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Managing a Creative Culture: Do "creatives" Fit Into the Traditional Management System?

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Managing a Creative Culture: Do "Creatives" Fit into the Traditional Management System?

The ability to reach the creative individual cannot be achieved through the traditional management organization. Creative people don't fit in very well in a hierarchical organization with traditional management techniques. To manage creatives, a new model must be developed. Organizations must take heed to the needs of creatives or be subject to losing these valuable resources.


Resources, freedom and challenge are the management keys necessary to develop and maintain a creative environment. These keys, along with encouraging and supporting "creatives," will foster the growth and development of an organization's employees, management and ultimately it's culture. Many organizations have tremendous success in recognizing and cultivating the creative talent of its employees. Whether this talent is already in effect or brought out, managers must take the best approach to ensure a positive, creative impact on the organization.

Organizations that do not change with the times will soon find themselves behind or more seriously--non-existent. Different things motivate them and money is no longer the top motivator for creatives. Looking at creatives from another view, this group, also referred to as the creative class, represents a powerful economic force. Not economic force in terms of ownership of property or the means of production but their creative capacity which is an intangible because it is literally in their heads.

So what will draw the creative to a particular organization? Creative expression and the chance to present new ideas and deliver results in different ways is the top motivation, but does traditional management provide this opportunity? This paper will present a correlation between organizational management, culture, creative types and how understanding and fostering their integration produces successful organizations.


Managing creatives is counter-intuitive. It goes against almost everything we are taught about managing a business. That's why managers rarely do a good job at managing these kinds of workers. Managing creative people is counter-intuitive for two reasons--the nature of the work is different and the nature of the worker is different.

Creative people don't fit in very well in a hierarchical organization with traditional management techniques. Generally speaking, creatives march to a different drummer and typically don't work for money or advancement. In general, they work for three things: First, the fun of creation itself; second, admiration, especially from their peers and third, the excitement and glory of taking part in a successful creation. These wants may not seem out of the ordinary for employees, but the creative may have additional wants that make them more unusual.

Unfortunately, sometimes creatives have personality traits that make them more challenging to work with. For example, they're often extreme perfectionists. And yet, these are the kinds of people that you need, when you want to innovate. These are the people who design new products, new services, and new advertising concepts. They may not fit into the current corporate culture, but they are a necessary part of it.

The hierarchical or traditional management model must be erased. To a great extent, you have to forget about the usual distinction between bosses and workers. This model fails the creative and ultimately the organization's development.

Managing the process of creativity is absolutely critical for an organization's success. Understanding creative thinkers, how ideas are generated and allowing people the freedom to think and act is an important part of the role of any manager. One of the key steps in the management of creatives is understanding both their processes and the way they operate.

Generating new ideas and being innovative takes tremendous personal discipline, every person who is labeled 'creative' lives with the pressure of days when their mind is a complete blank, they know that their manager, or team, or even the organization is waiting for them to come up with original thoughts. Allowing these people the freedom to take time out to think or to create their own personal space is absolutely essential for their development.

One of the important competencies for any manager is the ability to coach others. A good coach naturally needs to know how the person that they are coaching operates. This includes understanding their profile e.g. their learning style, their personality and their work preferences. In the case of coaching someone who has high creativity, it is important to recognize how to create an environment or culture where they can develop.

Every organization has a culture that influences how its employees think, feel and act. It provides meaning, direction and spurs employees into action. Creativity is nurtured by cultures that are driven by strong, shared values. Employees need to feel empowered to offer creative thinking and know that their ideas will be heard and respected and prompt action.

Companies have shown that organizational culture is linked to creativity. The organizational culture can create barriers to creativity in the following ways. First, when individuals are bound by a strong corporate culture, there is a danger that they may adopt fixed mind-sets to solve problems. Second, culture involves assumptions, beliefs and values that can be deep-rooted within the members of organizations. Once a company is locked into a culture that has proven itself to be successful, it will be difficult to convince its members to adopt alternative ways of doing things in the organization--but it may crucial to its continued success.

Defining Creativity

Within every individual, creativity is a function of three components: expertise, creative-thinking skills and motivation. Expertise encompasses everything that an individual knows and can do in their work. Creative thinking refers to how problems and solutions are approached--the capacity to put existing ideas together in new combinations.

Expertise and creative thinking are an individual's raw materials--his or her natural resources. But a third factor of creativity, motivation determines what people will actually do. If an individual lacks motivation, they simply won't do a job and creative

thinking will go unused or be applied to something



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