A Scarcity of Surprises is the Result of Abundance

Tue, May 18, 2010

Blogs, Fearless Creativity

A Scarcity of Surprises is the Result of Abundance

When was the last time you surprised yourself creatively?

I recall a conversation with my Dad when I was 18; I simply couldn’t understand why he didn’t want to go to night clubs with friends because as I said then, “you never know what’s going to happen”.  His answer, “I think that’s just youth son, night club surprises don’t come frequently enough for me anymore.”

It’s no surprise that I’m not flummoxed by this as I was.  The scarcity of surprises increases with experience, or perhaps it’s a more accurate notion that surprises so abundant  progressively cease to surprise.

Which is it, scarcity or abundance? It’s essentially a scarcity shift. It’s as though we reside at the nightclub we once visited for the occasional surprise but now  it feels relatively ordinary as we live with noise and abundance; abundance that has created a shift in surprise scarcity.

I work with very talented groups regularly, but one particular encounter survives in me.  Out of nowhere our client said while viewing the daily images: “it always astounds me how you guys make ordinary things look extraordinary.”  It was true, the concept was potentially boring but not when we were done. We transformed it by tweaking the original concept so it had the likelihood of being extraordinary.

In another time, our finished photo was the scarcity we leveraged; today the finished-photo-value-curve points down.  Neither is a recorded song as valuable as a live performance; it’s hard to make a comfortable living selling your recordings so the performance had better be good.

In general, the scarcity shift is away from creative artifacts and toward creative performance. Can you establish the culture that creates, create the moment worth photographing, stage a performance that affects, or design the product that markets itself? What remains constant is that which begets great fishing not merely fish.

That enigmatic black box once so priceless to the creative supplier no longer serves us well.  No longer hidden behind a curtain, the value is what reliably turns the ordinary into extraordinary surprises.  Adding your value to the process should yield the performance surprises; it surpasses the original artifact expectation.

My point is a tweak away from “exceed expectations” but significantly so.  I believe scarcity is shifting toward those who not only exceed expectations but change the original expectations in surprising ways.  It’s because of new economic – we can find it when we want it -  abundance that the scarcity of extraordinary surprise is shifting upstream to creativity of performance and away from creativity of artifacts.

Creativity, Design Thinking, expectations, strategy, Talent

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