Jerks Can Be Creativity Killers, Alright


Saw this in the most recent Fast Company:  Is Your Manager A Creativity Killer? If the manager is something like a case study from the book The No A**hole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't, then the answer is probably yes.

Norm Bodek always teaches that everybody is creative… we just get it drummed out of us by school and the workplace. As Dr. Deming taught, intrinsic motivation can only go DOWN over time… an organization can only hope to  not de-motivate people and I'd assume there's a  corollary  that you can only avoid making people less creative – you can't make them more creative.

The three short stories in the FC piece illustrate why.

The story starts with some delicious data:

A recent study shows that 64% of bosses say they inspire creativity; just 41% of their employees agree.

In the three short case studies:

  1. You have a manager, described as “an ass,” whose behavior (shouting and browbeating) doesn't live up their inspirational quote about “creativity takes courage.”
  2. A manager who gives a pep talk about brainstorming big ideas… and then violates basic brainstorming rules by shouting down every idea.
  3. An organization with an online suggestion box where the manager would read “the stupidest ones” to a friend over the phone. Yup, that will kill an improvement program.

How can leaders be that unaware of the impact of their behavior on their employees and their organizations?


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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

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