Amy Wilkinson – The Creator’s Code

Without exception, creators describe their work as doing something much more than achieving financial ambitions—they aim to make a mark on the world.

Creators are not born with an innate ability to conceive and build $100 million enterprises. They work at it.

1. Find the Gap: Creators spot opportunities that others don’t see. They keep their eyes open for fresh potential, a vacuum to fill, or an unmet need.
2. Drive for Daylight: Creators focus on the future, knowing that where they go, their eyes go first. They focus on the horizon, scan the edges, and avoid nostalgia to set the pace in a fast-moving marketplace.
3. Fly the OODA Loop: Creators continuously update their assumptions. In rapid succession, they observe, orient, decide, and act. They master fast cycle iteration and in short order gain an edge over their less agile competitors.
4. Fail Wisely: Creators understand that experiencing a series of small failures is essential to avoiding catastrophic mistakes. They set what I call failure ratios, place small bets to test ideas, and develop resilience. They hone the skill to turn setbacks into successes.
5. Network Minds: Creators bring together the brainpower of diverse individuals through on- and off-line forums. They harness cognitive diversity to build on each other’s ideas. To do this, creators design shared spaces, foster flash teams, hold prize competitions and build work-related games. They collaborate with unlikely allies.
6. Gift Small Goods: Creators unleash generosity by helping others, often by sharing information pitching in to complete a task, or opening opportunities to colleagues. Offering kindness may not seem like a skill, but it is an essential way that creators strengthen relationships. In an increasingly transparent and interconnected world, generosity makes creators more productive.

Types of creators:
* Sunbirds transport solutions that work in one area and apply them to another, often with a twist.
* Architects recognize openings and furnish what is missing. They spot problems and design new products and solutions to satisfy unfilled needs.
* Integrators build blended outcomes by melding existing concepts to combine disparate approaches.

Making comparisons helps people utilize what they already know. “Instead of saying, ‘Damn that didn’t work,’ ask, ‘What parallel can I draw?’”

Sunbirds don’t allow social or market stigmas about how things get done in a certain field to dictate the way something might be repurposed.

Thinking back to a similar situation in the past often pushes ideas forward. Sunbirds evaluate how and why a strategy worked in the first place and what it will take to translate to a new arena.

Architects start by looking for what is not there. Instead of focusing on existing solutions, they hunt for what is missing. They listen for silence and pay attention to what others ignore.

First principles are fundamental elements upon which a theory is based. Reasoning by first principles requires that gap-seeking Architects identify assumptions one by one and understand what is challenging about each element.

“Where’s the pain?” Architects ask, believing that once you identify a problem, you’re on the way to solving it. They uncover opportunity by staying alert to irritations.

“If you didn’t know how it was done, how would you do it? Wipe everything you know clean. How would you do this if no one else showed you how to get it done.” —Sara Blakely

Integrators don’t haphazardly meld elements. They don’t simply expand categories to add new and different items. They fuse distinct pieces, with a focus on filling a specific gap.

See possibilities by evaluating elements independently to decipher how individual pieces might be joined differently.

Integrators also uncover opportunities by combining contrasting ideas. Merging opposites can yield breakthrough discoveries.

The creator’s most important tool is curiosity. Bold and incisive inquiry sharpens the mind and senses and leads to unexpected discoveries, fresh opportunities, and aha! moments.

What surprises me? What am I missing? How can I remove the impediments? What paradoxes do I see?

People who are pursuing goals focus on either what remains to be done or how far they’ve come already. Although both can increase motivation, to-go thinking accelerates accomplishment.

Creators build towards where they are going, not where they are. This requires anticipating trends and making investments to setup success. Creators focus on the horizon. They are never complacent. They move quickly to build the next thing.

Creators willingly abandon a legacy, even a powerful one that brought them success. They avoid nostalgia. Whether its a fond memory or a comfortable approach, they refuse to let history hamper progress.

Creators decide what not to do every bit as much as they prioritize what is next. Ruling out distractions eliminates obstacles.

OODA loop: Observe, Orient, Decide, Act

Peter Thiel: “One rule of thumb is to take over a fairly narrow market with a technology that is ten times better than the next best thing.”

Creators build loyal teams consisting of people with fiercely independent opinions. They foster open exchange of ideas across functions and departments and cultivate vigorous debate. Too much consensus is a recipe for disaster
xref: Strong views, weakly held.

Reid Hoffman: “If you’re not embarrased by your first product release, you’ve launched too late.”

Jessica Herrin: “How do I fire bullets before cannonballs so when I recalibrate my target, I still have gunpowder enough to do the big thing.”

Creators test ideas in low-risk experiments and quickly, creatively, and inexpensively gather insights to determine whether or not a product or idea will take off.

Creators set time and financial limits to know when to pivot.

Eric Schmidt: “Our goal is to have more at-bats per unit of time and effort than anyone else in the world.”

Knowing that multidisciplinary teams using a variety of technology platforms are the future of work, creators design physical and virtual spaces where people can build on each others ideas.

Working with people who are “different” improves our own performance. By engaging with diverse minds, we become more alert to information, more open to reevaluating our own assumptions, and more attuned to solving the task.

John Hennessy: T-shaped people, those with depth in a certain area as well as the breadth and curiosity to speak the language of other disciplines.
xref: Foxhogs

Bob Langer: “Gifting small goods deepens relationships and broadens connections, but creators stay productive in pursuit of their own work.”

High achievers interacted constantly. Their ability to help colleagues earned them respect and social status, and their willingness to ask for favors helped them work more efficiently.
xref: Give & Take by Adam Grant

The cornerstone of creators success is their unshakeable belief in their own abilities and powerful desire to bring change to the world. It takes optimism, figuring out what needs to be done, then taking action.