Creativity as Stocks and Flows

stonesHow “[s]mall things, over time, can get big” (Kleon, 2014, p. 64):

‘Stock and flow’ is an economic concept that writer Robin Sloan has adapted into a metaphor for media: ‘Flow is the feed. It’s the posts and the tweets. It’s the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that remind people you exist. Stock is the durable stuff. It’s the content you product that’s as interesting two months (or two years) as it is today. It’s what people discover via search. It’s what spreads slowly but surely, building fans over time.’ Sloan says the magic formula is to maintain your flow while working on your stock in the background.


In my experience, your stock is best made by collecting, organizing, and expanding your flow. Social media sites function a lot like public notebooks — they’re places where we think out loud, let other people think back at us, then hopefully think some more. But the think about keeping notebooks is that you have to revisit them in order to make the most out of them. You have to flip back through old ideas to see what you’ve been thinking. Once you make sharing part of your daily routine, you’ll notice themes and trends in what you share. You’ll find patterns in your flow.

When you detect these patterns, you can start gathering these bits and pieces and turn them into something bigger and more substantial. You can turn your flow into your stock. For example, a lot of the ideas in this book started out as tweets, which then became blog posts, which then became book chapters. Small things, over time, can get big.