I love creativity, but all in all being creative is a bit overrated.
Editing, tweaking, building on an idea is terribly underrated.
Many called Steve Jobs an innovator. To thousands he is the face of creativity. I think Malcolm Gladwell got it right when he said in ‘The New Yorker’ that Steve Jobs isn’t a creator, but a tweaker. He is an editor. Jobs didn’t invent the mp3 player. He just perfected it with his iPod. Jobs didn’t invent downloadable music, but he took it to a new level with the iTunes store. Smartphones were out almost a decade before the iPhone, but once released the iPhone dominated the market. Even the iPad wasn’t originally his idea. He got fed up with a PC guy pushing their tablet and decided to show them what a real tablet would look like.
Some of the biggest success stories in the past 20 years for technology. This equipment changed our world. Absolutely none of it came from a Jobs original idea, but his ability to take another idea and change it. To see that a tablet with a stylus was ‘dead’ and make one that wouldn’t need it. To see that the functionality of an mp3 was clunky and weird.
Maybe instead of sitting in our office with a blank white board and a cup of coffee trying to think of the next theme, event, message, conference, etc. we should be building upon an idea that someone else had. Take a theme that another church used for camp and rethink it for your camp. Take an event that another person did and think how you could improve that event for your group. Take a part of someone’s lesson and take it in a different direction. Think about what they missed or what was weaker than it should be.
Should you call and ask permission? Is this stealing? I think calling and asking permission is usually a good thing, but not always necessary unless you are selling the idea. Certainly stealing happens all of the time in ministry, but I’m talking about radically changing an idea or even part of an idea not copying it.
Some of the biggest successes that I’ve had in ministry have come from taking someone else’s something and tweaking it. Many times I’ve changed it so much you wouldn’t even know that the thing originated from something else.
Stuck trying to be original? Try to be a tweaker of ideas instead.