Here’s a great podcast from EconTalk with Paul Graham on Start-Ups, Innovation and Creativity.
Graham works in a group called Y Combinator that invests money early on with new business ideas to get them going. He makes judgment calls on business ideas and people and has interesting thoughts on the subject and it made me think of a dimension we often neglect when hiring people: creativity.
When hiring we put a premium on those who can get things done, aka doers, and ignore creativity neglecting the fact that most organizations were started by creative people, many game changing ideas come from creative minds and many of your smaller competitors have more creative people.
Many large organizations repel creativity. Does yours?
Attracting and retaining creative people takes more than putting a Fooz-Ball table in the break room. It’s really about giving them a bit of rope and seeing what they can do with it and expecting that some things simply aren’t going to work.
At the business where I work, for example, I often hear people try to sell others on a new business model which usually leads to a discussion between smart people on why it will or will not work, but there is no mechanism for someone to go out and give it a try.
Giving it a try entails pushing the idea through the gauntlet of doers who all put their own rider on the idea, making what comes out the other end look like a Rube Goldberg device. Surprise surprise, the idea fails. But few people question whether the idea was bad or the execution made impossible by the gauntlet.
Perhaps giving it a try should look more like a leader handing the person with the idea a bag of money, telling them to not break the law or make the company look bad and report back in a few months or a year to see how the experiment is working. After all, that’s pretty much how most large organizations were started.