As young, inexperienced dreamers entering the big wide world of employment, we all entertained grand ideas, passions, and fantasies of enormous success, fame or acclaim. We have finished our schooling, perhaps further education, we’ve answered all the ‘what career to follow’ questionnaires and picked a direction, setting out in the safe knowledge that we will [...]
When Shizuka Arakawa won the figure skating gold medal in the 2006 Olympic Games, her error free performance marked an achievement beyond the purely personal. The second oldest women to win a figure skating gold medal, she was also the first Asian women to do so. And she quite literally put something behind her on the way to this victory: her bottom, which she had landed on some 20,000 times on her long journey from beginner to Olympic champion. Though doing so may have lacked dignity, there is a valuable lesson in her example, as Geoff Colvin pointed out in less than gentlemanly fashion in his book, Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else – “Landing on your butt twenty thousand times is where great performance comes from.” […]
So what will put the ‘New’ into ‘New Year’? And what might stop that happening, leaving us living through “2013 – The Sequel”? The first barrier is probably risk: creativity and innovation isn’t a guarantee of success, even if an absence of them might speed up the process of failure. In an environment where resources remain tight, and may continue to do so, a reduced appetite for risk is understandable. But risk is fundamental to success: ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ may be a cliché but it’s also a truism, and risk is one of the major food groups in any organisation’s diet.
Where and how we work are closely related to each other, and impact similarly closely on our outputs. Job design – how the content and structure of what we do during the day optimise opportunities, play to and extend our strengths or avoid problems further down the line - is often a topic of HR and L&D debate. Yet the environments in which these jobs play out are often given less attention: the design of ‘the workplace’ – one of the most over-used words of our time? – is often seen as having moved from being an issue that either still belongs in the estates and facilities remit, or which is now influenced by an idea of branding: office design as visual branding.
There are a fair few tropes that remain perpetual battlegrounds in the world of L&D, HR and OD: profits vs people as an over-riding focus and talent’s opposing ‘nature’ vs. ‘nurture’ battalions spring immediately to mind. One of the more abstract of these perennial topics is the divide between process and creativity – or perhaps we should say the perceived divide. That this is an issue that will probably never leave us is well-illustrated by a blog post by Todd Williams, although the apparently inflammatory title – Process Stifles Creativity – was perhaps a rather knowing case of squirting lighter fluid onto the bonfire. Todd’s themes are more balanced than his title suggests, but one sentence very much stood out for me: People are not rewarded for being creative with the process; in fact, the reaction is quite the opposite.” […]