Management Tip of the Day: Scarcity does not feed creativity

Thu Jun 16, 2011 11:45am EDT
 
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BOSTON (Reuters Life!) - Some managers like to keep projects starved of resources, in the belief that scarcity drives creative innovation. But that strategy can backfire, says Harvard Business Review.

The Management Tip of the Day offers quick, practical management tips and ideas from Harvard Business Review and HBR.org (http:\\www.hbr.org). Any opinions expressed are not endorsed by Reuters.

"Scarcity seems to have replaced necessity as the mother of invention in today's organizations. Far too many managers believe that depriving projects of resources will inspire innovation.

While that's true sometimes, you're better off using constraints rather than starvation. The human brain reacts to stimuli, so while a blank sheet can terrify, one or two constraints can stimulate.

Experiment with introducing a clearly defined problem and an urgent need. But, don't create false urgency by refusing to fund a project. The team you are asking to innovate shouldn't have to waste its creative energy scrambling to find resources."

-Today's management tip was adapted from "Necessity, not Scarcity, is the Mother of Invention" by Teresa Amabile and Steve Kramer.

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