Execution is every organizations dirty little secret. Creative organizations and creative people are continuously attempting to balance feverishly meeting looming deadlines and still finding time to dream. We here at Collective Next were intrigued by the perceived dichotomy that exists between execution and creativity during this week’s Transcribe Live in the Lab.

Many artists, and creative people in general, are often stereotyped as not being good executors. The same is also true for process-oriented people; they are often regarded as not being very creative. Yet, creativity and execution are not mutually exclusive. In fact, we posit that they are mutually necessary. As stated by Joel Barker, a thought leader in personal and organizational leadership, “Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.”

Check out Grace Van’t Hof’s real time notes of our conversation above.

Artists are great dreamers, and true artists are also great executors. If a person or organization spends too much time dreaming, they do not advance the status quo for their ideas remain unrealized. It is also dangerous to only dream in a collaborative environment, for you may become completely disconnected and hinder the collective process. Similarly, people and organizations that focus too much on production instead of innovation may merely meet expectations, and are at risk of not even being able to do that. To be effective people and organizations must maintain a balance between the dreaming of new ideas and the execution of those ideas. 

Many people and organizations become trapped when segmented by others, or themselves, into one category or another (i.e. they are labeled either a flighty creative person or a deadline driven machine).  These labels often hinder people’s ability to find an appropriate balance.

When trapped, people and organizations may notice that they have a surplus of ideas, but nothing is being done with them or they may be completing many projects and just checking the box, becoming more and more disengaged.

We identified several strategies that may help you and your organization avoid becoming imbalanced. One idea is to assign a cultural advocate that can actively promote the balance of execution and creativity throughout your organizational culture. Maintaining openness to different viewpoints is also helpful, so everyone is given the opportunity and the responsibility to be both creative and productive.

What is your organization’s dirty little secret? We are curious to learn how you know when to dream and when to execute. We look forward to continuing the conversation with you.