The creative process has this image of being an act of artistic inspiration that quickly teleports itself to a marvelous finish with smashing result. I hear a lot of interviews and read a lot online that supports this myth. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, just that I’ve never seen it. What I have seen time and time again is the deep value of creative innovation that evolves through an iterative process that looks clearly at the realities and inevitable changes in conditions that any complex project encounters and continually applies fresh thinking as fuel.
Our current adventure developing the Spaceport America Experience is in this category. At the completion of the initial concept stage, we had a great story, and had met a tight budget and some unique requirements having to do with economic development in the host communities. And, we also knew it wasn’t quite enough. We knew we would have to plug in something that kicked it up a notch and we did. Then, there was a budget change, then new issues about site locations, then a new industry announcement and suddenly our first solution—the one we loved and had worked on for 3 months—was left high and dry. This, to me, is where real creativity begins. It’s about the ability to listen deeply, stay open to new ideas and above all not be attached to your own view. In order to do that, you have to have confidence and strength not to defend but to embrace.
I just spent 48 hours in New Mexico with our project manager Skip Palmer and our clients. We found answers…abundant answers! The result is an even better guest experience, an excellent site solution and a better operating model. There is no question that The Spaceport America Experience is going to be an accelerator for the new generation of space dreams. The reason is that the team creating it—and I mean all of the companies and individuals in Team IDEAS, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, Virgin Galactic, our space industry partners and the people of New Mexico—are proving able to look beyond our initial perceptions, our knee-jerks, our attachment to concepts however appealing; and see that there are lots of right answers to pick from. That’s real innovation- the act of bringing something to be that never existed by skillfully using the means, minds and conditions that are really available with a strong dash of great storytelling.