Managing For Creativity | 1 of 2

It is becoming widely recognised that for the majority of businesses, creative capital is a company’s most important resource. The digital era and expansive growth of the knowledge economy bring with them a plethora of opportunities to seize and hurdles to overcome, and successful innovation in these areas is driven by individuals who can be challenged to produce creative ideas that can be harnessed by the organisation to add value as products and services. The creative class are professionals whose primary responsibilities include innovating, designing and problem solving; and this is a growing sector. Creative teams pioneer new technology, industries, and drive economic growth, and in an ever-increasingly competitive business environment, these are the teams that you should be relying upon to differentiate your offering.


Having the best team requires hiring the best individuals. For this reason, the hiring process of many successful companies can take significant time with the intent of identifying the most appropriate candidates. But once you’ve navigated the minefield of assembling the best team, how do you maximise their potential?

Theresa Amabile and Robert Sternberg have well documented the fact that once a threshold of extrinsic factors such as stock options or level of salary has been satisfied, creatives are far more heavily motivated by intrinsic rewards. Additionally, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has identified both factors that generate creativity and the positive effect that it has on organisations, advancing the idea of ‘flow’. ‘Flow’ is the experience of losing oneself in the focus of a task, concentrating hard but ultimately finding the process thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding. Achieving this state can lead to impressive results, but how can management be empowering their creative staff? How can they put them in a position to be able to reach ‘flow’ nirvana every day in pursuit of excellence in their creative output? How can they ‘nurture, harness and mobilize’ (Managing for creativity, Richard Florida & Jim Goodnight, HBR) creativity in their own businesses?


This Harvard Business Review article outlines the following subsections of an overarching objective to ‘Help Workers Be Great’. Creative people relish a challenge, and actively want to immerse themselves in the problem that they are addressing, and directors should trust and believe in the will of these individuals. The management should therefore be focused on engaging them intellectually, and enable their teams by eliminating unnecessary obstruction and distraction. IT Software giant, SAS Institute, have experienced huge success thanks to their understanding of the following principles.

1 – Believe that creative people want to do good work

2 – Engage them by stimulating their minds

3 – Enable them by minimizing hassle

If managers are able to create inspiring work environments for their employees, and stimulate the open sharing of ideas while removing barriers to creativity in a way that balances with the deadlines, then their teams will be primed and able to add maximum value to the company. In the next instalment of this blog, I will be looking in more detail at how this framework applies

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