Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Are You Jamming

In my last post, I talked about creating an open environment for creativity. I'd like to go into more detail by outlining what I consider to be an ideal creative environment using a real world example.

I first took an interest in drums when I saw a drum corp marching during a 4th of July parade when I was very young. I started playing in 4th grade and got my first full set when I was a freshman in high school.


When I was 14 my friend Andy and I started a band called Chiasmus with a couple other guys. It was in this band that I believe I learned the most about fostering creativity.

Between practices we would all come up with vague ideas for chord progressions, rhythms, bass lines, etc. They usually started as a single riff or rhythm. When we got together for practice, it would start with somebody presenting (playing) their "idea" to the rest of the band.

The rest of the band would then add parts to this original idea, whatever came to mind. Some things worked, others didn't, but eventually a part would always click. Once one part clicked it was always easier to add more and refine the sound.

In the process, the original idea could change. Often the end result sounded only slightly like it did when first played as a vague idea.

So, that's how it went. We would bounce musical ideas back and forth for hours. Eventually we would end up with a structured song without any hierarchal decision making within the band. There wasn't somebody in charge, or a single person who wrote the music. It was a pure collaborative process, musical brainstorming, jamming; whatever you want to call creating in an open environment.

What can we apply to credit unions from this?

In short, we need to Jam more.

True creative flow can't be accomplished without an environment that allows people to freeform ideas, bounce them off others, and refine it into something useable and of value.

This kind of creativity can be accomplished more easily when the process is collaborative. When there is not a fear of being shot down or told the idea will never work. Some of the greatest innovations have come from taking an idea that "would never work" and refining it into something that will.

Within this type of collaborative, open, creative, and worry free environment big ideas can surface. Big ideas that can change your institution and the industry.

P.S. A thanks to Brent Dixon for getting my mind on jamming :)


Ben Rogers said...

Band as latin rhetorical construct? I want to know where "Chiasmus" came from ...

Andy said...


I actually first hear the word in my Latin class. My friend Andy heard it while in one of his English classes on the same day. We just both really liked the way the word sounded and figured us both hearing it in the same day was a sign :).

Andy's teacher also described chiasmus using the phrase, "the first is last and the last is first" which just sounds cool too.

Nothing too Deep unfortunately haha