There is No Metric for Creativity

The moment you try to capture creativity it’s lost. There are no activities to be measured. There are no intermediate products to be counted. There are no peer reviewed papers to be trumpeted. There are no metrics to be captured. Place a measure on creativity and people will creatively game your measure to their own benefit.

We do not forecast or measure creativity. We give it room to grow. We don’t get in its way with arbitrary rules, regulations and restrictions. We attract the best and the brightest and focus them on blockbuster+ pursuits. We focus their attention by making the blockbuster pursuit be to their own benefit. Don’t jump to the conclusion that this means money. Creativity often has its own reward: braggin’ rights.

We don’t undermine the creativity with goal oriented evaluations+. We instead set up a system that distinguishes tacking & turning from lack of direction. We set it up so the team being measured is their own worst critic. These internal motivations are far more compelling that anything we can impose from the outside. Often, mandates imposed from the outside instead act as salve to the conscience for not having lived up to one's own expectations: penalties come to be viewed as a penance for not having done a great job. Goal-oriented assessments instead are replaced by achievement-oriented assessments (a term that is less directionally constrained).

We set the scope in a way that unties the hands of the players. Teams can have no excuse at the end for having had to play with one hand tied behind their back. A blockbuster is a blockbuster. More on this topic is found here.

We don’t hamstring research by pre-defining important variables of the commercial equation+. We recognize that blockbuster products often end up far afield from the intentions when the research program was first started. It’s the same in business. Every undergraduate student of Entrepreneurship 101 knows that the original business plan is just a good excuse to get into the market and to find out what the customer really wants or needs. Tacking & turning are par for the course. We recognize that commercial operations+ and business strategies are always flexible enough to accommodate any new blockbuster product.

Imagination factories. Key to success in the blockbuster hunt is the imagination and passion of the researchers. We need to free up their thinking and unshackle their work. They should not be looking over their shoulders when doing good science, to paraphrase a quote from the 2006 pharmaceutical industry survey+. Do what it takes, within rather flexible ethical bounds, to get the blockbuster product to the market. Don’t be ruled by convention, convenience or comfort. If you come to the table with the accepted answer or solution, then you’ll never reach blockbuster status. World Class R&D is all about setting up the environment so it’s painful (emotionally) for individuals to become comfortable with their thinking.1


Home Page May 2010

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