Maria Shanina
Working in phases: creativity and planning

In career development conversations with my clients, I started seeing a pattern when an individual performs different types of work depending on the phase of the project they’re working on.

In his book “Loonshots” Safi Bahcall suggests an interesting approach to distinguishing the roles of those who are responsible for planning and executing product delivery to customers and those who are responsible for generating ideas. I find the reflection of this approach in the routine of individuals who primarily work solo.

Drawing from the designer’s experience, we can see that this type of individual's work involves constantly shifting efforts between the phrase of creative search and ideation that alternates with the phase of planning and execution. During the focused time when the designer is in a creative flow, they are in a phase of generating ideas. After ideation is done and selected ideas need to be polished, the designer begins performing a different set of actions to plan the delivery of their creative outcome to the audience.

The same principle is also applicable to the work of small companies. Sometimes in a small company, a person can wear many hats contributing to different parts of the project, including ideation and planning, hiring and project development. In case of people deficiency, small companies can learn from individuals’ experiences and practice shifting efforts over time. For example, a small company might choose a week and allocate its resources to exploration, research and gathering as many insights as possible to ideate on new ideas and innovate on their product or service. At the end of the week, they change their efforts into planning and execution intending to transform the identified ideas into a product and deliver it according to their plan and strategies.

I find it interesting to look at different phases of the creative process and how they constantly take turns during the project work. What I find even more interesting is that the same process can work well for big companies that have a good amount of employees. For example, when companies need to allocate resources, such as time or talent, to brainstorm ideas through ideation and research so that later they could build and deliver them on the market through planning and execution.

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