Accepting Iteration

The Columbus Museum of Art hosted a Creativity Summit this last week, and it was nothing short of incredible. My employer Zipline Logistics sponsored the summit, and as an attendee, I took away tons of value.

Infusing creativity into education was a major theme (which I’ll likely continue to blog about beyond this post) and I learned a lot that will benefit internal communications back at my office. Personally, I also learned about enhancements I can make to my own creative process.


Throughout the event we engaged in numerous group projects and thought provoking tasks. Whenever I entered into an assignment, I wanted to identify the correct answer as quickly as possible. Get it and get out, and be right. I became somewhat paralyzed when the activities focused on discussing ideas, not finding answers.

I had to force myself to look past finding the “right response.” There wasn’t supposed to be one! Activities were geared at encouraging abstract and deep thinking, exploration of opinions, and of course, creativity. But I still felt a sense of failure not being able to pin point a final answer.

We talked about failure too. In society there is a pressure to get things perfect the first time around. When you turn in a project, edits are a bad thing. There’s a pressure to get things correct right away. It can be debilitating. Many students immediately label themselves as non-creative, bad writers, or “not good at math” when they experience this interaction. They give up quickly and feel discouraged.

I certainly do this. If something doesn’t come naturally the first time around, I have a hard time working through it. I beat myself up and tear down my confidence. This creates roadblocks and drastically stunts my potential.

Yet the best ideas, solutions, and art all come from iteration. Rarely is the first idea or try the final solution. Group input and reworking lead to better final products. Why are students taught to believe otherwise? We are squashing so much potential.

It’s okay to start messy. Get messy in the middle. Scrap and restart something. Mess up. Mess up again. The most creative people try and try again. This isn’t failure! Going through multiple iterations to find a final product is simply the creative process.

This short film shows how a different teaching process that encourages iteration can lead to better outcomes and more confident, happy students.

I will be taking this approach of iteration back to my daily life. First of all, I’ll enter into projects knowing that I don’t have to nail them right away. With less stress and more confidence, I’ll be able to produce higher quality work. I’ll also build this mindset into my management style. Fostering open and honest feedback along with encouraging iteration will create a happier, healthier environment and better end results.

More to come about other lessons learned at the Creativity Summit!


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