Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Managing for Creativity

[July/August 2005 - Harvard Business Review] Economist Richard Florida and SAS's Jim Goodnight explore ... A company's most important asset isn't raw materials, transportation systems, or political influence. It's creative capital--simply put, an arsenal of creative thinkers whose ideas can be turned into valuable products and services. Creative employees pioneer new technologies, birth new industries, and power economic growth. If you want your company to succeed, these are the people you entrust it to. But how do you accommodate the complex and chaotic nature of the creative process while increasing efficiency, improving quality, and raising productivity? Most businesses haven't figured this out. A notable exception is SAS Institute, the world's largest privately held software company. SAS makes Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For list every year. The company has enjoyed low employee turnover, high customer satisfaction, and 28 straight years of revenue growth. What's the secret to all this success? The authors, an academic and a CEO, approach this question differently, but they've come to the same conclusion: SAS has learned how to harness the creative energies of all its stakeholders, including its customers, software developers, managers, and support staff. Its framework for managing creativity rests on three guiding principles. First, help employees do their best work by keeping them intellectually engaged and by removing distractions. Second, make managers responsible for sparking creativity and eliminate arbitrary distinctions between "suits" and "creatives." And third, engage customers as creative partners so you can deliver superior products. Underlying all three principles is a mandate to foster interaction--not just to collect individuals' ideas. By nurturing relationships among developers, salespeople, and customers, SAS is investing in its future creative capital. More

Read how the online Slashdot ("News for Nerds. Stuff that matters.") community is responding to this article about creativity in organizations.

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