Managing People and Creativity in Product Leader Organizations

Organizations that are product leaders do things differently. Be it the way they market the product, the way they build the value proposition to their customers or managing the internal environment and culture they practice innovative methods that gives them the edge to be the leaders.

Managing innovation calls for nurturing a pool of highly creative and best skilled human resource. Companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, Sony, Intel and others know the importance of investing into and managing highly creative performance oriented teams. Hiring talented people is not sufficient.

Managing creativity, managing the individual aspirations as well as aligning individuals to teams and further facilitating several teams to deliver one project calls for superior HR management practices.

A project like building Pentium Chip at Intel involves several teams comprising of over a hundred and odd engineers and scientists. The challenges that the Organization faces in managing the people are several.

Taking into account the fact that Intel’s product development is managed as projects, the Organization has chosen to go with a Flexible Organization structure where in the talented and best suited resources are assigned tasks that deliver the highest value in a project.

Re-Organizing and shuffling of people from one project to another and dismantling of teams and redeployment of resources after the closure of a project are very common. Talented resources are always given challenges where they are able to perform exceedingly well and add value to the Organization or to the Customers.

Transferring and re-locating human resource at the end of a project or during a project which is common with Intel has its own challenges to deal with.

People and Creativity

Individuals at all levels including managers in a project tend to settle down and identify with the team structure and the prospect of suddenly moving to another project can be quite a challenge for everyone.

It is not only the familiarity that the people feel uncomfortable about, but quite a few feel uncomfortable having to leave a project that is perhaps in its final stages or is completed to move on to a new project where they are likely to feel a sense of uncertainty and loss of identity. At Intel we are talking of a couple of hundred engineers being re-deployed at any point of time.

HR management at Intel is able to manage the continual change as a part of the normal culture and manage transitions very smoothly. Coaching and training as well as giving the employees umpteen opportunities and alternatives to perform and excel defines the inside culture. The emphasis is laid on one identity of belonging to Intel the Organization and not to any project.

Intel does not give much importance to grades and titles. In case any Manager or a team member is not able to prove his performance in any position, he or she is not shown the door, but re-located to a lesser or a more suitable task with lesser grades or levels giving them time to perform and build their confidence. Once they start showing performance, moving them back to their former positions is also possible.

Thus the entire Organization is fluid and flexible to accept demotions, accept frequent change of projects at all levels. The internal culture is highly motivating and positive that the people look at these practices as opportunities to test their mettle and use the uncertainties as building block to better their skills and attempt to outperform themselves.

When the organization is able to hold together, bond and provide a nurturing environment to their teams, creativity thrives and innovation comes naturally to the entire Organization.

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