Vineet Nayar, who keynoted at the AHRI National Convention this year, discusses how to drive creativity in the workplace, drawing on Apple’s Steve Jobs’ belief that creativity is “just connecting things”, but adding that creativity must partner with the best brains in the workplace to deliver optimal market success.
The people process: syncing creativity with quality
I remember reading this rather memorable quote by Steve Jobs: “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesise new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.” That summed up the whole role of people in the process of creation and development beautifully for me. For, at the end of the day, creativity at work is the outcome of talented people weaving wonders within a business process.
Understandably then, it begins with getting the right people in the right jobs. Former CEO of Honeywell, Larry Bossidy, understood the criticality of the getting the right people at key positions. So much so that he would personally make the time to evaluate and even make the calls to check references for them. This was because he realised that with the right people in the right jobs, a leadership gene pool that conceives and selects strategies was being formed. The people in turn work together to create a strategy block by block – a strategy that is in sync with the realities of the marketplace, the economy, and the competition. It is then they link to an operating process that allows the implementation of programmes and assigns accountability.
When it comes to uniting people with processes, I feel that nothing works as well as the “people process” itself. What really, would one say that a good people process should do? Primarily three things: It ought to be able to evaluate individuals accurately and in depth. It should provide a framework for identifying and developing the leadership talent – at all levels and of all kinds – the organisation will need to execute its strategies down the road. And finally, last but not the least, it should fill the leadership pipeline that is the basis of a strong succession plan by developing potential leaders. It is only with an effective people process in place that an organisation can move towards success with any degree of surety.
The whole train of processes, which is set in motion from the people process, is crucial to the well being of any organisation and definitely gives it the edge over any other organisation, which develops its operating process by looking backward, as it were, rather than forward.
Another beautiful example of how creativity and quality unite seamlessly is the ownership culture. What it does is reinforce the basic entrepreneurial law: What’s good for the business is good for the entrepreneur. For a second, just visualise every single person in the organisation sharing the same belief and try and imagine the possibilities of the business if every employee believed in the purpose of the business and believed in the reward for exercising initiative in creating value for the customers and thus profit the business. That is the magic moment when ownership culture is created, because the employees think and act like the owners of the business.
It combines the best of both people and processes as it ensures flexibility in order to cater to the end consumer – the customer, while it capitalises on the accelerating pace of change through the same flexibility.
This article first appeared at vineetnayar.com.
Vineet Nayar spoke at the 2014 AHRI National Convention. Expressions of interest for the 2015 AHRI National Convention are now open on the website.