Friction, Traction and Vectors


There is a point at which staring at a problem and simply cranking away yields diminishing returns. The solution isn’t to continue to knuckle-down and hope to dig out of the hole using the same methods that created it. It’s to establish traction, and hopefully develop a new vector.

A vector has three qualities: (1) a starting point, (2) a velocity and (3) a direction. When we are “vector-less” in our creating, it means that we either don’t understand the problem (the starting point), we lack movement (velocity) or we are uncertain of where we should be putting our effort (direction).

Whenever there is a problem in our creative efforts, whether individually or collectively, it can be tremendously effective to analyze these three qualities to see where the problem lies. Some questions to ask include:

– Do we really understand the problem? Can we state it concretely?
– Are we aligned on what the problem really is?
– What is the next action on this project?
– What is the most effective thing we could do right now (rather than the most efficient one?)
– Have we clearly and concretely articulated the “how“, or the creative strategy?

If you are unable to answer in the affirmative on any of these questions, it could mean you need to do some pre-work to establish points of friction and get moving in the right direction.

Additionally, sometimes tools can help. Accidental Creative has just launched a new product (in partnership with Be Creative Group) called Idea Traction. It’s designed to help creative teams (1) establish a clear starting point, (2) establish velocity quickly and (3) collaborate effectively, even when working from different locations.

The promise of Idea Traction is “meet less, create more.” We want to help teams get from zero-to-35 miles per hour on their projects in record time, and offer a space to share insights, stimuli, and potentially useful ideas as a starting point for collaboration.

Check out Idea Traction and let us know what you think. Regardless of the tools you use, please (PLEASE) don’t drift due to a lack of a clear starting point, a velocity or a direction. Be a vector.

Todd Henry

Todd Henry

Positioning himself as an “arms dealer for the creative revolution”, Todd Henry teaches leaders and organizations how to establish practices that lead to everyday brilliance. He is the author of five books (The Accidental Creative, Die Empty, Louder Than Words, Herding Tigers, The Motivation Code) which have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and he speaks and consults across dozens of industries on creativity, leadership, and passion for work.

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