By Eric Smith
Every business needs intellectual capital to thrive. By intellectual capital I mean the know-how, innovation, brains, talent, and imagination required to find and solve problems. The leaders I admire have an ability to design the workplace that liberates intellectual capital. If you want a workplace where creativity thrives, here are some things to avoid:
Policies serve people, not the other way around. The value of a policy is that it prevents the need to make the same decision over and over again. However, over time—especially with the on-boarding of new employees—it’s easy to forget the context of the creation of the policy and begin to apply the policy to situations it was never intended to address. This is why annual review of policies is important.
2. Command and control leadership
This seems so self-evident to me I hardly know how to address it. There’s simply no way your people are going to feel the space for creativity and effective problem solving if all they’re worried about is doing exactly what the boss wants.
4. Constant restructuring
Every time a person’s role changes, even slightly, there’s a learning curve that delays production. That’s not to say shifts in job descriptions are bad, it’s simply to say that loss of productivity has to be accounted for as the person adjusts to the new or modified role. The danger for me is that I enjoy constantly tweaking the environment. If I’m not careful to pace changes, I run the risk of frustrating the people I work with.
4. Fear of failure
How do you respond to the failure of others? Do you chastise them? Do you tell them the last person who had their job wouldn’t make that mistake? Do you tell them it’s okay while allowing your body language to communicate it’s actually not? One of the joys of working in a start-up is that failure is assumed. Every failure is viewed as an opportunity to learn. Not that we want to be irresponsible with it, but there is a sense of “Ready…FIRE…Aim.” As we would say in the Army, “Adjust, fire, and drive on.”