Have you ever had one of those days when you don’t have one original thought in your head? Well, when I get stuck, in a creative black hole that just keeps getting bigger and bigger, I often ask myself: What would Wilco do?
Yes, I’m speaking about the original alt country rock band that has since become the hallmark of experimental and progressive rock. You Wilco fans know what I’m talking about. Jeff Tweedy, the original founder and songwriter, throws a song to the band. They pull and gnaw at it like sharks on chum. Then the band arranges the song and records it. But that’s only the beginning. They then take a few steps back and begin to examine and question everything. As a group, they break the song down to its core, deconstruct it, then rebuild it by approaching the music from different angles, testing a variety of tempos and keys, trying to find the true essence of the song. They question everything. And you need to do the same in your creative, personal and professional life.
Those of you managing an in-house design team can also benefit from this approach. Audit your department on a regular basis. Meet with your team and open up a dialog. Take a hard look at your business and ask the right questions.
● What do we need to start doing?
● What do we need to stop doing?
● What do we need to keep doing?
● What could we be doing better?
● What makes us difficult to do business with?
● Can wasteful and inefficient processes be eliminated?
● How can we remove distractions or obstacles that are cluttering up the process?
Track your activity levels and look for trends. Where are there peaks? Where are there valleys? Do you continue to attract new clients, or are you losing them?
You can’t afford to be complacent. You and your team have to continuously examine and analyze your business and find ways to optimize your services to stay competitive.
Wilco has been around for over 20 years, and they remain relevant because they’re always moving forward, always changing, to make music with depth and soul. If you need further proof, rent the Sam Jones movie, “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,” a documentary that captures the band recording their seminal 2001 album, “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.” You’ll get a glimpse at the life of the band and especially Jeff Tweedy’s creative process as he struggles to bridge the contrasts between art and commercial success.
Glenn John Arnowitz is Director of Global Creative Services for Pfizer and co-founder of InSource. He is a designer, musician, composer, writer, actor and speaker, always looking for new ways to scratch that insatiable creative itch.