Finding the fruitful intersection of ideas and organisation

By Peter Kerr 18/02/2014

 Ultimately this blog is a plug for Stephen Cummings handbook of ways that business can fruitfully marry management and creativity.

Along the way it is also an endorsement of the Professor of Management at Victoria University’s Business School, and in particular the part he played in what was Industrial Research Ltd’s former Leadership Development Programme (LDP). (See page 5).

The LDP was essentially an MBA on steroids – condensing into a couple of weeks what often is a two year grind. Stephen was one of the LDP facilitators.

From (the former) IRL’s point of view, not only did the LDP expose and encourage  its researchers and staff into leadership roles, it was also a highly productive and cost-effective way to encourage ideas that would be of benefit to IRL and its clients.

The LDP gave permission for ‘ordinary’ IRL people to grow, to literally think outside the square of what the former crown research institute could or should be.

As a result, the ‘What’s Your Problem New Zealand’ concept, of a million dollars of research for a commercial challenge that had major potential to impact, was born.

The ‘Scientist for a Day’ programme, opening the doors of Gracefield to the general public was another initiative. (Coastal Markers Ltd used the day to introduce themselves to the science capability on its doorstep).

Some of the thinking, outcomes and research behind the LDP is no doubt included in Stephen Cummings and Chris Bilton’s ‘Handbook of Management and Creativity’. (Check near the end of the blog and you’ll find a link to a discounted early-bird order).

I gave the challenge to Stephen to give a one sentence line as to: why AREN’T management and creativity diametrically opposed.

And inch being pretty close to a mile, this was his email reply.

“The Handbook is based on the idea that good management and creativity are similar: they both require the effective combination of disciplined focus and unstructured free-association. We tend to see management as the opposite of creativity, but this is largely for historical reasons. In the middle of the 20th history management’s fundamental aim was defined as the pursuit of efficiency. Part of this limited definition of intent was reference to pioneers like FW Taylor (so called creator of Scientific Management) who were claimed to be only focussed on efficiency. However, was is forgotten in management history is that Taylor’s ideas were destined for the scrapheap until a young lawyer called Louis Brandeis remodelled them and used them to attack big business interests in a high profile legal case in 1910. ‘Conservation’ was the big political issue of the day, as governments sought ways to combat rampant business  exploitation and Brandeis connected these new ides about management to show how business could more carefully and creatively utilize their resources and share their wealth. The aim of the ‘conservation movement’, of which Brandeis, Taylor and FD Roosevelt were a part, ascribed this thinking was “the greatest good for the greatest number for the longest time.” If history had been interpreted differently and we had come to see this more open guiding principle of management then we might not see management and creativity as opposites in the first place.”

And here’s the original email that earned Stephen his plug.

We are pleased to offer a special promotional price on The Handbook of Management and Creativity, a compilation of new research and case studies on the relationship between management and creativity (see the attached flyer). The book features experts from the fields of management studies, creative industries research, organisational studies and strategy. Further details can be seen via the weblink below (and extracts are available via Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ option). Some of the research findings in the handbook are also discussed in a blog which you can find here

We are able to the handbook to our personal networks at a special discounted price of £40 (+p&p). The discount is available to individuals only (not for libraries or institutions) between now and the end of March.

To order please click or email, quoting promotional code BILT40

Please take advantage of what we think is a pretty generous offer from the publishers and please provide any of your own comments and thoughts about management and creativity in general or the book in particular on the blog site. It would be great if you could contribute to the discussion. And please tweet/linkedin/pass on information about the book to any of your friends/colleagues/networks that you think might be interested.