I previously blogged about Changing Our Questions. This morning I discovered an ideal situation to apply this approach to creativity. Timothy Johnson has launched a "Creativity in Business" college class and has already encountered lots of student procrastination. Having taught beaucoups college classes myself, I'm no stranger to this problem, but I've played around with it many different ways. Here's how I've learned to change my questioning of student, or my own, procrastination.
- At first, procrastination appears as an obvious, known problem to react to and deal with. In that case, I have "no further questions your Honor" and I'm dealing with lemons obviously. If I question all this, procrastination becomes a partially known problem (incomplete) to explore and get creative about. Then "I'd like to cross examine the witness your Honor" and I'm dealing with lemonade by choice.
- Procrastination appears as a question of not getting work done promptly and falling short of steady accomplishments of tasks. I can then question how to play around with this, to see it in a new light, and to discover other frames of reference to use with this.
- Procrastination appears as something to put a stop to, oppose without question and resist until it decreases. I can then question whether I am feeding the problem by opposing it or "persisting by resisting" it. I can wonder what difference it could make to give it "go" messages, ways to learn from it and permission to continue until it makes more sense.
- Procrastination appears as deviant behavior when I'm in charge of policing conformity. I can question whether I am acting like a control freak when I could be encouraging different voices, viewpoints and experiences.
- Procrastination appears as something losers do in a game with a clear cut way to win. I can question whether the context I've created is based on one way to win, one right answer and one rule to play by -- instead of many ways to win and many ways to see what's occurring.
- Procrastination appears as a side effect of pressure to conform, comply and meet deadlines. I can question whether pressure is devastating the sense of balance, timing and freedom in this.
- Procrastination appears as procrastination - no two ways about it. I can question the paradox being presented and wonder if procrastination is the flipside of incubating an inspired approach, perfecting a better approach or anticipating a combined approach (that kills two birds with one stone).
When we get creative, nothing is only as it appears. Everything is an opportunity to redefine the problem, change the meaning, or apply a metaphor. We get creative whenever we change the questions.