Return

Pattern: Manage for Creativity

Teams charged with innovation need the open-ended freedom to experiment their way to solutions without pressure for delivering specific results on a set schedule—and the freedom to sometimes fail along the way

The company is investing in all Three Horizons — H1, proficiency; H2, innovation;and H3, research. Some teams are working to deliver H1 core value and improve proficiency. Other teams are dedicated to innovation projects, which require a creative approach.

In This Context

Teams charged with identifying and building promising future products are often managed using the same known methodologies that are popular in the enterprises.One of the most common, Scrum, helps clarify what’s going to be built and creates pressure to build it as fast as possible. Running endless numbers of strings without much reflection on the way drives most of the creativity out of the developmentproject.No inventor can tell when and what exactly she is going to invent.
• Creative thinking requires time and freedom to explore, and safety to fail.
• Startups tend to manage for creativity.
• Enterprises tend to strongly promote proficiency, speed, and quality of delivery.
• Scrum and similar methodologies create pressure to deliver and reduce freethinking.

Therefore

Manage the teams responsible for innovation by stating a purpose or desired outcome,which gives the team a direction toward which they will be creating new ideas. The team will require time, funding, and other resources to support its work, safety to fail, and autonomy to explore. Team dynamics will be more important than deadlines and delivery management.Cloud native companies need creative thinkers. This new tech-driven environment requires companies to be innovative, flexible, and responsive. While many teams within the organization can be focused on delivering the core business product, at least one should be in charge of innovation. Because its job is to investigate likely next steps for the company’s near future, it needs to work differently than the teams executing processes in the existing system.
• Psychological safety is essential for creativity to flourish.
• Purpose needs to be practical and achievable.
• Creative teams should be dedicated to innovation and have no regular delivery tasks.
• Innovation Champions are responsible for ushering projects that prove to be of value toward production, moving them along among the H1/H2/H3 teams. This role can be covered by the Designated Strategist or another person who can be officially responsible.

Consequently

Innovation thrives in the company, and the innovative teams are separated from the proficient teams.
+ Creative teams have the opportunity to invent and the safety to fail.
- No certainty in delivery, but the projects are always time-bound.
- Difficult to predict results looking forward, but easy to measure success looking back.