To do original work don’t have rules, have ruling values

burning man

“I’ll know it when I see it”. That is a common expression of something that we think is novel and distinctive. When we see or experience something truly original, it is surprising. But how many times in a day, week, month or year are you authentically surprised?

Rarely I assume.

How can we change that? Well, let’s start by asking a simple question: What does it take to do original work?

I don’t believe there is a “For Dummies” methodology, but I do believe that you can have ruling values to direct your creative power. What do I mean by ruling values?

Ruling values is what you stand for. For example, among the things Burning Man stands for is “radical inclusion”. To them, anyone can participate. This means ideas from anyone are welcome, no matter how radical. And if anything holds true, the more radical the better!

Anyway, the way I like to go about it, is to ask myself a few questions to evaluate the work I want to deliver:

  • Is it different?
  • Is it distinctive?
  • Is it good? (the criteria to evaluate here is “useful” and “valuable”)

Why is this such a short list? Because you want to take action. Not reach analysis paralysis.

What is not different is not strategic

Remember, original work doesn’t fit into a box. It breaks the box. Take business schools, for example. Business schools teach strategy and innovation, but most don’t practice what they preach (neither do most of the academics that are responsible for teaching). Their questions for validation look a whole lot different than these. And I’m pretty sure they have some financial models attached to them.

To change the game you need courage. And, questions, like the ones above, are focused on bravery. Not certainty.

Bottom line: The most surefire way to do original work is to break from convention. And it comes down to simply asking: why, what if and why not?

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