Agile creativity is the sweet spot at the intersection of planning and improvising. I propose that’s the intersection from which skilled mediators work much of the time.
David Armano, whose influential marketing blog, Logic+Emotion, is a source of inspiration about creativity, design and user experience, says this about agile creativity:
Agile Creativity is about planning for a variety of scenarios—anticipating and developing a strategy, but not being so rigid as to lose the capacity to improvise when things don’t go as planned. In the overlap exists a state of agility, founded off a core set of guiding principals—yet flexible enough to adapt to changes in the creative ecosystem.
That’s apropos thinking about the art and craft of mediating, too. Skilled mediators are agile, able to anticipate, able to work from a plan of sorts, yet also able and willing to let go of that plan when it makes sense to do so. I say to my mediation students, “Hold on tightly and let go lightly.”
What does it take to become creatively agile? My list will never capture all the possiblities (so please leave a comment to add what I’ve missed), but these occur to me: Confidence balanced by humility. Knowing balanced by comfort with not knowing. Advanced skill balanced by the Zen-like beginner’s mind. Healthy comfort with stepping into the muck of a conflict balanced by a healthy respect for the power of conflict.
This post was originally written in November 2006 for the Mastering Mediation Blog.