Structure is not the enemy of Creative Flow.
Nor is Creative Flow enemy of Structure.
In fact, creativity and structure thrive together, even give rise to one another.
Creativity and Structure are like a river and its banks.
Without the structure, the water would be shapeless, and have no direction.
It would also be apt to flow haplessly, or run amok, and to drown all living things nearby.
“But,” it would say, “I’m water. This is what I do. I flow where I flow.”
Without the water, the rock would be barren and unyielding.
It would also be apt to crack, and burn away all signs of life.
“But I am Structure,” it would say. “This is what I do. What is my purpose but to be rigid and unyielding?”
Structure and Flow receive from the other what they lack alone.
The rock holds the water, and gives the water direction and power.
The water flows through the rock, and feeds it with energy and life.
The CEO and/or founder of the types of businesses I most often work with is typically a self-described Creative.
While also typically a “Type A” personality, they usually identify as a creative personality — and often tell me of their “love/hate relationship” with organization and structure in their business because of that part of their personality.
These creative personalities also often tell me about the peaks and valleys of their own burn out cycles, or their staff's high churn rate, or frequent team disharmony.
This is no coincidence.
When creative business leaders operate without enough structure, they believe they are “freeing themselves” to follow their creative impulses.
They believe they are liberating themselves to strike out on unique paths, or innovate per their talents.
In reality, when creative business leaders operate without sufficient structure, they are the river without its banks: flowing, yes, but without direction.
They're also often flowing amorphously, at the peril of the team around them, who must constantly try to keep their heads above the rapidly changing waters — or simply be overcome.
The loss of structure also affects their overall strength. Without a container, the creative flow spreads widely, dispersing, without momentum in any direction. This results in feeling spread thin — much output, little progress.
Creative flow is not independent of structure.
Rather, like the river and the banks, creative flow and structure are the yin and yang: they feed one another, nurture one another, support one another.
When one is underdeveloped, ignored, or completely forsaken, the other cannot compensate for its absence.
Stifle the creative flow, and your business will become rigid and apt to burn out.
Forsake all structure, and your business will lose direction and be apt to flood its team members.
Neither is effective, nor sustainable, nor scalable.
You need Flow. And you need Structure.
True for the river.
True for your business.