Software development, writing, cooking, business strategy… all of these are fundamentally creative – a process that yields a product. And when it comes to the way we see these sorts of things – the ways we direct our attention and the things on which we focus – we can choose one of two things: a.) the product created, or b.) the process of creating it.
We can see the creative process as a.) a means to an end, or b.) the “end” in and of itself.
The real value is on the act, not the artifact.
It’s not that I don’t value the artifacts. On the contrary, I absolutely stress the importance of actually delivering – “doing the thing.” We get paid to deliver on our commitments, and I put very high emphasis on doing so on time, under budget, or within any other metrics, as defined.
My argument is against treating that product as the one-and-done holy grail.
Delivering on a commitment only counts one time. It’s a stepping stone. A moment in time. Achievement is never the end of anything, and shipping a produce once doesn’t mean what you’ve shipped will matter forever.
My argument, in other words, is against treating “the product” as “the finished product.”
A good thing is never really done. It either lives on, evolves, morphs and changes… or it dies.
So once those things – the deliverables – are out there, they aren’t really “finished.” A website, an application, a piece of writing, or a meal is never a stand-alone, static thing meant to exist in perpetuity. On the contrary, deliverables are merely point-in-time, short-term representations of the work done to date. Meant to be evolved against.
So the focus should not be on putting it out there and then ridding ourselves of it, wiping our hands clean of its creation, and moving on as though we have no obligation to its survival. On the contrary, creation should be viewed as an ongoing process – a “doing” rather than a thing getting done.
Creativity is the relationship to an idea or a team or a product, not the means to an ends in producing it.