Defining Creativity Podcast          [September 13, 2022]

S1E11: A Director of Innovation and Process Improvement for the
Indiana Department of Transportation's Definition of Creativity with:

Todd May

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“Every day, really, what I do is I listen to folks who are truly creatively trying to solve a problem. And some of those problems can be really, really major, right? We have a situation where a bridge gets hit or we have flooding to simplistic of filling potholes, and it’s really brought to the forefront to me that regardless of whatever that task is, people are trying to be creative to reduce their heartburn in some respects, but they’re also trying to get to a better solution and they’re trying to get to a better place.”

                                             —Todd May

Todd May, Director of Innovation and Process Improvement for the Indiana Department of Transportation, has a unique perspective of creativity, incorporating his professional and personal world. With interesting comparisons of DOT work with sports and the arts, Todd offers reflections from firsthand experiences interwoven with those of his children in baseball and dance. One observation made connections between golf, ballet, and the business of construction:

“You start seeing it in your mind’s eye before it actually happens. You start seeing the result of if the [golf] ball lands here, I know that it’s going to hit twice, check up and move to the right or to the left. And I think… watching ballet and being steeped in ballet through my daughter for so many years, she would see it in her mind’s eye before she ever tied her ribbons… she would kind of close her eyes and almost visualize in her mind’s eye what this is going to look like and then translate that from the abstract to the real. That happens in sports and I think that happens in my world of concrete and asphalt. People have to see it in their mind’s eye—kind of start with the end in mind and work to that and figure it out—and it’s pretty cool when it works out… That doesn’t mean that there’s not mistakes in between. That doesn’t mean that a dancer doesn’t fall or an actor screws up a line or a batter in baseball strikes out. There’s failures that happen. That just happens. That’s just life.”

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Chicago Cubs fan Todd May and New York Yankees fan Phil Ponella at Wrigley Field

“My definition of creativity is—regardless of the scope or the size of it—doing something that is new to you.”

                         —Todd May