Several of our Most Creative People have made news since our list came out in June: Jon Rubinstein (No. 9) was named CEO of Palm; W!ldbrain CEO Charles Rivkin (No. 56) was nominated to be the U.S. ambassador to France; Zaha Hadid (No. 68) won a competition to design Cairo Expo City; and New York's High Line park, with plantings by Piet Oudolf (No. 76), opened to enthusiastic reviews. Still, there has been controversy about our choices: Some readers offered their own candidates — including Indian carmaker Ratan Tata — and a few attacked our decisions.
Great article ("The 100 Most Creative People in Business," June), but I must comment on the sentence "There are no rules about creativity." That ignores 50 years of research and development in deliberate creativity. There are many processes taught across the world, including one profiled in "Intelligent Design" in the same issue. I am an alum of the world's first master of science pro-gram in creative studies at Buffalo State College. It was founded by Sid Parnes who, with Alex Osborn of BBD&O, developed in the mid-1950s the rules to what we all call brainstorming. I agree that creative business leaders are not easily categorized. How about: Creativity knows no bounds?
Anthony G. Billoni
Buffalo, New York
I'm truly delighted about your No. 1 pick for "The 100 Most Creative People in Busi-ness." I think Jonathan Ive deserves much more atten-tion than he's garnered, not only for his specific role at Apple, but for the overall impact of his design credo and Apple's democratization of design. Thank you for your continued focus on design.
José Fernando Vázquez-Pérez
San Juan, Puerto Rico<
Your article about creative people is the latest among far too many that seem to imply that the only things of importance to American business are innovation, creativity, IT, finance, and entrepreneurship. Sometime over the past quarter century, Americans stopped caring about manufacturing (making things) and running firms effectively and efficiently, and instead became infatuated with innovation. As a result, we have been treated to end-less articles in business magazines, such as yours, worshipping at the altar of innovation and creativity. Economies grow and become rich because they make things and manage their businesses better than others. Creativity and innovation are important but not sufficient in and of themselves. I would urge you to spend a little more time talking about manufacturing and management of real companies.
Rochester Hills, Michigan
Sit Right Down
Thank you for including Humanscale's new Diffrient World Chair in the June issue's "In the Hot Seat" article. Unfortunately, the article gives Fast Company readers an inaccurate representation of our chair. When we delivered the chairs to your office, only the fixed-arm version was available. One reviewer's comment that "the armrests are annoyingly low, and I had trouble fig-uring out how to adjust them" sug-gests that the armrests were adjustable but difficult to use. Had we been able to supply our adjustable-arm version, the reviewer would have found them incredibly easy to adjust.
Tom Revelle, Humanscale
New York, New York
Is the Interview Dead?
It always amazes me how much weight is placed on interview "performance" versus actual competencies (Made to Stick, June). In previous human-resource management roles, I dealt with countless poor on-the-job performance issues that were shocking to the hiring mana-gers. They would always tell me how well this person interviewed, how he "clicked" and impressed everyone. Inter-viewing is a very subjective part of the hiring process. Both sides tend to put on their best act, but that doesn't gauge what happens next.
Some people possess relational and communication skills that fit them to the interview setting and set them apart from others who lack such skills. I have chosen to be less dependent upon the interview as a primary determinant in hiring. If I were to pick the one most-dependable indicator, it would be voice (not written) references from key individuals with whom a can-didate has worked or studied.
Stanley E. Patterson
Berrien Springs, Michigan
A lot of business is virtual these days: voice mails, conference calls, TelePresence, and videoconferencing. Testing the candidate's ability to com-municate powerfully and effectively in a virtual world should be one of the criteria considered.
The only place this column missed the mark was in the illustrations at the end of the article. The mistakes of Oprah and RadioShack were clearly verifiable. But attempting to establish the validity of the argument based on a public-opinion poll of Sarah Palin's competency was untenable.
Greensboro, North Carolina
The heaths are right about the problems with interviews. However, the effectiveness of simulations and work samples depends on how accurately those simu-lations and work samples represent the job. Typically, higher-level positions require a complex constellation of com-petencies that are tough to simulate. So what do you do? One, develop candi-date pools before you need them. Two, develop simulations that accurately reflect the key elements of the job. Three, pair managers with great interviewers. Four, make a hiring decision cognizant of the strengths and potential issues that come with any new hire. Finally, take time to properly orient the new employee to the organization.
Whoa! The major premise seems to be that interviews shouldn't be used because most hiring managers lack interviewing skills (true). Let's not kick interviews out of bed because, absent training and practice, they make us uncomfortable, and we're not very good at doing them. The best way to work on your interviewing skills and recruit some great people is to con-tinue doing interviews every day.
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A version of this article appeared in the September 2009 issue of Fast Company magazine.