Artists love to experiment by trying out new techniques, tools and media. When I visit a gallery or museum, I am always paying attention to what artists have done and how they have conveyed their message. Sometimes something in nature inspires me. Sometimes, the manner in which a person sits inspires me to want to paint that position. Nearly every artist is like that. No artist wishes to paint the same thing, the same way again and again.
Sometimes a new technique works. Sometimes it does not. Occasionally the result is so bad I decide to paint over the canvas and try again. In my sculpting days, I would tear apart work I was unhappy with and start over.
Sometimes the result is wonderful and inspires a new approach to painting. Most artistic movements started through such experimentation.
In business, however, this kind of experimentation is much rarer. People learn how to do a task the right way and then do it the same way every time. They are uncomfortable about changing the way they do things. Often not doing something the right way results in reprimand. For example, if you are required to file a monthly report for your department, you probably do it the same way every month. Only the details of what you report might differ. Why not experiment? Try presenting information in a new way, including cartoons to illustrate results or formatting the report in a newer, more graphic manner.
Why not do these things? Probably because it would be more work, your colleagues might question why you are diverging from the standard approach and your boss might reject the new approach to reporting. Frankly, those are good reasons not to experiment at work!
In fact, young, small businesses often provide more room for experimentation. Management is still finding its way, and so is not so set. As a result, they are more likely to be open to new approaches and experimentation. Indeed, entrepreneurs launching new businesses are often flexible and experiment with ideas in order to tweak their businesses. This is why new markets are often initially cornered by innovative start-ups rather than big companies. The former are more willing to experiment.
Not an artist?
What can you do if you are not an artist? If you run your own business, experiment. Try out new ways of marketing yourself, doing things, selling. See what happens. Learn. If you work in a big organisation, encourage people on your team to experiment. You might do this by offering small rewards for the most creative report — simply to encourage people to experiment. If you do not have a team, be daring. Experiment now and again. See what happens. You may find more efficient and effective ways to work. You may also find that experimentation is more acceptable than you believe it to be! Start small in your experimentation and see what happens.
What is it like in your place of work? Is experimentation welcome or discouraged? I’d love to know!
image credit: thinking image from bigstock
Wait! Before you go…
Choose how you want the latest innovation content delivered to you:
- Daily — RSS Feed — Email — Twitter — Facebook — Linkedin Today
- Weekly — Email Newsletter — Free Magazine
Jeffrey Baumgartner is the author of the book, The Way of the Innovation Master; the author/editor of Report 103, a popular newsletter on creativity and innovation in business. He is currently developing and running workshops around the world on Anticonventional Thinking, a radical new approach to achieving goals through creativity — and an alternative to brainstorming.