Creativity in the business world involves continuously asking “What if . . . ?” Yet when faced with a problem, people tend to quickly lock into “how to” — a quick solution — before exploring all the options.
An easy way to measure the creative environment in an organization is to count how often someone in the company asks questions like “What if we frame the problem this way?” “What if we look at the relationships between these variables?” “What if we explore these options?”
Archives for 2010
Daniel Pink summarizes an insightful article in the latest HBR on what really motivates workers.
Here is the main idea, which is interesting because it goes beyond simply saying that intrinsic motivation surpasses external motivation:
Amabile tracked the day-to-day activities and motivations of several hundred workers over a few years and found that their greatest motivation isn’t external incentives, but something different: Making progress (or what Drive calls “mastery” — the urge to get better and better at something that matters.)
So a key motivator is making progress. Good insight. Pink gives some more helpful quotes from the article in his post as well.
The article is a part of HBR’s “10 Breakthrough Ideas for 2010,” and I think you can obtain (purchase–sorry) it here.
They haven’t made a final decision yet, but it looks like they will soon, and that it will involve charging. This is an interesting development as newspapers try to figure out their business model in the new environment.
Very interesting turn of events, which could prevent the very wrong-headed health reform bill from being able to pass:
Voter disenchantment in liberal Massachusetts with President Barack Obama’s policies has turned a Senate election into a nail-biter that could imperil U.S. healthcare reform.
Democrats envisioned a smooth passing of the baton in the January 19 special election to fill the seat of the late Edward Kennedy, a political giant who died of brain cancer in August after holding the seat for 46 years.
A victory would maintain the Democrats’ 60-seat Senate majority, allowing them to overcome Republican procedural hurdles that could block reform of the $2.5 trillion healthcare sector, Obama’s top legislative priority.
Instead, some polls say the race between State Attorney-General Martha Coakley, 56, and her Republican opponent, State Senator Scott Brown, is too close to call.
“The closeness of the race reflects deep voter dissatisfaction with how the president and the congressional majority are dealing with vital matters,” including healthcare and the war on terror, said Mark Landy, a political science professor at Boston College.
For my view on health reform, see my posts The Worst Bill Ever and How Health Savings Accounts–Not New Laws–Are the Key to Health Reform.
When it comes to innovation, the question is not how to innovate but how to invite ideas. How do you invite your brain to encounter thoughts that you might not otherwise encounter? Creative people let their mind wander, and they mix ideas freely. Innovation often comes from unexpected juxtapositions, from connecting subjects that aren’t necessarily related.
Another way to generate ideas is to treat a problem as though it were generic. If you’re experiencing a particular problem, odds are that other people are experiencing it too. Generate a solution, and you may have an innovation.
There are two main ways to put in place an approach for staying on top of things. First, you can start with the “runway” level — all the actions and stuff that lies right before you. Second, you can start at the top levels of mission, values, and goals.
The difficulty with the top down approach is that all of the things at the runway can easily keep bugging you and make it hard for you to see at that level.
But starting at the bottom is worse. If you tell yourself that getting all of your runway actions in order will allow you to work on up to the level of roles, goals, values, and mission, you’ll never make it.
It’s like a few months ago when I was jogging through a field of grasshoppers. When I went faster, there were just more grasshoppers to jump out.
That’s what happens if you focus on the runway level of actions and the stuff you need to process and try to work on up from there. The runway-level stuff will just multiply, and you’ll never rise much above it.
The best solution is to take a both/and approach. You have to deal with the stuff right before you, of course, and that will in turn provide good illumination on the nature of your roles and goals. But if you start there, don’t stay there too long. Go up to the higher levels and work down so that you will have your priorities defined, which will enable you to cut out a bunch of that stuff that’s been cluttering the runway anyway.
A good quote from Google CEO Eric Schmidt:
Knowledge workers believe they are paid to be effective, not to work 9 to 5.
The quote is from Andy Crouch’s culture making blog. The post itself contains an interesting comparison between Saddleback Church’s campus and Google’s headquarters as an expression of the overarching role of culture in shaping architecture.
A great post at 37 Signals from a while back. Here’s the first paragraph:
More on why Pixar’s movies are so much better than the competition: According to “Pixar Rules — Secrets of a Blockbuster Company,” the company has created an incredible work environment that keeps employees happy and fulfilled. The result: “A tightknit company of long-term collaborators who stick together, learn from one another, and strive to improve with every production.”
I’ve never been clear on this — until now. Turns out there’s a whole website devoted to this issue.
My favorite page is what the tip is not. It is not:
- One dollar.
- Leftover coins.
- Saying how much you appreciate the pizza and the driver, but not giving a tip.
- Included in the bill.
- Included in the delivery charge.
- Included in free delivery.
What do you tip? The answer is here.
With growth, the organization expands and people can build a career and a future. Growth enables a business to get the best people and retain them. People who see personal growth opportunities have more energy, better morale, and enhanced self-confidence.
At a company that is not growing, there is little emotional energy. Your entire workday is spent feeling as if you are moving underwater. The best people spend a significant amount of time looking for a job.
If you are not in a growth situation, you are in a limiting situation.