Managing creative types...

There was an interesting article in this weeks Business Week about using the “Velvet Hammer” to manage creative people in an organization.

They say we’re “intellectually complex and emotionally delicate”.

As a manager of creative people I agree with most of what they say.

Yeah, it was a pretty good article but they really didn’t offer an advice, mostly just pointed out some truths.

But as GI Joe used to say: Knowing is half the battle.

Another great warrior once said:

“We sleep in the same bed, but dream different dreams.”

Sun Tzu

It’s condescending and reinforces the “us vs. them” mentality that it is offering advice on handling.

Or maybe i am just easily offended since i am such a delicate flower.

I don’t know. Its no different than the advice I got going the other way. “Managing the management” is a skill that is mandatory as a designer in a corporate environment. Understanding a bit of the stereotypical pointy haired boss thought process definitely aids in that.

It is never fun being on the pointy end of the stick when it comes to…essentially…someone trying to figure out how to tell you how to do your job.

I tend to agree with Bryan… It seems to assume that creative people need to be treated like toddlers “don’t scold them too much, but give them boundaries and structure to succeed and play nice with others” I did not like the tone of the piece at all.

The piece also assumes that a designer wouldn’t be in the position of managing designers… creative people aren’t just regulated to a basement R&D facility, they are in the board room.

Pull your heads out of your AXXXX

If you have done both it takes a different skill set for each discipline.

Often most companies promote great creative person to a supervisory role. Unfortunately the person fails filling the position.

We have all heard " I need to spent time with my family " reason for leaving a position. In most cases the person is competent, just not a good manager.

Seen it many times.

Missed the point.

Of course it takes different skill sets, no matter what your function is in a corporation. You might be an awesome accountant, get promoted to a head of finance position, and suck at managing those below you. Not being a good manager is not exclusive to designers.

No one claimed all talented designers would be great managers, the point was with the tone of the piece. I found it to be a bit derogatory toward “creatives”, needing the guidence of a 2 year old. On top of that, it assumed that one of those creatives would not be in a position to manage an interdisciplinary team.

I managed a combo r/d and d group, engineers, and designers and it was like herding cats in a rocking chair showroom. The designers would trot out stuff, the engineers would pull their hair out by the roots and that was a good day. The difference in cluture was pretty wide. Dealing with the "C"s was far eaiser, just as long as what was selected to be shown to them had a reasonable chance of being produceable at a profit, otherwise problems would arise. The problems were mostly marketing falling in love with some crazy thing that was effectivly hopeless to mfg, thus consuming a hell of a lot of time and resources chasing a boojum. In time after some seious team building (beer thursday, making all team members be part of the prototype build teams, sending both engineers and designers out to do in the face market reseach and record their interview. etc) I got them to work like a team, but still there were a few that just would not work togeather, ah well thats people.