For me at least, it’s an odd blend of stress + free time. Personally, I need periods of both over each year to be sufficiently creative.
In business I think of two types of creativity — tactical and strategic.
“Tactical Creativity” is coming up with a great new feature, a new edition, a new price point, a new integration, etc. A great new evolution or enhancement. Personally, I’ve been the most “creative” here in times of stress. When things are easier, and/or with less time pressure, I am not sure you think as much about key incremental improvements. But the stress to close a bigger customer, to beat a competitor, to meet an annual plan … to me seems to bring out Tactical Creativity.
“Strategic Creativity” to me is coming up with brand new ways to do things, or brand new ways to evolve what you are already doing. For me at least, this requires blanks, white spaces, long walks and — breaks. When I am overloaded, I come up with 100 new tactical ideas, but few breakthrough new products or visions. I personally need almost to be bored to have “strategic creativity” moments. Without those “bored” moments, my mind at least is unable to wander enough, and see far enough into the future, to be strategically creative.
The net net is once you have a few great VPs, you get some of your Strategic Creative time back, that you had tons of in the early days. But as you scale, if you are the VP of Everything yourself, you lose that time.