Thursday, July 22, 2010

Process and Magic

Much of what we do at work is about following a process. We do a lot of the same things over and over. This makes sense, because we all want to do good things, and when we follow a process, we think we can do good things more often. There are a lot of good things that can be reduced to a repeatable process. Processes can be measured and improved. Processes can be efficient and logical and comfortable. And we think we can control them and plan for them. We like that.

But great things don't seem to follow the same rules. Great things shake up our world. Great things, true insights, can start as wisps from the ether, and, being children of the right brain, may not even be expressible in words, at least at first. Greatness may start as mere intuition.

Great things need flirtation and romance and time. You don't churn out great ideas like sausage. And you don't go public with them, at least not right away, not if you want them to survive. Instead, if you have the slimmest inkling of an idea, you need to nurture it, to feed it, to protect it, to raise it until it is ready to fly on its own.

Greatness is often threatening, and people kill what they fear. It can be dangerous to bring a radical idea out into the light before it is fully formed. Instead, let it germinate for awhile. Let the darkness work its magic. Leave its care and feeding to you and those you trust.

Process is about visible, replicable mass production of something that worked in the past. But magic is about the unknown and undiscovered. It's what's hidden from view, and has yet to come into the light.


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