Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Managing Creative People

I used to work in software, and we often used to say that it would have been much easier to manage people if we were making tyres!

There, if the daily target is 'x' tyres, you have a nice, reliable number to work towards. If you make less than 'x' tires, you know you have a problem and you can go about trying to fix it.

But when you are managing creative people, its so much harder. Consider a programmer (or a copy writer, or researcher etc.) who has been sitting all day staring at his computer screen. Finally you cannot take it anymore and politely ask her what the issue is.

"Nothing", she says, "I'm thinking" !

Well, at this point there is really not much more you can do. It is her job to think and come up with new stuff. But she could equally well be goofing off.

So how do you manage people in these functions ? You solve this problem upstream. You have to have hired the right people to begin with. Take a long time to decide who to hire, make sure they are capable, honest, and motivated. Because once you have hired them, all you can really do is to stand around and cheer them on.

So the moral of the story is this: Managing creativity begins and (more or less) ends at the hiring stage.

1 comment:

  1. beela6:01 AM

    -How about "What are you thinking ???".
    -How about a "thinking log" to be kept by all creative creatures!
    -How about puting a generous time limit on thinking and then you got to share your thinking with your staff.
    Other suggestions are avaible on request !