How to be a Successful Creative Person

how to become creative person and how to become creative and innovative person and how to deal with a creative person and how to identify creative person
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Dr.MattWood,United States,Teacher
Published Date:25-07-2017
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How to Motivate Creative People (Including Yourself) An e-book for leaders, managers, directors — and other creative people by Mark McGuinness markmcguinness Photo by aleksey.const1. Whatʼs in this E-book for You? Photo by lisegagne If you are a leader, manager, director or coach... This e-book will help you: • Understand how motivation affects creativity • Get better work out of creative people • Avoid (inadvertently) crushing people’s motivation • Use rewards effectively • Understand and influence many different types of people. • Facilitate creative collaboration If you are a creative person (however you define that)... It will help you: • Understand your creative process Wishful Thinking — 4• Develop your creative talent • Find more satisfaction in your work • Influence other people • Develop your collaboration skills Topics covered include ... • What makes creative people tick • Why motivation is crucial to creative success • Why you can't motivate anybody — but what you can do instead • What Iggy Pop can teach you about management • Why offering rewards can harm creative performance • How to write 47 novels before breakfast • Why some people seem so weird — and how to deal with them • The positive side of peer pressure The e-book is licensed for free noncommercial distribution. As long as you keep it intact, credit me as the author and don't exploit it commercially, you are welcome to share it with anyone who you think might find it useful. I'd love to hear what you make of it — please e-mail me with your feedback. I'd be particularly interested to hear how you get on using the ideas in practice. And if you'd like me to help you with any of the issues raised in the e-book, have a look at chapter 11 'If You Want Help Taking Action...'. Mark McGuinness January 2009 Wishful Thinking — 52. Why Motivation Is Crucial to Creative Performance Photo by skodonnell If you are a leader or manager your job is to get the best work out of the people on your team. Traditional approaches to corporate management often rely on 'the carrot and the stick' — offering rewards for good performance, using managerial authority to command people, and penalising failure to comply. But creative work is different. You're probably aware that creative people have a reputation for being free spirits who hate being told what to do. So it won't surprise you to hear that wielding the big stick will have a negative impact on their work. But did you know that you can do just as much harm with the carrot? What Makes Creative People Different? We all recognise the stereotype of the creative person — brilliant, temperamental, introverted, alternately consumed with pride then racked with self-doubt. Difficult. Eccentric. Possibly mad. Psychologists have devoted enormous efforts to trying to analyse, define and measure the ‘creative personality’ — but it may interest you to know that they have not had much success. Wishful Thinking — 6Where they have succeeded however, is in demonstrating the impact of different types of motivation on the creative process. Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile has conducted extensive research into the effect of motivation on creative performance, particularly in organisational settings. In an article titled 'How to Kill Creativity', she lays out the basic problem: In today's knowledge economy, creativity is more important than ever. But many companies unwittingly employ managerial practices that kill it. How? By crushing their employees' intrinsic motivation — the strong internal desire to do something based on interests and passions. Managers don't kill creativity on purpose. Yet in the pursuit of productivity, efficiency, and control — all worthy business imperatives — they undermine creativity. It doesn't have to be that way ... business imperatives can comfortably coexist with creativity. But managers will have to change their thinking first. (Theresa Amabile, ‘How to Kill Creativity’, Harvard Business Review, September-October 1998) Amabile's research has demonstrated that intrinsic motivation is strongly linked to creative performance. In one experiment she worked with two groups of children. The first group were given paper and paint and told to paint a picture. The second group were told that if they painted a really good picture they would be rewarded with a sweet. When the resulting pictures were evaluated, the first group was judged to have produced consistently better pictures than the second group. Amabile’s explanation is that the first group was focused on painting for its own sake (intrinsic motivation) whereas the second group was distracted by the thought of the reward (extrinsic motivation) and so failed to give the painting sufficient attention to produce something really good. In another study, described by former advertising creative director Gordon Torr in his book Managing Creative People, Amabile and her colleagues invited some art experts to assess the work of 29 professional artists. Unknown to the experts was the fact that each artist had been asked to submit 10 commissioned works and 10 non-commissioned works. Overall, the experts rated the commissioned works as less creative than the others — the only exception being commissions that "enable the artist to do something interesting or exciting", i.e. in which there was a strong component of intrinsic motivation in addition to the extrinsic motivation that came from the commission. Amabile’s research has led her to formulate "the intrinsic motivation principle of creativity": People will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself — not by external pressures. (Amabile, ‘How to Kill Creativity’) These external pressures — i.e. extrinsic motivations — even include 'positive' incentives such as money, since as Amabile points out, "a cash reward can't magically prompt people to find their work interesting if in their hearts they feel it is dull". Wishful Thinking — 7So to get the best out of creative workers, managers need to help them discover meaning and interest in their work — over and above their professional obligations and the company's commercial interests. Bad News for Managers You can't improve creative performance by giving people orders, showering them with praise or paying them more money. Expecting people to do outstanding creative work 'because they are paid to do it' may sound perfectly reasonable — but it doesn't work. That isn't to say that creative types are not interested in money and other rewards — sadly, it's not that simple. As we'll see in chapter 6, rewards are very important to creative people. Like the creative process itself, creative motivations are complex. To get the best out of creative people you need to understand something of the nature of creativity, the effect of rewards on creative performance, the individual personalities you're dealing with, and the way they interact as a group. If your job involves getting top performance out of workers engaged on creative projects, you're in a paradoxical position: on the one hand, your success depends on getting them fired up to do their best; but on the other, the traditional management 'levers' — money, status and privilege — may actually do more harm than good. The goal of this e-book is to help you resolve this paradox. Good News for Managers Because creative people are not motivated primarily by money, it's possible to get outstanding performance from them without a limitless budget. And because there are no simple solutions to motivating creative people, it presents you with a very interesting challenge. If you like the idea of an interesting challenge, it suggests that you too are a creative person. So the idea of finding creative ways to inspire and engage your team will probably appeal to you. The rest of this e-book aims to stimulate your managerial creativity. Wishful Thinking — 83. What Gets You out of Bed in the Morning? Photo by BALLISTIK It is five o'clock in the morning, in the middle of January, in the heart of the Victorian age. An old man is climbing the stairs, lit by a candle on the tray in his hands. The tray also holds a pot of coffee and a china cup. When he reaches the top of the stairs, he pauses for breath and rests the tray on a small table. Straightening, he knocks three times on the bedroom door, picks up the tray and enters. As he approaches the bed, he can make out a head with an enormous beard spilling over the blanket. The master blinks owlishly as his servant approaches, places the candle on the bedside table and proceeds to pour the coffee. The beard belongs to Anthony Trollope, the acclaimed Victorian novelist, who will author 47 novels in his lifetime, as well as a handful of travel books and numerous short stories. This would be an impressive output for any writer — yet most of these works were written while Trollope was engaged on a distinguished full—time career in the Post Office. Hence the early mornings, as described in his Autobiography: It was my practice to be at my table every morning at 5.30a.m.; and it was also my practice to allow myself no mercy. An old groom, whose business it was to call me, and to whom I paid £5 a year extra for the duty, allowed himself no mercy. During all those years at Waltham Cross he was never once late with the coffee which it was his duty to bring me. I Wishful Thinking — 9do not know that I ought not to feel that I owe more to him than to any one else for the success I have had. By beginning at that hour I could complete my literary work before I dressed for breakfast. (Anthony Trollope, An Autobiography, 1883) What went through Trollope's mind as he lay there in bed, hearing the knock at the door and watching his manservant pour the coffee each morning? How did he feel? What made him get out of bed instead of turning over for another forty winks? Was he thinking of the joy of creation, of his characters and the next chapter in their story? Did he bound out of bed, eager to put pen to paper and lose himself in his imagination? Maybe. It's hard to imagine anyone writing 47 novels without taking some pleasure in the process, and this must have been factored into his plans. I would guess that once seated at his desk, he was soon absorbed in the pleasure of writing for its own sake — otherwise known as intrinsic motivation. But as he was lying there, acutely aware of the contrast between the warm bed and the cold January air? I'm not so sure. Was he thinking of the money he would make from his books? When the Autobiography was published after his death, Trollope's readers were shocked at his frank admission that he wrote for cash. His reputation suffered when critics condemned him for such base extrinsic motivation. Again, I'm sure that financial reward was a large factor in Trollope's resolve to get up so early each morning. But as he lay there in bed, poised between sleeping and waking? Did gold coins dance before his eyes and lure him to the table? Maybe, maybe not. Was he simply a very disciplined man, focused on his desire for achievement and made of sterner stuff than ordinary mortals? In this case, allowing himself "no mercy" would simply be down to his character, his personal motivation. But in that case, why would he need someone else to bring his coffee and get him out of bed? Surely he'd trust himself to get up on his own? Imagine for a moment that you are the great man, lying in that bed. It's nice and warm. You're sleepy. As you poke your hand out from the covers, you can feel the frost in the air. You'd like nothing more than to roll over and go back to sleep. But what would you tell the servant? "Sorry, it's too cold today"? "I'm tired"? "Can I just have five more minutes?" Or even worse — wake up later to find you nodded off in front of him... Imagine the loss of face You're awake now, sitting bolt upright, assuming the mantle of head of the household. In a moment you're out of bed and into character, slipping into the dressing gown he holds for you, thanking him for the coffee, making small talk about the weather and the fireplace. A few short steps and you're ensconced at your writing table, haloed by candlelight. As the manservant leaves the room, you feel a twinge of gratitude, even of solidarity. And appreciation of the effectiveness of this kind of interpersonal motivation. Or maybe it was just the coffee. Trollope's motivation for writing was clearly complex, with different types of motivation playing different roles. Yes he wanted to make money, but his chosen path must have been influenced by a love of reading and telling stories. He must have been disciplined and ambitious to plan such a punishing schedule for himself — yet he clearly did not trust himself to stick to it alone. So he set Wishful Thinking — 10a motivational trap for himself, baiting it with his vanity — at the crucial moment, he knew that he could not stay in bed without humiliating himself in front of his social inferior. No wonder he was so ready to acknowledge the old man's contribution to his success. Compared to life in a modern creative agency or studio, the creative process in Trollope's bedroom was pretty straightforward. The production work only involved two people, although publishers and the rest of the literary world came into play further down the line. The Victorian Post Office was very advanced for its day, but didn't have to deal with anything approaching the complexity or speed of today's global communications networks. Yet even in such a simple creative system we can trace several different types of motivation. How much more complex then, are the motivations, drives and influences at play in the 21st century creative economy? Trollope's example shows us that managing yourself is hard enough, but what if you are a manager responsible for the work of many different creative professionals? How can you balance the desires of these famously independent-minded workers with the competing pressures of your organisation, your clients and the marketplace? You know people do their best work when they are most committed to it — but how do you keep their motivation high when things get tough? What can you do if you don't have pots of money to throw at the problem? Or when somebody is being paid a small fortune and still doesn't seem interested? If you're a manager, this e-book will offer you practical options for approaching these challenges. Whether or not you manage other people, if creativity is central to your work then it should also help you fine-tune your own motivations, for maximum creative satisfaction and professional success. Wishful Thinking — 114. You Canʼt Motivate Anybody Photo by KenOkinawa ‘Motivation’ is often spoken about as if it were some kind of magic potion that you inject into people, or get them to imbibe before setting to work, like Asterix taking a tot from his hip flask before laying into the Roman legions. According to this view, it’s the manager’s job to motivate employees, like the stereotypical football coach bellowing at his charges through a microphone. Sometimes that can be a great idea, but as Arsene Wenger says, you can only really shout at people a couple of times a season if you want it to be effective — if you do it every week they just get used to it and ignore you. And if you have to shout, encourage and cajole your people to put the effort in every week, then something’s wrong. I once went to a seminar with psychotherapy guru Bill O’Hanlon where he talked about motivation in therapy. He drew an analogy with curling, the winter sport in which players take turns to throw a stone across the ice towards a target, while their teammates sweep the ice in front of it with brushes, to reduce friction and help the stone slide further. According to Bill, it’s not the therapist’s job to throw the stone — the impetus for change has to come from the client. The therapist’s role is to sweep the ice and help the client keep going, facilitating rather than pushing. I think the same applies to management — if you’ve got people who put plenty of force and direction into their throw, you can do a fantastic job scrubbing away the ice in front of them. But if there’s no energy coming from them, you can sweep all you like but the stone won’t move. So you can’t ‘motivate’ anybody else. You can show them the target, smooth the way and cheer them along. But motivation is something you draw out rather than put in. Wishful Thinking — 12Unfortunately, You CAN Demotivate People ‘Low motivation’ is sometimes offered as pseudo-diagnosis of an employee who is not performing as desired. But just about every time I’ve had the pleasure of working with such a designated ‘problem employee’ I find them to be incredibly motivated — just not about the things their manager wants them to do. Sometimes they are motivated about stuff that has nothing to do with their work — their allotment, their band, their sports team, their recipe for sweet-and-sour pork or their upcoming ascent of Kangchenjunga. These are often people in the wrong job, or people who see their job simply as a way to pay the bills. I’ve encountered fewer of these cases in the creative industries than in other sectors, probably because the competition for doing sexy creative jobs is usually so fierce that you have to be pretty driven to get in the door in the first place. But sadly I have encountered the other kind of ‘low motivation’ — where someone’s enthusiasm and commitment have been worn down or destroyed altogether by experiences at work, often involving their manager. Rightly or wrongly, these people have got the impression that their manager doesn’t care about (a) them as a person, (b) their contribution to the team, or both. They’re asking themselves ‘Why should I bother if it doesn’t make any difference?’. And the thing is, the manager often doesn’t realise how little it could take to turn things round. Once upon a time I was managing a software project. At five o’clock the day before our first big demonstration to the client, I received the delivery from the programmers, several days late. To my horror I discovered a major problem that would involve at least a day’s work to fix. Eager to impress, I stayed up all night to do it, painstakingly cutting and pasting hundreds of photos and captions into place. This wasn’t the first time I had worked late into the night. The next morning, the managing director swept into the office and asked for a preview of the presentation. Halfway through, he stopped me and pointed out a missing caption — “Who added these captions?” he asked. “Well I did, but –” I started, before he interrupted: “So that’s your fault then, isn’t it?” At that moment, he lost me. I never worked past 5.30 again, let alone weekends or all nighters. It wasn’t long before I started looking for a new job. I was always professional, but I realised it wasn’t worth going the extra mile for him. Looking back on it now, I guess he probably thought he was setting high standards, pushing me to do better next time. He probably never realised he’d shot himself in the foot — and how little it would have taken to maintain my enthusiasm. Going back to the curling analogy: as a manager you can’t throw the stone yourself, but you can easily block it if you’re not careful. So How Do I Make Sure My People Are Motivated? You can’t. Not 100% sure. As Mark Earls would put it, managers are accelerators and influencers — but ultimately not controllers. People always have a choice. But although you can’t guarantee motivation, there are several things you can do to make it more likely. Wishful Thinking — 13It may sound banal, but the most important thing is to hire motivated people. Remember, you can’t put motivation into people, only draw out and amplify what’s there already. Whenever you make a decision to hire or work with someone else, you obviously need to consider their talent, experience and qualifications — but don’t forget to ask: How committed is this person to our shared goal? If you can’t answer ‘very’ then you could be in for trouble, no matter how good they look on paper. Once people are on your team, I suggest you ask yourself two basic questions: 1. How do I tap into their core motivations and amplify them? 2. How do I avoid blocking these motivations? These questions are really two sides of the same coin, but as my example shows, it can be frighteningly easy to fall into the trap of 2 when you think you’re doing 1. Four Kinds of Motivation To answer the two questions above, in my next four chapters, I’ll consider four different kinds of motivation — the basic levers of influence available to you as a leader or manager: 1. Intrinsic motivation – the attraction of the work itself 2. Extrinsic motivation – rewards for doing the work 3. Personal motivation – individual values 4. Interpersonal motivation – social influences All four motivations apply to most kinds of work, but I’ll explain why I think it’s particularly important to get the right balance between them when you’re dealing with creative work and workers who see themselves as creative. As well as describing the four types of motivation, I’ll suggest some ways that you can use them to facilitate top creative performance. Wishful Thinking — 145. The Joy of Work — Intrinsic Motivation Photo by aleksey.const In Seth Godin’s new book Tribes, he tells the story of being on holiday in Jamaica, unable to sleep and getting up at 4 AM to check his e-mail in the hotel lobby. As he’s sitting there quietly minding his own business, a couple of partygoers roll in from a nightclub. One of them gives him a withering look and hisses ‘in a harsh whisper a little quieter than a yell’: isn’t it sad? That guy comes here on vacation and he’s stuck checking his e-mail. He can’t even enjoy his two weeks off. And the funny thing is, says Seth, ‘Other than sleeping, there was nothing I’d rather have been doing at that moment — because I’m lucky enough to have a job where I get to make change happen’. Seth is a classic case of a worker driven by intrinsic motivation — i.e. the work is rewarding in itself, something he does for the sheer pleasure of it. Many creative workers say ‘I love my work so much I do it for free’, but Seth take this further — according to one of his recent blog posts, he goes out of his way to avoid making money from most of his work. I’m not as hardcore as Seth about the money part, but I know how he feels about work. I love my work. I love reading, writing, researching and thinking of ideas. I love spending time with interesting, challenging, talented creative people. I love making new connections, between people, ideas, skills and resources. I love making things — my Wishful Thinking blog, my poems, my e-books, Lateral Action, my courses, animated videos — and who knows what next? Wishful Thinking — 15And the chances are, if you use your creativity at work, you feel the same way. You chose your job or your line of business not just because of the money or status but because it’s something you passionately want to do. You started off with a lot of enthusiasm and unless it’s been crushed or blocked, you probably still have it in spades. Maybe you take this for granted but in a lot of places the idea of enjoying your work would be seen as pretty weird. You’d be regarded as mad or sucking up to the boss. When I worked in a factory it was pretty well universally assumed among the workforce that we all hated being there. No one started work until the buzzer rang. Machines were switched off a minute or two before it rang for breaks, so that you didn’t find yourself shutting it down in a few precious seconds of your own time. At the end of the day, some people literally ran out the door. Whenever we talked about work it was with a kind of gallows humour. The only possible reason you could have for wanting to work late was that you were a ‘grabber’ — i.e. you wanted the extra money from overtime. But workplaces that foster creativity tend to be different. People want to work there — not just to be there, enjoying the trappings and rewards, but to work there. You might hear complaints about people — colleagues, clients, bosses etc — or about systems and processes. But you are less likely to hear complaints about the work itself — unless it’s not challenging, difficult, interesting or plain good enough. In fact, a large proportion of the complaints about people and systems tend to focus on the negative impact on the work — the client wasn’t brave enough, so the ad is going to be too tame, or the deadline was too tight so you didn’t have time to render the detail properly. In The Rise of the Creative Class, Richard Florida analyses a survey of IT workers’ motivations, conducted by Information Week in 2001. Over 20,000 workers were asked the question ‘What matters most to you about your job?’, and given a choice of 38 different factors. Florida points out that not only did money (an extrinsic motivation) rank only fourth, behind three different types of intrinsic motivation, but that ‘nine of the ten highly valued job factors are intrinsic’. Here they are, as ranked in order of importance by the survey respondents: 1. Challenge and responsibility 2. Flexibility 3. A stable work environment 4. Compensation 5. Professional development 6. Peer recognition 7. Stimulating colleagues and managers 8. Exciting job content 9. Organisational culture 10. Location and community Wishful Thinking — 16I might quibble over details — does peer recognition count as intrinsic motivation or an extrinsic reward? — but Florida’s analysis makes it overwhelmingly clear that these IT workers were far more motivated by intrinsic motivations (qualities inherent in the work itself) than by extrinsic motivations (rewards given for doing the work). And as he points out, IT workers are a fairly conservative sample of creative professionals: they have been said to be a fairly conventional sector of the Creative Class. They are certainly a good deal more mainstream than artists, musicians or advertising copywriters. On the other, IT workers are set to care a great deal about money. If you are responsible for managing a creative team, the exciting implication of all this is that your workers start from a baseline of enthusiasm. If you can act as a catalyst for this enthusiasm, and ensure that it’s directed towards the business goals of the organisation, you and your team have the potential to achieve spectacular results. Thousands of managers out there would love to be in your shoes. And the frightening implication is, as we saw in the previous chapter, you have a power to crush that enthusiasm that may well be greater than you realise. Handle with care Intrinsic Motivation Leads to Creative Excellence If you’re a manager then you might be forgiven for thinking ‘That’s all very well for creative types who like to have fun at work, but this is a business, not a poetry class. I get paid to deliver results, not to keep everyone happy. What difference does it make to me whether they’re enjoying themselves?’. Remember Theresa Amabile's intrinsic motivation principle of creativity: People will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself — not by external pressures. Amabile’s research findings are echoed by these words from Chris Jones, Chief Executive of J Walter Thompson worldwide: People who are really good aren’t motivated by more money. They set themselves extraordinarily high standards. You won’t get their standards to go any higher by saying ‘ here’s some more money’. (Quoted in Tantrums & Talent: How to Get the Best from Creative People, by Winston Fletcher, 2000) So if you’re a hard-nosed manager focused on results, facilitate excellence by making sure your team are focused on the task itself, rather than dangling external rewards in front of them. Wishful Thinking — 17Types of Intrinsic Motivation Challenge One day in the late 1970s, Sony co-founder Akio Morita called a meeting of his chief engineers. On the table in front of him he placed a very small block of wood. He told them that their task was to make a hi-fi no bigger than the block. At the time this was an outrageous challenge — but one that fired the imagination of his engineers and led to the release of the Walkman in 1979. Creative people like nothing more than a challenge — the more difficult, the better. Interest Creatives have a very low boredom threshold. One of the most common complaints among junior creatives is that the senior people take all the interesting work and leave them with the routine stuff. And they’re usually right. In some companies, the opportunity to work on complex, interesting briefs is seen as a right that has to be earned. Inevitably, a certain amount of fairly routine work needs to be done in any company; a common way of persuading people to do it is to promise them something more interesting ‘next time’. Learning Challenge and interest fuel the learning process. A large part of the satisfaction of creative work comes from discovering something you didn’t know before and developing new skills in the process. This is what Honda mean when they say that problems are a joy. Meaning When the partygoers looked at Seth Godin in the hotel lobby, they only saw a geek checking his e-mail. They didn’t realise that those e-mails connect Seth with a global audience of hundreds of thousands. They had no idea that for Seth, writing e-mails, blog posts, books and presentations means he is helping to change the world. They only saw the superficial activity, not the meaning, and missed the attraction. Purpose Work becomes more attractive when we feel it is achieving something important. There’s a world of difference between photocopying an expenses claim and photocopying inspiring source material for your novel. It can be fun to design a website, but it’s the website of your favourite band or a charity in the business of saving people’s lives, the task goes beyond fun and becomes compelling. Because it involves external results, you might be tempted to consider purpose as an extensive reward — but I’m not talking about a personal reward you receive for having done the work, but an effect that is integral to the work itself, usually affecting people or situations beyond your usual sphere of influence. So does purpose = completely selfless action? Absolutely not. This sense of purpose is the reward. Wishful Thinking — 18Creative flow I’ve written before about psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of creative flow — the state of intense absorption and pleasure that for many of us is the main motivation for doing creative work. The cause of creative flow is usually a combination of the intrinsic motivations I’ve just listed, particularly a balance between the challenge in front of you and your levels of skill. The result is what happens when all the different elements resolve themselves into a highly focused state, experienced as sheer joy. Managing Intrinsic Motivation I could easily have called this section ‘nailing jelly to a post’. By definition, intrinsic motivation works through spontaneity, pleasure and fascination — none of which can be served up to order. No wonder managing creative people is often described as ‘herding cats’, notoriously wilful and independent creatures. But if you can’t control it, you can coax it to some extent. Here are a few suggestions: Do something inspiring Look at the photo of Iggy Pop at the start of this chapter. Does your work make you feel like that? If not, why not? Iggy is inspiring because he is inspired. It's an understatement to say that he loves what he does — looking at his face, you can see he has to do it. He's fulfilling his purpose on earth. Are you? If so, you won't need to worry about motivating yourself — and you'll find it easy to inspire others. If not, things are more difficult. Creative people are hardwired to sniff out a fake. You can't inspire them with company goals, but show them your passion for the work you do together, and you're in with a chance. If you came to this e-book looking for quick fixes and management techniques that will work regardless of whether you care about the work itself, you may be disappointed at this point. Sorry. That's just the way it is, where creativity is concerned. If you don't believe me, have another look at Iggy's face. Set them a challenge Remember, creatives love a challenge. How can you make the brief more difficult? More inspiring? More extreme? On the flipside, there are few things more demotivating than a clearly impossible goal. Why bother if you can’t succeed? Challenging but not impossible — it’s a delicate balance. Define the goal clearly If there’s one thing worse than a boring or easy brief, it’s a vague one. ‘Write a story’ is terrible. ‘Write a superhero story’ isn’t much better. ‘Write a Batman story’ at least gives me something to work with. ‘Write a Batman story in which his identity is exposed’, or ‘where he lets himself and Wishful Thinking — 19the city down’, or ‘where he loses all his gadgets and has to rely on his wits’ — now I’ve got something to get my teeth into. Never underestimate the value of creative constraints. Eliminate distractions and interruptions Help them concentrate. Don’t interrupt them — or let others interrupt them — unless it’s important AND urgent. As far as possible, help them ‘batch’ meetings, conversations, and day-to-day tasks so that they don’t keep interfering with focused work. Whatever distractions arise, remind them that the work itself is their primary responsibility. Match the work to the worker Make it your business to know everyone on the team, including the kind of work they love to do. Whenever possible, give them tasks that suit their talents. Their reward will be more job satisfaction. Yours will be better results. Let them get on with it This is a tricky one. Creatives hate being micromanaged and told what to do every step of the way. But ultimately you’re accountable for the work, so you need to make sure they are delivering on brief. If you’re a creative yourself, you’ll have to deal with the added temptation to show them how you would do it, and the fact that they may approach it in a very different way. There are no easy answers, but it helps if you’re very clear about what you are asking them to make, and your criteria for success, and then leave how to do it up to them. Reward behaviours, not results At the US software developer SAS, managers are trained to reward those responsible for new initiatives before it becomes obvious whether the initiative has succeeded or failed. Why? Because their aim is to foster a culture of innovation. If they only rewarded successful projects, employees would be much more careful about proposing and acting on new ideas. This way, the company benefits from many more ideas and people who are more prepared to take a risk and try things out. Coach creative flow Coaching is a great way of coaxing creative flow out of people — have a look at my blog post on How coaching creates creative flow for some tips. Wishful Thinking — 20Over to You How important to you are intrinsic motivations such as challenge, learning and creative flow — relative to external rewards like money or status? Can you think of any other intrinsic motivations to add to my list? Can you think of any other ways to facilitate intrinsic motivation? Join the discussion by leaving a comment on the original blog post. Wishful Thinking — 216. Rewards for Work — Extrinsic Motivation Photo by adventtr “I went into the business for money and the art grew out of it. If people are disillusioned by that remark, I can’t help it. It’s the truth.” (Charlie Chaplin, Academy Award acceptance speech, 1972) Show me a professional artist or creative with no ambition and I’ll show you a liar. No matter how much we may love our art for its own sake, very few of us will turn our noses up at the rewards on offer, such as money, fame, status and privilege. Such rewards are known as extrinsic motivations, because they are external to the work itself. In many creative fields, the extrinsic rewards on offer are so spectacular that competition is cutthroat and hordes of young (and not so young) hopefuls are prepared to invest huge amounts of time, effort and energy for a shot at the big time. ‘But hang on a minute — didn’t you say in the last chapter that intrinsic motivation is critical for creative success? And that most creative professionals are more motivated by the joy of work than by money?’ Absolutely. If you want to produce outstanding creative work, then while you’re working you need to be 100% focused on the task in hand. In fact, you probably need to be obsessed by your work. But that doesn’t mean you don’t care about the rewards. Have another look at the list of IT workers’ motivations in the last chapter — ‘compensation’ is not the highest ranked motivation, but it still comes in fourth place, above professional development, peer recognition and ‘exciting job content’. Money may be relatively less important than things like challenge and flexibility, but Wishful Thinking — 22

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