“…every creative effort is a bit like an A-Team episode. It requires four different mindsets – four distinct personalities with different skills and attitudes.”
This video presents one of the core ideas of Worklfow in under 4 minutes. If you prefer reading, a transcript appears below.
When I was a kid there was a famous series I used to watch, called The A-Team. In case you’re not familiar with it: it’s about a group of 4 guys, each with a unique personality and a specific set of skills. Hannibal was the man with the plan and a master of disguise; BA was a hot-headed muscle man and an excellent driver; ‘Face’ was a con artist with a soft spot for pretty girls; and Murdock was the barking mad pilot who could fly anything. And of course, every mission these guys had, somehow required most of these skills.
I was reminded of this TV series because in fact, every creative effort is a bit like an A-Team episode. It requires four different mindsets – four distinct personalities with different skills and attitudes.
Your Inner Creative Dream Team
Meet your personal creative dream-team: the dreamer, the explorer, the maker and the pro.
The dreamer creates ideas. He is playful, inventive and unpredictable. He has the superpower of starting with nothing, and ending up with something: a CONCEPT.
The explorer is driven by curiosity. He doesn’t invent – he discovers. He likes to learn, to practice, to experiment. His role is to take the raw concept, look deep into it, solve the difficult problems, and end up with a fully developed VISION.
The maker is a practical feller. He doesn’t invent – he’s PRODUCES. He can improvise, but he doesn’t come up with new ideas or take big decisions. His role is to start with a rough shape, and then slowly bring it to match the vision.
The Pro is the man with the PLAN. He likes keeping track, looking at the big picture and being in control. His job is to know who needs to do what when, for the process to run smoothly – and end on time.
Why do we get confused?
With that idea in mind, here are the two ultimate secrets to a smooth creative workflow: 1– you should strive for each of your personas to be REALLY good at his job; and 2– and this is the crucial thing- at any given moment, only ONE of them should be in control.
In my experience, most of the problems creatives tend to experience is the result of these personas trying to work at the same time, and interfering with each other’s progress. For example: the dreamer starts thinking of ideas – but as soon as he comes up with something, the maker jumps in and starts creating it; the explorer wants to stop and test some different options, then suddenly the dreamer comes back with a better idea and wants to change course; and the pro is yelling at everyone, saying there’s no time and we’re going to miss the deadline! (Which is exactly what ends up happening). Sounds familiar?
This is the kind of process that creates the confusion and frustration we’ve all experienced at one point or another. And the solution is to get really good at working with just one persona at a time; to almost feel like you’re actually changing costumes and switching personalities – like an actor. Once you get comfortable doing that, you can start getting to know these four personas individually: what each of them is good at, what needs to be worked on, what situations tend to trip them up, and so on. It’s a great tool for analyzing and improving your process.