Productivity and creativity have always been talked about as if they’re two sides of the same coin. You could only be creative if you didn’t have to think about productivity and vice versa. Joe Brown, senior portfolio director at legendary design firm IDEO, thinks that conventional wisdom is faulty. Brown has spent years not only designing products but designing the systems in which those products live, and he’s learned that creating an infrastructure that separates your creative and productive work is less than the sum of its parts. In this episode of Productivity Confidential, we talked to Brown about where creativity and productivity meet—and how technology is making that convergence clearer than ever.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PODCAST:
TED BROWN: Deep work has been a consistent theme on the podcast. We’ve heard a lot of people talk about the need for people to be able to sit down and do the work they are actually meant to do instead of handling menial tasks, sitting in meetings, et cetera. What does deep work mean to you personally, and how has the prioritization of that for you impacted your career and your team’s during your career?
JOE BROWN: It’s interesting. I think that that deep work is something that has shifted a lot over time for me and that I’d say, early in my career, I had no deep work and as I entered IDEO and became a designer, all of our design teams are 100% dedicated to one problem in one project at a time. And, so, basically everything they’re doing is deep work. And as I’ve shifted from there into directing projects and directing relationships, what I actually find is that I have to schedule in deep work. That it won’t happen unless I hold an hour here or there to make sure that I’m getting stuff done, that I have the space to clear my head, to not look at email, to turn things off, to play rain sounds from YouTube in the background and just to plug away and start writing. In fact, one of my favorite things, I’m sure you’ve heard this before, the absolute blessing of a long haul, international travel for getting good stuff done. I do a lot of writing at IDEO, but almost all of it is on an airplane while action movies play in the background.
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