Main story : Group Genius More : Testing the Future
The Taylor mantra on managing for creativity goes something like this: All employees are inherently creative. That creativity is typically blocked by structural elements within a company. Eliminate the blockages, and you enable "group genius." In other words, you don't manage people; you manage the world in which they work, a world the Taylor's divide into seven key components, or domains.
- Body of Knowledge Know what you know.
- Recognize that your team's collective knowledge and experience are among your most valuable resources. Assess your body of knowledge; find out where — in whom — it resides. Spread it around: ensure that everyone knows "what is known" to eliminate duplicate efforts and build unity.
- Process Design and Facilitation Clear the pathways.
- In most companies the creative process happens by accident. Find out how it happens in yours. Discover your enterprise's internal processes, or pathways, and clear them of obstacles. Don't let tradition dictate how things are done. Meetings, for example, should be times of intensive interaction. They should be called only when a project or problem requires actual collaboration and group creativity.
- Education Learn how you learn.
- Discover the processes by which your team gathers information or explores new ideas, and assess your attitudes toward learning. If success depends on maintaining your body of knowledge, then learning must be a constant activity.
- Establish the physical and psychological field for work. Creating a functional environment means departing radically from workplaces left over from the industrial era. Creative space must be adaptable to multiple uses — from large meetings to small breakouts. It must be comfortable, healthy, homey, but fully functional — a place that supports multiple styles of work and creativity, from writing on wall panels to pacing back and forth. Above all, your environment must allow team members to "work big and work collaboratively."
- It works for you, not the other way around. Used appropriately, it lets an enterprise leverage its creative work. But technology is also a false "quick fix" that will simply magnify and accelerate whatever flaws remain in your creative processes. Make your technology yours. Customize it to your needs and systems.
- Project Management
- Manage the environment, not the people. Make sure that the environment maximizes creativity, that the body of knowledge is rich and accessible, that the team is as diverse as possible. Most important, facilitate. Lead team members through a clearly enunciated creative process — like Scan, Focus, Act — and evaluate the project and the team's progress at each step.
- Venture Management
- The big picture. Develop a specific corporate vision to bring "there" to "here." Choose a preferred future state, then determine how to modify daily actions and processes to achieve it. It also means maintaining your organization's health, preserving functional aspects, and searching for new, more effective, and creative methods.
A version of this article appeared in the October/November 1997 issue of Fast Company magazine.