By Jack Martin Leith

The Creative Lifecycle is an organic model of creating the new and realising the potential of the new creation, using the analogy of human procreation and development.

Creating the new is what humans do

Something that sets humans apart from animals is our desire and ability to create the new.

Birds create nests, beavers create dams and spiders create webs, but birds can’t create webs, beavers can’t create nests, and spiders can’t create dams.

We humans, however, can create just about whatever we choose, although creating a web page is much easier than creating a web. Not only are we driven by an urge to create relationships, families, businesses, institutions, cathedrals and works of art, but we are endowed with the necessary equipment for doing so.

The human is a 'rig' for creating the new
The part of ourselves situated above the heart is concerned with imagining possibilities for value generation and world enrichment. The part located below the heart is concerned with manifestation and potential realisation.

When intent, our heartfelt desire to enrich the world, resonates with humanity’s unmet needs, the two parts unite, the value generation possibility is vitalised, and it moves into the physical realm.

Although this description of the creative process may appear simplistic, it’s the simplicity on the other side of complexity: the result of a lifetime of study (you can find some of my research sources listed on the Resources page), deliberation, experimentation and real-world application.

The Creative Lifecycle

The Creative Lifecycle uses the analogy of human procreation and development, which does not happen in stages. It’s continuous, and any stages we specify are just a convenient fiction.

For the purposes of this article we’ll imagine we’re writing a ‘having a baby’ book that’s divided into seven chapters: Readiness, Conception, Commitment, Gestation, Birth, Nurturing, and Realising Potential. Here’s a brief summary:

Readiness Are you ready to have a baby? Why do you want to have a baby? Is this the right time to be having a baby? What challenges will you face? How can you create the right conditions for conception to occur? When is the best time to conceive?

Conception One way or another, a sperm fertilises an ovum and conception occurs.

Commitment “Congratulations, you are pregnant.” This news forces a decision (commit or terminate?) and marks a transition from the realm of the unknown to the realm of the known.

Gestation Over a nine-month period, the zygote (fertilised ovum) becomes an embryo, which develops into a foetus.

Birth The baby is delivered (‘deliver’ being the correct verb for once) and takes its first breath. The umbilical cord is cut. Mother and baby are now separate entities.

Realisation The parents help their offspring become all that he or she can be.

Completion The offspring’s work is done.

The Creative Lifecycle

The seven stages from Now to New and onward towards the generation of maximum potential value

Readiness

This is why readiness work is carried out:

  • It converts the brief into a well-formed design specification for the work that lies ahead.
  • The extended project team becomes immersed in the demands and dynamics of the project.
  • A shared declaration of intent emerges.
  • It prepares the ground for the next stage, where Creative imagination is activated and a potent concept, one with the potential to generate maximum downstream value, appears.

Once readiness work is complete, the team is primed for the moment of conception.

Read a detailed account of readiness work

Conception

The readiness work, and the vision of realised potential in particular, engenders a state of awareness that enables team members to shut out interference from the D-field and open themselves to creative imagination.

Although I have been a vocal advocate of co-creation for three decades, I want to stress that an idea is conceived in the mind of one person. This is not a proposition—it’s how the creative process works. Other team members will develop the idea throughout the gestation period, but conception is a solo activity.

There are striking similarities between the conception of a fruitful idea and the conception that takes place in the womb:

  • A possibility exists for enriching the world in a certain way. (This corresponds with the ovum.)
  • Creative power—what Napoleon Hill calls creative imagination—is readily accessible. (This corresponds with the sperm.)
  • The union of possibility and creative imagination brings forth a concept having the power to enrich the world. (This corresponds with the act of fertilisation and the formation of a zygote.)

Commitment

This is a crucial decision point. Is each team member prepared to do whatever it takes to carry the concept through the process of gestation and bring it into the physical world? Is everyone ready to say “Yes” and proceed in faith, despite the ocean of uncertainty that lies before them?

“Faith is a much-abused term, often derided in modern secular circles as the blind obedience to some arbitrary authority. But it has a wiser and more useful meaning: faith as a critical but curious mind’s readiness to adopt a reality model (even if provisionally) for which there is less than absolute, empirical proof. I propose that this kind of faith is the necessary adaptation by any rational mind to the challenges of life in the real world in which reality presents us with far too much, far too quickly. Events, personalities and relationships that carry embedded meaning and value are not the sorts of existents that can pass any rigid absolute-empirical-proof test. All trust relationships contain a measure of faith. ”

Source: Jay Gaskill, The Dialogic Imperative
Commitment is an act of faith, and without the wholehearted commitment of team members and the project’s sponsor, the project is dead in the water.

Gestation

Once commitment has been secured, the process of gestation begins.

The team makes a rough drawing, three dimensional model, role-play, simulation, storyboard or other artefact. The purpose of this ‘pretotype’ is to bring the concept into the physical world, even if in a very crude form. This is an essential part of the manifestation process. The concept can now be shared with others, both inside and outside the enterprise. Their ongoing feedback will enable the team to enhance and refine the embryonic entity as it progresses through a series of iterations. (Sometimes the change is a journey metaphor is unavoidable.)

In an enterprise, the counterpart of unconditional love is unconditional service. Unconditional service is selfless action taken by an individual or group on behalf of others, motivated by a heartfelt desire to generate value and enrich the world.

Throughout the gestation period, the project team loves the embryonic creation like a mother loves her unborn child, providing essential nourishment and protection, and acting as its voice.

Read more about unconditional service

Birth

For the parents, the birth of a baby is a joyous and meaningful event, but it can also be painful, messy and fraught with danger.

The launch a value generator is no different. Towards the end of the gestation period the project team must make preparations for the birth, be ready for all eventualities and leave nothing to chance.

Realisation

This stage of the lifecycle is concerned with moving the creation through cycles of development and renewal, and realising the value-generation potential of the new creation. Those responsible for this work, notably marketing, customer service and innovation teams, revisit the value specification and seek to create maximum experienced value for each beneficiary group, using every means at their disposal.

Completion

With value-generation potential fully realised, the lifecycle is complete. This is a time to reflect, complete any unfinished business, and prepare for whatever is next.