Limits and creativity run in the same circles. Desire to dig under, work around, leap over and push through is strong motivation to think anew. However, there are limits, that — hmm, — limit. Did you know that a major difference between moribund Detroit and high flyin’ Silicon Valley is the difference in how non-compete agreements are enforced? (Michigan enforces them, California limits them.) In the recent Carnegie Mellon University publication: “Renewing Globalization and Economic Growth in a Post-Crises World – The Future of the G-20 Agenda” Serguey Braguinsky and Steven Klepper write about various ways worker mobility can limit innovation on a regional scale. In addition to visa restrictions, social pressure and lifetime employment guarantees, they use the non-compete as a primary example of the damaging effects of limiting mobility in the United States. I’ve been on both sides of non-compete covenants. I’ve never particularly liked them, but never … Continue reading
Here is a Thursday Thought Experiment built around the question, “Who Needs Innovation Training?” This is about little ideas. Simple little ideas that can add up to big improvements in productivity. Little creative thoughts that flair-up only to be extinguished. When learning a new job, folks typically spend quite a bit of time in the HOW stage. (How do I get this done, Who do I talk to, What needs to happen…) They then move quickly through the WHY stage. (That short amount of time when what you have to do and what makes sense simply doesn’t match up.) And, if they last long enough, end up in the State-of-DO. (Easier to do than to question Why.) The more efficient your training the quicker employees end up in the State-of-DO. Organizationally this encourages a top-down pull innovation process instead of a bottom-up push innovation process.
You wouldn’t think a building with the world’s largest group of creative talent would need a Creative Paradox to shake things up, but we did. And, for a wonderful bit of time, we had Gordon MacKenzie. I was reminded of Gordon twice today. First when hearing of a friend’s frustration with ‘non-creative’ management and next while reading Gil Corkindale’s HBR post: Find the Creativity Hiding in Your Office. Gordon saw his duty at Hallmark to be loyally subversive.
Creative fire extinguishers are a normal part of our human nature. Change can be uncomfortable. New ideas can cause disaster. It’s natural to want to find ways to avoid disruption. It would be nice to develop an organization that would drive these tendencies out, but that won’t happen to these deeply ingrained habits. For each habit you break a few others will pop-up. Creative Fire Extinguishers don’t exist because we have developed bad habits. They are here to serve real objectives of stability that exist for individuals and organizations. So how do you keep Creative Fire Extinguishers under control? Know them. Understand them. Channel them. And then provide support for ideation and creativity to help overcome them. Truth is ideas should have to survive a rigorous review. There are bad ideas. There is unnecessary disruptive creativity. The point of controlling Creative Fire Extinguishers is to make that review process as … Continue reading
Change rapidly becomes personal. No matter how great an idea is for an organization as a whole, there are always going to be individuals who interpret implementation as a threat or as a waste of time. There are also going to be individuals who simply don’t ‘get it’ — at least at first. You may want to just ignore them or wish them out of the way. But this is a critical target group to understand. They are customers for your idea. You need to understand their motivations and fears and develop elements that address their needs. In many cases their concerns might help you focus development of your idea in a way that more clearly identifies and defines the advantages that will make the sale. It is dangerous to assume that those who don’t rapidly latch onto an idea are slow or simply wrong. Understanding their issues can smooth … Continue reading