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Creativity


Creativity

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Steve Jones
Steve Jones
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Comments posted to this topic are about the item Creativity

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There are a lot of points raised in this one Steve!

A good manager should listen as well as speak in both directions in their chain of command. Typically they listen to their managers and speak to their workforce: there's less listening to the workforce and passing that on up the chain because that's not the perceived hierarchy. The workforce works 'for' their manager who passes commands 'down' to their workforce. If the chain can be seen as a two-way channel, with the manager working for their workforce as well as vice versa, then efficiency, motivation and therefore productivity all benefit.

As for 'early/late': this is just one dimension in the management triangle along with "under or over budget" and "inside or outside spec/QA". With estimates being as inaccurate as we know they are, the triangle needs to adapt to cope with the limitations placed upon it by adjusting timescale, cost or deliverables.
chrisn-585491
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I have a long list of projects that would make clients and coworkers more productive. It's buried under a list of production ToDo's that keep the company and clients operational. And that list is subservient to the whims of superiors, project managers and "top clients"....
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Think time used to be built in to project estimates. It was expected that considerable time would be spent in thinking mode. I believe the general number was 20%. Today, managers want to treat IT workers like robots who should know everything and be productive immediately on a project.

I was asked once why I wasn't typing on my keyboard. I said I needed time to think about a bug that was raised in testing. The manager said that maybe they would replace me with someone who didn't need to think. Wow

I have been involved in efforts to take one to two weeks off to work on ideas to help the organization. They weren't necessarily IT related, but, most ideas had an IT component. It was very nice to be able to do that and some great ideas were born. Upper management thought it was wasted time and fired the manager who came up with the idea. Crazy
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We used to have what we called "Funky Friday" where we would learn new skills or collaborate with other areas of the IT team to automate tasks for example or combine skillsets to acheive a task of our choosing. The skills learned translated directly into improvements to project work and gave people greater knowledge beyond their individual specialisation.
djackson 22568
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Good luck! Most companies are not managed well enough to handle thoughts along these lines.

I fondly remember those companies I have worked for that did think this way. I can assure you we were far more productive than companies that don't think this way. For example, in one company I worked for that developed software, we tended to work about 35 hours a week, and have about 5 hours for whatever we wanted. We wrote experimental code to learn how things worked, we developed concepts that were implemented in later releases, we dove into bugs that we wanted to fix, but that the company had not yet agreed to make a priority.

Along the way, we released 6 versions of the software during my tenure, all of which were not only on time but early! Only one wasn't early, and that was because of scope creep, yet we still hit the original release date!

Another company I worked for not only allowed developers to spend work hours learning new things, it encouraged it. I believe in the two years I was there, I spent almost 4 weeks just reading about and trying new things. Initial hires were put through a rigorous training program, self directed by the way, and were allowed up to 12 weeks to complete that work. Finishing early was fine as long as you hit all of the goals of the program. Senior people graded your work to ensure no shortcuts were taken. There was significant prestige for finishing early while exceeding the goals, especially for those of us who extended what the training application could do. :-D

IMO most companies are too focused on productivity as measured by the day. Make your staff work more hours, don't pay for sufficient staff to allow true breaks for PTO, call them at all hours of the day and night. Companies that do this save in the short term, but drive increased turnover rates, burnout, stress and even violence in the work place. Overall the costs end up being far higher.

Your post may be about "down time", but the root issue is allowing the people you pay to be experts to actually be what you pay them to be. Down time is one solution, there are many ways to accomplish the same thing though. Empower your people (in reality, not marketing speak!) and they will produce more benefit to the organization than you can imagine. Some companies recognize this, but I doubt that most of them do.

Dave
Rod
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Good article, Steve, with a lot of interesting points. In my current job situation we're way too short staffed to be able to take much time off to do creative activities such as you describe. If we stop one thing, 3 others are behind it requiring immediate attention. However, it hasn't always been that way here. When I first joined we had more people and could take the time to experiment with ideas. In fact, our boss gave us an afternoon off, each week, to test something new or learn something different. That was really great and one of the best things I loved about working here. Almost everyone took advantage of it, although there was one lady who refused to spend any time learning anything new, but she was the exception. Man, I miss those days. A casualty of shrinking budgets and the recession.

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chrisn-585491 (9/12/2012)
I have a long list of projects that would make clients and coworkers more productive. It's buried under a list of production ToDo's that keep the company and clients operational. And that list is subservient to the whims of superiors, project managers and "top clients"....


Exactly, that's the reality at most IT shops today.:-D

"Technology is a weird thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other. ...:-D"
chrisn-585491
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Exactly, that's the reality at most IT shops today.


I'm going to try to work for one of these "creative" IT shops, but it'll be in another lifetime. By then I'll reincarnated as a higher being such as a pampered house cat. :-D
Miles Neale
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Excellent article, good result of trying this in some companies. If you can find a job where you can contribute more than just being told what to do, take it. If you are in a place where you could be creative but they will not let you, keep proving yourself and do not go negative. Contribute where you can and after a while, in some cases quite a while, they will seek you out and ask you to engage your creativeness to solve the problems yourself.

m.

Not all gray hairs are Dinosaurs!
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