Even the Giants Can Learn to Think Small [NY Times] talks about how smaller teams are more agile and creative. The message: Keep teams small, give employees freedom and a sense of ownership, don’t focus too much on the competition, create a culture of experimentation, and use technology to enable remote teams.
By breaking huge business units into smaller, nimbler teams, companies stand a chance of rekindling the creative spark that got them rolling in the first place. After all, “small is the new big,” as Seth Godin, a prolific blogger and author, puts it in his 2006 book of that name.
It is a point of view shared by a diverse group of business leaders, management consultants and information technology experts. According to Philip Rosedale, founder and chairman of Linden Lab, the company that created and operates the virtual world of Second Life, companies seeking to foster creativity must find ways to break apart the bureaucratic hierarchies now smothering it. Optimizing a company for creativity involves helping individual employees of every rank develop an entrepreneurial spirit. In Mr. Rosedale’s view, the most creative work environment is one where every employee, regardless of job title, has enough freedom to develop that sense of personal initiative.
“Most companies erroneously focus on competition and on differentiation from their competitors,” he contends. “The business opportunity lies in turning creativity into productivity.”
Decentralizing the hierarchy opens the door to creativity, giving workers the leeway they need to make significant decisions without first jumping through executive management hoops. “The idea,” he says, “is to enable a creative environment where there’s a good degree of experimentation.”
Optimizing a company for creativity also optimizes it for small-group collaboration. And that opens the door to new information technology that lets team members work cooperatively from anywhere on the planet. “That’s the revolution that’s making all of this possible,” Mr. Rosedale says.
It’s great to see these ideas picking up steam and getting out there in the mainstream press.