Content Ninja's Weblog

An exploratory journey on the edge of newspaper evolution

‘Creative abrasion’ April 10, 2008

Filed under: content,innovation — contentninja @ 4:35 pm
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I admire author Scott Berkun’s “The Myths of Innovation” (O’Reilly, 2007). I’m reading it for a second time.

Berkun ( prides himself on making his points with stories, rather than dry academic discourses. It makes the content accessible to the audience. (That is, of course, what every writer worth her weight in soy ink or pixels aims for, too. If you can’t engage an audience, what’s the point?) 

What I enjoy perhaps even more than Berkun’s book are his footnotes. They aren’t just references to the books and articles he’s citing. The footnotes impart additional information, and often they’re funny. It mirrors the online experience, if you think about it. (Comparable to following links to additional info.)

Today I learned about “creative abrasion” from a Berkun footnote. It reads:

“An excellent exploration of the manager’s role in creative environments can be found in Jerry Hirshberg, The Creative Priority: Driving Innovative Business in the Real World (Collins, 1999). The book is based on his experience as director of Nissan design and explains the role of tension in creative environments (he calls it creative abrasion).”

Berkun was talking about how important the work environment can be to the creation and survival of ideas, and what the manager’s role is in creating that environment.  That includes “push, prod, cajole, share, inspire, and enrage as needed to give life to everyone’s best ideas.”

A couple of close co-workers provide the creative abrasion in my life, and more power to them. Some days I’d like to kick their cans to the curb over it, but I’ll live. Sometimes the best we can do is agree to disagree, but the debate itself feeds the creative process.  

Say, I need to do some reading/exploration in sociology — human societies, group dynamics, that sort of thing. Can anyone recommend good sources?