswork. Use this method to create processes, products, events, artistic works, software, web site designs, and other creations. In fact, the CREATE process was itself developed using steps similar to those described above.