We now assume that to add value in our developed economies, we need creativity and innovation. We are shifting from an industrial to the information age with higher pace of change, more uncertainty and a need for more responsive and flexible management. As we need cost reductions, speed increases, flexibility, … downsizing, delayering, divesting is common. We need to become more efficient. We need to partner and form alliances. And management in all of this is more about perception and facilitation than analysis and control. Creative managmeent is about changing the way organizations are run, opening up their climate and management style, increasing participation and freedom. Enable the organization to innovate and network. Creative management is linked here to transforming organizations while managing innovation is about new product development.
A creative leader has a vision, is charismatic enough to inspire others to follow that vision. A creative manager’s role is to attend social needs, ensure open atmosphere and see that ideas can be brought to fruition. Kanter (1991) argued that creative leaders formulate the idea and have the power to advance it. They are good communicators and build coalitions, work through teams and are persistent. They can communicate their vision, inspire and carry their dreams into reality. They have very good social skills.
This is linked to Goleman’s (1998) idea of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-regulation and motivation to manage yourself and empathy and social skill to management relationships.
There are different leaders though, who could be the Visionary, Entrepreneurial or Transformational leader. Ricardo Semler (1994) goes even further with the self-organizing company. Further information on the different leadership styles can be seen on page 26 of the book.
Creative endavor is only likely with committed staff. Empowerment and network is key and Morgan (1991) highlights the following properties for today’s managers:
- Reading the environment
- Visionary Leadership
- Human Resource Management
- Remote Management Skills
- Using IT to transform
- Managing complexity
- Contextual Competencies
We are moving into an environment where the manager has far less control and has more of a facilitative role. In general, I agree here to the extent that a good manager will make your job easier and this is not about control but it is very hard to let go as a manager. You protect teams from unnecessary obstacles.
You need to have the ability to look at situations from different perspectives, taking an overview. Senge (1991) wrote about the importance of mental models and Kanter (1991) used the analogy of a kaleidoscope. Understand the logic and concerns behind different stakeholders’ position is very important.
To be facilitating you need to also allow for sufficient autonomy while still giving stretch and challenge. Kanter (1997) believed you need to offer learning opportunities. Proactivity is about being prepared, potentially using scenarios to play different situations out beforehand. Networking is key because ideas emerge in social settings and employee loyalty is often more to an industry than the firm.
Successful teams include people from different styles and backgrounds. There will be a mix of characters. Innovators often competors in their teams for example. Belbin (1988) included the following roles in a team: leaders (task oriented shaper and people oriented chair person), ideas person (creator or plant), resource investigator, monitor-evaluator, team worker, implementer and completer. He later added the specialist.
You often need multi-disciplinary teams with a project leader and (comment: a great sounding job!) the technological gatekeeper who keeps his technical knowledge upt to date through informal networking, as well as a product champion or business sponsor who steers the product through the orgnanization.
The climate needs to be one of freedom, trust, commitment and diversity. Freedom and control of your own work along with good project management and some system of encouragement and feedback are good. Trust is only likely possible in groups of 50 people or less. Pearson (1989) argued for a clear strategy and Kanter (1997) for common values. Stacy (1996) emphasised the capacity to accept ambiguity and uncertainty.
Lots of things are tried here, including continuous improvement, benchmarking, quality, learning, development, knowledge-sharing initiatives, … . Re-engineering is another idea while Semler’s book Maverick, about his own company Semco offeres another radical idea. Remember that most organizational change fails.
In the end, the manager needs to care for employee development, foster collaboration and commitment.