Archive for November, 2007

Cultivating Creativity

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

Dr. Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, is currently teaching at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. He recently authored an interesting column published in the Canada’s “The Globe and Mail”. Here is a short excerpt from the full article found here at www.theglobandmail.com:

“…I had my hair cut in Toronto. It turned out that the hairdresser, a stylish young man in his late 20s or early 30s, was once a resident of Birmingham, an upscale suburb of Detroit that I knew well because my wife lived there when we met.

Without thinking, I said, “My wife used to get her hair done in Birmingham; what salon did you work in?”

“I wasn’t a hairstylist then, man. I worked for General Motors,” he said. “Really?” I said, trying to dig myself out of a hole. “What plant did you work at?” “Plant?” came his reply. “I didn’t work in a factory — I’m a mechanical engineer and I worked on new product development.”

My jaw dropped. This man had quit a high-paying job in a good company so he could cut people’s hair. He had left the creative class because it wasn’t creative enough for him and had gone into a service industry to express his creativity.

The point of retelling this story is not that his current line of work is better than his old one; it’s that we need to expand our view of what good jobs can be and how to create them.

From The Globe and Mail Update on theglobeandmail.com 11/24/07

I found this column interesting and insightful, but I would be interested in your opinion. Having a great deal of familiarity with Florida’s books, I would consider myself a “fan” of his work and his ideas. But the readers of The Globe and Mail seem to be polarized (the majority are not favorable) by the article and by Florida himself (see their comments here). I’ve looked at the article a few times and am not quite sure I read the same thing as some of the commenting readers!

What do you think?

UPDATE: Read Dr. Florida’s response regarding the reader commentaries (including a nice shout out for TMIE here!

Is The Customer Always Right?

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

In a recent interview with Smart Business, the president of Ka Architecture, James B. Heller, pointed out that there are clearly times when the company needs be loyal and side with its employees during a customer-related issue. During the interview, Heller reflected on one particular situation in which an architect had a customer was extremely unhappy with him and was disgruntled. Instead of disciplining the employee, Heller supported the architect’s view of the situation and personally helped him to work out the conflict with the client, thus strengthening both the customer’s and the employee’s loyalty at the same time.

Here is how Heller recommends how organizations should consider approaching this type of scenario:

“Typically, I might get a call from a client who identifies a concern. They say, “This is happening on this particular project.” There’s a problem there, whatever it might be. One pitfall is to too quickly jump on that particular project manager and always side with the client. The typical comment, “The client is always right” — well, don’t fall into that trap. Have a face-to-face conversation with that staff person. Understand there are always two sides to every story, and work with that person to solve the problem. Don’t jump down on that person.”

What do you think of this approach. Can you think of an example in which the company applied a similar approach in order to strengthen engagement?

Employee Engagement in “Human Sigma”

Monday, November 12th, 2007

Human Sigma
Here is an interesting thought on the topic of employee engagement from a brand new book, Human Sigma: Managing the Employee-Customer Encounter by John H. Fleming and Jim Asplund (2007, Gallup Press).

“Too many organizations build management models on the assumption that managers and leaders have the power in the company/employee relationship, but that’s no longer always the case. The answer is employee engagement or the ability to capture the heads, hearts, and souls of your employees to instill an intrinsic desire and passion for excellence. Engaged employees want their organization to succeed because they feel connected emotionally, socially, and even spiritually to its mission, vision, and purpose.”

Rules For Renegades

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Rules For Renegades

I recently purchased the book Rules for Renegades: How to Make More Money, Rock Your Career, and Revel in Your Individuality by Christine Comaford-Lynch, which is a fresh and irreverent guide to individual entrepreneurship and career management. I was first exposed to this work after attending the most recent First Friday Book Club, a Dallas-based monthly event that aims to introduce current business bestselling books to the local business community by presenting interesting and entertaining synopses (The folks who run the FFBC, Karl Krayer and Randy Mayeux of the Creative Communication Network, also have an interesting blog.

Ms. Comaford-Lynch colorfully describes her journey of “ups and downs” in the world of business, from high school drop out to millionaire entrepreneur. In addition to sharing her varied experiences (from working with major organizations such as Microsoft to consulting on technology for the Clinton administration), Ms. Comaford-Lynch provides readers with a ton of practical tools to support their own efforts. It is an truly engaging read and I’ve found the passion, candor, and energy displayed in her writing to be extremely inspiring and motivating.

I noted one small passage that particularly resonated with me regarding the subject of employee engagement:

“Remember that true leaders are always elevating the status of others. Think of all the ways you can elevate the status of your team. Then do it.”

From Rules for Renegades: How to Make More Money, Rock Your Career, and Revel in Your Individuality by Christine Comaford-Lynch (2007: McGraw-Hill, New York)