Hooey about creative economy

When I worked in a previous group I noticed that we were rewarding people for the quantity of line of code the developed. This seemed wrong to me… but I came to the conclusion that it’s always easier to count something rather than judge it’s quality. I also suspected that because many of our leaders in that group came from a factory environment that they were rewarded folks based on output (which is typical and expected in a factory environment).

It’s been my feeling for the past year that if business continues to drive their non-factory units the way they run their factories (in light of the quickly changing environment) then they’re going to pay the price of slow change and maybe lack of cohesive direction and the ability to truly be competitive from the inside out. This goes not only for the ‘creative’ branches like marketing and R&D but for the internal and support groups as well. Part of the shift in models that companies should focus on fostering as part of Org Development, is the shift from relying specifically on internal competition to promote product success and encouragement of cross-polination and collaboration between teams, organizations, disciplines and individuals.

In the typical ranking and rating system (such as the one describe in the Enron documentary, “The Smartest Guys in the Room,”) because people compete with one another, it really doesn’t benefit them to share information with others because they are rewarded for having unique knowledge or ability. In the worst cases you might have individuals or groups sabotaging other efforts or creating customized cases for their existance to firmly establish job security.

Knowledge Management in the new creative economy

To be truly collaborative you have to let go of some of these siloed ways of thinking and behaving. Also, to be truly innovative you must be collaborative. To be collaborative, you must empower your employees with a really robust Knowledge Management system. In one of my earlier posts I referenced an illustration based on a Model from Marc Rosenberg’s Beyond eLearning that illustrates some of the basic elements of a strong KM system.

In a previous life/blog I began to iron out what was meant by a creative economy. I think that there’s still some work to be done in terms of defining what “Creative economy means” to support groups within a company.” But here is what I sketched out in terms of a definition:

Creative Economy:

  • Characterized by productions of ideas/concepts rather than services (service economy) and products (factory economy)
  • Face of things to come – Conceptual (future) age vs. Information age (past)
  • Companies will find a greater need to foster creativity and collaboration in workers
  • Requires a workforce that is skillfully and socially adaptable and who can use both right and left brain equally well

But what does this mean for groups in a company that are not in charge or direct product development or marketing?

  • I believe that for a support group such as IT this may mean (on one level) providing an infrastructure, networks and tools which truly promote collaboration and effective Knowledge and Enterprise Content Management. (I think that there was a recent Harvard Business Review article by Andrew McAfee on the Three Faces of IT – I’ll have to look it up and post it here later).
  • HR/Leadership it means assessing company culture and leaders to determine if they are ready or fit for this type of environment or change.

Now, I’m not saying that this new “Creative Economy” will replace the need for having a good manufacturing and supply chain infrastructure. However, this a new and imminent change that will affect all of us.

To be continued…


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