Liquid Leadership, page 123, Isn't Creativity Just For Artistic Types?
To find creative cultures in today’s world of business, we need to look no further than start-ups. Start-ups are great resources for innovation because, in their pursuit to make their brand a household name, they take risks and chances that may make established companies cringe. Startups thrive on rejecting assumptions that a market is this way or that. They simply try as many models as possible, keeping what works and refining it while dumping the rest.
This is the big difference between an entrepreneur and an executive, especially when it comes to methodologies and thought. Executives thrive on systems and processes, whereas entrepreneurs attempt to disrupt the status quo and create new markets. If you have ever walked into a start-up, you know what I mean—there is electricity in the air.
Yes, a lot of start-ups go out of business, but every once in a while a start-up survives because the founder straddles both worlds of leadership—entrepreneur and executive—and creates such a dynamic company that we stop and go, “Wow.” Even while running a big, established organization, such leaders find ways to cultivate the hunger, drive, passion, and talent of a start-up, while destroying established models that otherwise would get in the way. Every product from a company managed like this catapults the organization into consistent market leadership and the role of industry innovator.
And here’s the key: Such companies engage every individual personally in the drive for success. Every contribution is taken into consideration and rewarded. The excitement in these organizations is contagious.
But don’t take my word for it. As cited by Daniel Pink in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, studies done at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the London School of Economics discovered that when a simple set of rules, goals, and tasks was laid out to for people to follow—as long as each task involved rudimentary mechanical skills with a basic set of achievable tasks—bonuses worked as expected. There’s nothing new there. But when a task required more developed cognitive skills, out-of-the-box thinking, or creative breakthroughs, a larger reward actually led to poorer performance!
The studies reached the conclusion that when the task gets more complex and requires more conceptual, inventive thinking, traditional motivators do not work. Now, this flies in the face of every assumption common in management circles!
But here is the “Aha!” moment that both studies revealed: When they removed the issue of money—by paying people really well in the first place—smart people started thinking about the work instead of competing for bonuses. They started using their free time to do things that “made no sense” from the corporate perspective. They would hang out together, write poetry, take guitar lessons, or enroll in cooking or art classes. But what was even more surprising? Productivity in the work environment went up!
Through these studies, behavioral scientists discovered that three factors (discussed below) lead to better performance and personal satisfaction in creative working environments.
The Intuitive Desire to Be Self-directed
Traditional management works great if you want people to simply obey and follow the rules. This is especially important when the tasks are simple and achievable, such as “We need to bag three hundred thousand loaves of bread per day.” Not so easy, but achievable.
But when it comes to higher complexity and creative work, such as overseeing the design of a new green energy system, giving people the freedom of choice to give their time over to the company changes their output levels. They become completely engaged in their work and the mission of the company. Remember when your parents would say, “You know, if I made you do it, you wouldn’t want to do it?” Well, as it turns out, that’s true.
When we offer people the autonomy to self-direct
their work, they start giving over more than
their time; they give their heart, mind, and spirit.
With people doing more complicated and sophisticated work these days, the sensible model—the one that provides rewards to all involved—involves self-direction.
Click here for The Secret to Innovation: Part 2
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But this is not based on management theory: With a 30 career as an entrepreneur he knows firsthand what it’s like to grow a company from a simple idea in a coffee shop to an internationally recognized brand.
Brad is a former C-Level Internet Executive who went from entrepreneur to IPO in 3 yrs—co-founding K2 Design, the very first Dot Com Agency to go public on NASDAQ. His company experienced 425% hyper-growth for 5 straight years, expanded from 2 business partners to 4 with 60+ employees and offices worldwide. At its height, K2 was valuated at over $26 million. His results only management model (ROWE) was applied to the first wave of young Generation Y workers producing great results—winning K2 the Arthur Andersen NY Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation.
Brad Szollose is the *award-winning author of Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia which explores the subject of new leadership styles – mainly how to get the tech-savvy Generation Y and analogue driven Baby Boomers working together. ISBN-13: 978-1608320554
Known for his humorous and thought-provoking presentations, Szollose received the highest testimonial of his career from a C-Level audience member: "I just had my mind blown." Brad’s keynotes and workshops are highly interactive, heart-warming, humorous, and filled with high-content information that challenge assumptions and help leaders and managers create a better work environment for innovation to thrive.
Liquid Leadership has been called "THE guidebook for the 21st Century" and has won the 2011 Axiom Business Book Award silver medal for leadership, The Indie Business Book runner up silver medal as well as becoming a #1 Best-Selling Business Book on Amazon for Organizational Learning. Published in the United States by Greenleaf Book Group, in India by Prolibris and in South Korea by UI Books/Iljinsa Publishing.
Mr. Szollose also writes a monthly column on business and marketing techniques that reach Generation Y for A Captured Mind newsletter and is part of The Mind Capture Group faculty.
Today, Brad helps businesses close the Digital Divide by understanding it as a Cultural Divide – created by the new tech-savvy worker...and customer.
* 2011 Axiom Business Book silver medal winner in the leadership
* #1 Amazon Best-Selling Author