Creativity is hard work
It was a genius pass from Skube! It was unexpected and surprising to the opposing team and the spectators but not to Peter Bredsdorff and the rest of the team.
Nøddesbo didn’t look the least bit surprised when he received the pass. He was ready to catch it, jump up, turn around and smash it past the goalkeeper. Later, over a cup of coffee at his house, Nøddesbo explained to me that creativity and unexpected passes are dependent on you knowing exactly how your teammates move and what they might do when they have the ball.
Agreements, structures and predictability are the building blocks of creativity on the handball pitch. Skube knew that Nøddesbo at that very moment would wedge his body into the narrow space between Sønderjyske’s right back and central defender, and Nøddesbo knew that the pass could come from Skube even when he was moving in the opposite direction and had his back towards Nøddesbo.
They knew this, not because they can read each other’s minds but because they have spent hundreds of hours on the training pitch and know each other’s patterns of movements and ideas.
Though creativity on the handball court often seems to arise out of unplanned in-the-moment impulses and genius individual ideas, I would argue that this is not the whole truth. If you look a bit closer and follow the team throughout their daily routines it becomes apparent that creativity more than anything else, as Peter mentioned, grows out of agreements, structures and a solid foundation.
Creativity is not so much about being able to think outside of the box – it is rather about the ability to act skilfully and with precision inside of it. When structures and playing systems, through endless repetition, are embedded in the players’ body memories, it becomes possible to predict your teammates’ thoughts and moves to the point where you can blindly throw the ball over your own shoulder and into the hands of a waiting teammate. That’s creativity! But it doesn’t belong to the individual rather than the group, to freedom rather than structures, and to the exceptional rather than the ordinary. In BSH, creativity is a team effort. It’s hard work. Every day.
I think the same goes for Systematic though the conditions are completely different. In Systematic as well as in BSH, new ideas and creative solutions come into being during the execution of everyday work tasks in the team. But contrary to BSH, Systematic doesn’t have a training pitch to develop and incorporate new ideas into their daily work routines. As a consequence, employees and teams create their own spaces for sharing, testing, developing and implementing creative initiatives. In Symbology (the team I most recently followed in Systematic) they developed the concept “Mixed Technology Arts” or MTA. MTA is a team meeting without the participation of the project manager where team members discuss and develops ideas, creative suggestions and team standards.
In Symbology (the team I most recently followed in Systematic) they developed the concept “Mixed Technology Arts” or MTA. MTA is a team meeting without the participation of the project manager where team members discuss and develops ideas, creative suggestions and team standards.
To my mind, Symbology has created a sort of training pitch for new thoughts and ideas to be tried and tested – a recurring organizational disruption in the daily demands to productivity free of deadlines, feature requirements and agile scrum processes. With MTA Symbology are taking their time and their space to improve the existing and turn creativity into a team effort. Perhaps your team could do the same?
Oh yeah, in case you were wondering… BSH did win the game! A comfortable and undramatic victory. 32-21. All according to plan.