April 12

Innovation rarely results from putting all of your eggs in one basket. Typically, the creative breakthroughs you seek will result from conducting several small and diverse experiments, watching the results or responses closely, monitoring progress, then narrowing your options and adapting them until you get closer to something that works.

The experience of progress is key. When you focus all of your efforts on one big objective, progress can feel glacial. And, that uncertainty and weight can compound and generatenegative self-fulfilling stasis. However, when you center in on small experiments and everyday progress, it has a notable effect on your creative energy. As Dr. Teresa Amabile wrote in her bookThe Progress Principle, “In light of our results, managers who say—or secretly believe—that employees work better under pressure, uncertainty, unhappiness, or fear are just plain wrong. Negative inner work life has a negative effect on the four dimensions of performance: people are less creative, less productive, less deeply committed to their work, and less collegial to each other when their inner work lives darken.”

Small experiments represent small pockets of possibility and excitement. And, small acts of progress such as learning and iteration can buoy your creative energy and enthusiasm for your work.

Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Have a series of small, measurable creative experiments going at once.

What small experiments could you do with your work right now? Make a short list.

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