Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Go With The Flow

The introductory paragraph of this article by Steven Kotler, author of The Rise of Superman, caught my attention as an important area of useful design practices.
'Researchers define flow as an “optimal state of consciousness,” a peak state where we feel our best and perform at our best. Some of us know this state by other names--”runner’s high” or “being in the zone” or, if you happen to be a jazz musician like John Coltrane, then it’s “in the pocket” -- but whatever the lingo, the experience is unforgettable.'
The focus of Kotler’s book and this article is to break down the scientific research on high performance, decant the critical factors or triggers and share these triggers so that individuals and organizations can utilize it to create more flow. In fact a major point he makes is that assessing the amount of time employees spend in flow is “the most important management metric for building great innovation teams”.

Flow triggers are broken into four categories: environmental, psychological, social and creative. Many of the seventeen triggers are well known and are also linked to some of my own research into defining critical success factors in design projects.  Kotler states that over one hundred years of research shows that flow sits at the heart of every athletic championship, underpins major scientific breakthroughs, accounts for significant progress in the Arts, and recently has become exceptionally critical to business.

As you study the triggers you will see their importance to the business of successful design teams, including shared clear goals, good communication, equal participation, blending of egos, familiarity, rich environment, serious concentration, an element of risk and immediate feedback.

Kotler offers this final advice at the end of the article.
'One of the most well-established facts about flow is that the state is ubiquitous--meaning it shows up anywhere, in anyone, provided certain initial conditions are met.  What are these conditions?  These 17 triggers.  It really is that straight forward.'

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