alcramer [Alfredo Cramerotti]

On Project Making

Posted in Tools.Coaching by alcramer on November 12, 2007

I’ll try here to outline a few basic facts for setting a creative project, like an exhibition, a research, or a writing piece. Being just only an outline, each single point has to be developed, broadened and deepened as much as you can, and linked with your attitude and experience in dealing with the subject. Let’s start:

1. Take upon only ONE project at the time. You might have many brilliant ideas, but make an effort in asking yourself which are the more urgent and important for you, and which, for instance, can bring you a financial fee, or a further step in a commission.

2. Once you have chosen the subject and the form your project will have, compare and couple your expectations with A) your budget and B) your deadline. Reverse your idea: money and time constraints are not limits, rather possibilities. They are powerful tools to get you focused.

3. To structure your project, you must go from the simplicity of the original idea (probably just an intuition, or a single-line image), to a whole complexity of inputs: lateral thoughts, external links, people feedback, practical and intellectual consequences, additional researches, etc. This process – to be contained in your time-frame – will make you relatively confident of your knowledge, and will give you different perspectives on the subject. After that, you have to re-compress your material into one, single, high-impact simplicity of expression, in which your work re-gain a goal within a system.

4. Execute your project to a completion, including details, feedback and final evaluation, within the reasonable time-set you planned in advance.

5. In your execution:

– Use simple words, in a direct way. No jargon.

– Be synthetic in your communication to partners and public. Attention requires brevity.

– Make an effort to TELL something, not just to present it. Be sure the structure of your project is clear and follows a logical course, or give the tools to understand if it’s illogical. No concepts or displays understandable only to their creators.

– Do not underestimate your public. Give them a topic which is valid and open to the dialogue, with you and among them. Offer great value for the audience’s time and interest. They could easily not come back if you are delivering poor content and/or form, and you’ll never get them again.

– Offer the audience something to bring home with them. It doesn’t have to be expensive, or cutting-edge: even a well-design leaflet, a postcard, an Internet address, a printed title on a string of paper. A bit of marketing doesn’t harm anybody, without exaggeration.

6. When you approach the next project, understand it as a whole body of knowledge, and not as a task, or assignment you have to make. This is fundamental also for activity like administration, fund-raising, or preparatory work.

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Simplicity

Posted in Tools.Coaching by alcramer on November 10, 2007

This is something I have written on ten pages A4, taped to the wall opposite my desk, to create a vertical totem. First of all, it’s not mine. the laws of simplicity have been nurtured and published in a marvellously-crafted little book by John Maeda, ex-MIT design guru.

But it’s not to talk about him that I started this post. It’s to give you a precious tool, the first of the series to come, which goes like that: do simplify whatever can get simplified.

At the cost of seeming banal, do take the path of simplicity in whatever you are doing, or planning to do. You’ll always be in time to complicate the matter, personally or through someone else. If you want to get close (at least) to achieve what you are planning, cut the 30% of your planned expectations, and consequently reduce to at least 50% your planned actions.

This is not a call for banality. It’s a call for concreteness. And getting concrete, means having results. Having results, means producing consequences. Producing consequences, means injecting stimuli for another projects, and future achievements. Not to mention that, having finished a work, means getting paid. Sounds good, uh?

Here are the 10 laws on a string: for more details, visit the lawsofsimplicity website:

First round – the basics to get simple:

1. Reduce: either shrink, hide, or embody (the simplest way to achive simplicity is through thoughtful reduction: when in doubt, just remove – carefully). Lessen what you can and conceal everything else without losing the sense of inherent value.

2. Organize: sort, label, integrate, prioritize (organization makes a system of many appear fewer: and working with fewer – objects, concepts, functions – makes life simpler). Everything is important, but knowing where to start is the critical first step.

3. Time: again – shrink, hide, embody (savings in time feels like simplicity: this is really about reducing time). When time is saved – or appears to have been – the complex feels simpler.

Second round – here comes the hard work:

4. Learn: basics are the beginning, repeat yourself often, avoid creating desperation, inspire with examples, never forget to repeat yourself (to easing the process of understanding: relate – translate – surprise!). Difficult tasks seem easier when they are ‘need to know’ rather than ‘nice to know’, so connect deeply to the greater context of learning and life.

5. Differences: simplicity and complexity need each other (acknowledging contrast helps to identify qualities that we desire). Figuring out the rhythm of how simplicity and complexity occur in time and space holds the key.

6. Context: what lies in the periphery of simplicity is definitely not peripheral (ambience: that which appears to be of immediate relevance may not be nearly as important compared to everything else around). When there is less, we appreciate everything much more.

Third round – if you are aspire at changing the world (almost):

7. Emotion: more emotions are better than less (just the right kind of more: ‘feel, and feel for’). Achieving clarity isn’t difficult. The true challenge is achieving comfort.

8. Trust: in simplicity we trust (lean back, and trust the water. And just enjoy something). Trust unquestionably, but be open to undo-ing that trust whenever deserved.

9. Failure: some things can never be made simple (knowing that simplicity is elusive in certain cases is an opportunity to make more constructive use of your time in the future, instead of chasing after an apparent impossible goal). One man’s failed experiment in simplicity can be another man’s success as a beautiful form of complexity.

A final Intuition:

10. The one: simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful

(which may be ‘coupled’ with 4 more keys in attempting simplicity, such as: more appears like less by removing it far away / openness simplifies complexity / power: use less, gain more / technology, as professions, can disable the average person.)

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Failure

Posted in shortEssays/cortiSaggi [English/Italian], Thoughts.Coaching by alcramer on October 29, 2007

Since it makes uncomfortable, failure among our contemporaries has no space. No room for development. No room for address. Failure –in other words– should not exist, according to the present society. Do we feel the same? We shouldn’t, of course. Theoretically each of us allows a margin of failure in life. But maybe not this time, we tell ourselves…

We feel that if we fail here (and now), we could jeopardize our future credibility. For instance, from where I stand it’s impossible to talk about failure in a positive sense, nor develop a notion of failure, without suspicion for whom is reading and/or approaching me.

We set our expectations on a high level, and we don’t even consider the possibility of not achieving them: and this works also for the expectation in the others. If I say to you than this space about coaching creative people could be a failure in pursuing its goal, you get immediately on-guard.

Hence, what is important in any activity, professional or personal, for duty or leisure, for ourselves and the others, is to attempt to dispense with the error-phobia that envelop us in a perennial mist. Not only we are scared of failing, in physical and mental terms, sometimes we even set up mechanisms of self-censorship. We don’t even allow ourselves to think we could fail, and things could go wrong. What does exactly mean things could go wrong?

When we expect something from someone else or some situation, we want to enjoy the most of it. We get ideas; we plan them, put to work and enjoy the results. Still, the possibility to fail is not harming anything. Failure is a precious space where we can stretch our boundaries and experiment with another dimension of living. In this sense, failure is a vital component of our experience of life.

I bet most of you feel now the urge to ask why should we fail? It’s not that we should fail in order to live better. We should simply allow ourselves the space, the mental dimension, of failure. We live in a win-win society, where one cannot afford to step into something wrong. For instance, we cannot bear the thought to lose our time following someone or something, which in the end disappears and leave us alone. This can happen in love as well as business.

In our deeds we invest feelings, time, money, and precisely because it’s an ‘investment’ we expect something back. A return, some results. We cannot conceive an action freed from expected effects, freed from the obligation to avoid errors. It hurts us to see and to think about our failure. We can bear only someone else’s failure. And we don’t want to be that someone else.

There’s a school of thought arguing that there’s no right to fail, but a duty to experiment. Fine. Does it mean that an experiment cannot fail? Why do we take away the word ‘fail’? We fail in studies, jobs, loves. We fail permanently, as well as succeeding. In writing these lines, I’m probably failing to communicate exactly my thoughts to you, completely or to some extent.

I fail a lot, as well as not. And I fail sometimes because I’m overly generating, and couldn’t fit everything in place and in time. Other times because I wasn’t able to carry out a commitment, or didn’t feel like, and my project, or task, collapsed on itself for obvious lack of will, time and resources. Other times again, I fail because I initiated something already doubtful, and it went worse and worse.

And in some occasions I managed to successfully complete something totally different from what I started. Is that a failure?

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