The smart creative

When we contrast the traditional knowledge worker with the engineers and other talented people who have surrounded us at Google over the past decade-plus, we see that our Google peers represent a quite different type of employee:

• They are not confined to specific tasks.
• They are not limited in their access to the company’s information and computing power.
• They are not averse to taking risks, nor are they punished or held back in any way when those risky initiatives fail.
• They are not hemmed in by role definitions or organizational structures; in fact they are encouraged to exercise their own ideas.
• They don’t keep quiet when they disagree with something.
• They get bored easily and shift jobs a lot.
• They are multidimensional, usually combining technical depth with business savvy and creative flair.
• In other words, they are not knowledge workers, at least not in the traditional sense. They are e new kind of animal, a type we call a “smart creative”, and they are the key to achieving success in the Internet Century.

The primary objective of any business today must be to increase the speed of the product development process and the quality of its output. Since the industrial revolution, operating processes have been biased toward lowering risk and avoiding mistakes. These processes, and the overall management approach from which they were derived, result in environments that stifle smart creatives. Now, though, the defining characteristic of today’s successful companies is the ability to continually deliver great products. And the only way to do that is to attract smart creatives and create an environment where they can succeed at scale.


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