Wednesday, May 5, 2010

FEI2010 Keynote – Sustaining Positive Spirals of Creativity

C. Engdahl reporting from FEI2010

Sustaining Positive Spirals of Creativity
Presented by Teresa Amabile, Author & Professor Harvard Business School

“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” - A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

In a presentation that could have easily been titled “A Tale of Two NPD Groups”, Professor Teresa Amabile of Harvard Business School opened her address by asking audience members to share stories about their best days and worst days at work. A few brave souls came forth.

Whether a person has a best day or worst day is driven largely by what Professor Amabile describes as “Inner Work Life”. And interestingly, although perhaps not surprisingly, “Inner Work Life” can have a profound effect on organizational performance, particularly as it relates to New Product Development.

Years of research, including extensive diary field studies led Professor Amabile to isolate the concept of Inner Work Life and to conclude simply that:
a) Inner Work Life Drives Performance

… relatedly

b) Perceptions Drive Performance, and
c) Motivation Drives Performance

Characterized by positive perceptions, elated emotions, and a strong motivation to engage in work related activities, “Great Inner Work Life” has positive effects on NPD performance. Conversely, “Terrible Inner Work Life”, characterized by negative perceptions, dark emotions, and weak motivations concerning work has negative effects on NPD performance. Professor Amabile used the story of two companies (names changed to protect the innocent - or guilty depending on how you look at it) which clearly demonstrated these positive and negative effects.
So Inner Work Life drives performance, but what drives Inner Work Life? (Take note all who desire increased NPD success).

1) Progress at Work – the feeling that projects are moving forward and not being blocked. Projects don’t necessarily always need to be completed or resolved, rather progress needs to be demonstrated
2) Project Support – receiving anything that directly helps work activities such as clear meaningful goals, sufficient resources, sufficient but not too much time, etc.
3) Personal Support – getting social and emotional support, encouragement, and recognition

Does your organization do what it takes to create a Great Inner Work Life for employees?

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