The Challenge of Challenging Creatives
As economic conditions continue to sour and companies have to rationalize innovation efforts, leaders may think that motivating creative employees is an impossible task. But it doesn't have to be.
As economic conditions continue to sour and companies have to rationalize innovation efforts, leaders may think that motivating creative employees is an impossible task. But it doesn’t have to be if companies can creatively tap into their collective creativity.
Companies that encounter tough times naturally become more conservative. After all, it seems hard to tolerate out-of-the-box thinking when a company faces the prospect of downsizing due to sliding economic fortunes. Companies place premiums on getting things done and discount long-term efforts that look risky or unpredictable.
But sagging fortunes do not diminish the need for innovative thinking. Companies that play it too safe can end up in trouble down the road. Not only can more forward-thinking competitors create competitive advantage that takes years to counteract, the exodus of frustrated managers can leave a company without its most valuable assets when times turn healthy again.
Further, even the worst economic climate presents growth opportunities. The years between 1980 and 1982 featured America’s worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Intel hits its stride during that period, growing revenues from $400 million in 1979 to close to $900 million in 1983. Oracle and Home Depot were founded in 1979, right before the downturn. IBM legitimized the personal computer era when it launched its first PC in 1981.
So what can a company do to harness its creative talents in an economic downturn?