I am struck by the frequency of seeing Innovation among business goals in a variety of organizations and industries.  Makes sense.  Innovation leads to acceptance and management of change; adoption of tools and practices; development of new services and products.


In at least a few organizations, however, active development of creativity (i.e., innovation) fails to occur.  Perhaps it is useful to consider that creativity, as many competencies, needs attention to develop.  It does not “just happen.”  How might creativity be actively developed?


According to experts, creativity is first largely based on knowledge: increasing one’s knowledge of a subject (e.g., management) is a way to expand one’s ability to be creative.


Another aspect of creativity may be developed through actively associating previously unrelated concepts or ideas: learning to think differently.  This step in building creativity can be achieved if one can break from some common social/cultural barriers as well as ingrained individual/ emotional barriers.  Examples of social/cultural barriers:

  • Fantasy and reflection are a sign of laziness, a waste of time.
  • Problem solving is serious stuff, and humor has no place in it.


A third dimension of creativity seems well within most managers’ influence: creating an environment in which employees feel encouraged to offer their creative thinking and ideas.  Enlightened managers may need to address barriers in this dimension as well.  For example:

  • Awareness of an organization’s highly structured rules, procedures and communication channels
  • Recognition of – and overcoming – personal behaviors such as reacting to negative parts of a proposed idea rather than the positive ones; acting as a boss and controller rather than as a facilitator or resource.


Working to develop your own creativity is personally rewarding and sets a positive example for your team.  Working to develop your team’s creativity builds a resource: new ideas and improved problem solving. Perhaps more important, developing your team’s creativity is motivational.


What better reason to offer one’s creativity than to work in an environment in which new ideas are heard, valued and encouraged?

An individual has resigned, and you’re the potential hiring manager.  Where to begin?


If your response is to contact human resources and re-fill the position just as it was, you’re not alone.  Perhaps, though, this is an opportunity to (re)consider your approach: one that builds on the strengths of your team and the organization.


Past and Present

  • Consider your current team: their talents, skills, experience and competencies.
  • Consider situations in which your team has succeeded and note the reasons.


Future:  Now look ahead to situations the business will face over the planning period ahead.

  • What needs to be accomplished?
  • What skills and competencies will help your team continue to succeed and contribute to business success?
  • Which individuals do you or will you rely on?
  • Whose strengths can be leveraged and shared?
  • Whose skills or competencies need additional polish?


Based upon these considerations, decide what competencies will be important to the success of a new hire within the team.  Consider the variety of prior experience an individual may have that would demonstrate these competencies.


If the organization talks about promoting and developing from within,  look for individuals ‘hidden’ within other departments or locations who could be successful in this position if only offered the opportunity.


Asking current team members for connections and suggestions can add to your store of knowledge while adding the additional benefits of continuing team building, trust building and team ownership of the process.


This combined information and knowledge will be a giant step to initiate active recruiting – internal and/or external – that can bring potentially strong applicants to your attention.

The Department of Labor (DOL) is busy reviewing over 290,000 public comments submitted on proposed key changes to the regulations defining exemptions from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  Good for business leaders who made their opinions known: whether in support or contention.

Experts agree that change will come, as this issue has the focused attention of the Administration.  While there is some thought that the DOL may reduce the target salary threshold to something less than the 40th percentile of earnings for full-time salaried workers, change will be significant.

Now is a good time to consider how best to manage the impact of proposed changes, whether the salary threshold is set at $970 per week, the current 40th percentile; $852 per week, the current 35th percentile or $773 per week, the current 30th percentile.

There are financial and operational considerations:

  • The first obvious question: What positions’ pay rates will fall below each of these thresholds?
  • Will pay rates below a threshold be increased to maintain exempt status or will positions be reclassified as nonexempt, eligible for overtime pay?
    • If reclassification is elected, are timekeeping and other systems adequate?
    • How will pay rates for positions “close to” the thresholds be managed?
  • How many hours do employees in likely reclassified nonexempt positions routinely work per week?
    • If a routine work week is more than 40 hours, will base pay rates remain the same or will rates be reduced to account for likely overtime compensation?
    • Will alternative salary practices be considered?
  • How will anticipated changes impact operational issues such as staffing, scheduling and work assignments?
  • What changes will be required to job duties or descriptions?

There are also important workplace culture considerations:

  • What is your communication plan?
  • When will you talk with employees?
  • What information will you share?
  • What tone will you set?

Answers to these and other questions will be important to your business.  Consider them well.  Consult your advisors.  Be as prepared as you can be.


Remember the last time you heard an idea for the first time – or bought a new car or heard the really unusual name your friends gave their baby?  After that, you kept hearing it or seeing it over and over.

I have been the happy victim of this phenomenon* over the last few weeks.

  • I reviewed some useful business texts and re-discovered a favorite teamwork concept: Somebody, Nobody, Everybody.
    • If Somebody on the team makes a mistake, needs help, etc. – and Nobody steps up – then Everybody loses. Alternatively, if Somebody helps correct that mistake or clean up the mess or share information – then Everybody wins.
  • A colleague shared some ideas about what her organization calls “team service.” Hers is a food service business.  One example made her point:
    • The work standard is that guests are not served their entrée while empty appetizer dishes remain on the table. Team service directs that no matter your title or position, when a guest has finished an appetizer, you step up to remove that plate. You do not look away or pretend you didn’t notice the empty plate.  Team service reflects well on everyone.
  • A friend described a recent positive experience as a hotel guest. While she was complimenting one of the individuals who had served her well, he shared:
    • As an individual contributor, he can fully control two things: service and cleanliness. He understands that his consistent attention to getting those two things right helps his team and the entire hotel.

Over the next several weeks, I will continue to observe more situations that support what these episodes demonstrate: that we each need others on our teams to succeed.  Details will vary but each situation will offer opportunities to learn, build skills and reinforce knowledge.  What a happy phenomenon.

* In case you’re wondering – as I would be wondering – the phenomenon has been named.  The term Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon was invented in 1994.  Then in 2006, the more colloquial “frequency illusion” term was coined.