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Be prepared: The work world has gone bonkers

Be prepared: The work world has gone bonkers
Creativity is In
-by- Angela V. Woodhull, Ph.D.

Zany! Stable times call for stable organizations. But the world has gone bonkers, and organizations that want to survive have to constantly change and continuously innovate.

That means that managers have to develop a new management style. Welcome to a world where imagination is a source of value. In an insane world, sane organizations make no sense. Barking orders is out. Curiosity, initiative, and imagination are in.

The idea is to keep generating new products if a company wants to survive. It used to be that only the clothing industry changed fashion every few months. Now everything is about fashion. There are designer phones, designer software, designer pretzels – even designer dairy products!

To survive, create! Use imagination! In 1979, the Sony Corporation created the Walkman. Since that time, they have produced 227 different models, or one every three weeks. In 1991 alone, there were 64 new varieties of spaghetti. Today, there are more than 350 spaghetti products. In 1981, there were 2,689 new products in grocery and drug stores. In 1981, 16,433 new products were introduced—about one every half hour. Today, there are more than 30,000 new product introductions in grocery and drug stores each year. [

The time between the 1978 Jonestown tragedy to its television movie was 513 days, while the movie on the 1993 Waco, Texas tragedy hit television screens in 34 days. Less than two months after Sandy Hook, a film was already in the making. [ ]

Today, your new laptop computer might be considered ancient when it’s just four months old.

Revenue is up in the travel services business from $40 million in 1983 to $1.5 billion in 1992 due to a new software hitting the market every month. Adding to steady growth since 2009, a recent study found that total travel agency revenue is expected to grow by 8.8 per cent to $19.5 billion. [

Production time is also speeding up. In Austin, Texas, where IBM manufactures personal computers, the manufacturing cycle from product idea to finished product used to be three years. By 1995, it was down to eight months. Today, it’s sometimes as little as three months. [ During the 1970’s the old IBM employed 1,100 workers. By the mid-1990’s, there were only 423 assembly workers. But by 2012, Fortune ranked IBM the No. 2 largest U.S. firm in terms of number of employees, the No. 4 largest in terms of market capitalization, the No. 9 most profitable, and the No. 19 largest firm in terms of revenue. In 2013, Booz and Company placed IBM sixteenth among the 20 most innovative companies in the world. The company spends 6% of its revenue ($6.3 billion) in research and development.
The sign of the times is “Down with materials and up with intellect and imagination.” Example: During the mid-1990’s, Phillip Morris purchased Kraft for $12.9 billion. You say “That’s a lot of cheese,” but nay. Only $1.3 billion was the material stuff. The other $11.6 billion was “buying” the employees -- the intellect and brainpower they promise to share in devising new products. Today, there are hundreds of new dairy products developed each year. []

And so, here’s the new question for today’s managers: “How do you manage human intellect and imagination?” The answer is that you don’t. And that’s why a lot of thriving innovating companies are cutting out mid-management. The multiple layers of workers in large organizations have been eliminated.
Instead, companies are dealing directly with the customers. “Let the employees make decisions.”

So, how do you cope with all the change? You’ve got to acknowledge that hiding from change is counterproductive. You’ve got to change the way you look at things. Flexibility is your greatest tool. Recent studies indicate that the workers and managers who are surviving best are the ones who are most flexible. What businesses are discovering is that when a company becomes too large, it also becomes impersonal and inefficient. That means you can’t have an organization where everybody tries to think alike. The new zany world requires workers who are different. Different, quirky people didn’t do well in stable times. Stable people don’t do well in crazy times. Those companies that are surviving are continuously reinventing themselves.

Respect and reward the most creative people in an organization. “Creative individuals,” says Consultant Tom Peters, “thrive best when left alone to be different, creative, and disobedient.”
“If you want to serve the customer with uniform Excellence, then you must FIRST effectively and faithfully serve those who serve the customer—i.e., your employees, via maximizing tools and professional development.”

Of course, many things will go wrong when creativity is the norm, Peters warns. But if nothing ever goes wrong, then nothing new will ever happen again.

Is your company prepared for a world that’s “gone bonkers?”

Angela V. Woodhull, Ph.D. is a corporate and government communication consultant and trainer, and a licensed private investigator. She is the author of The New Time Manager, Private Investigation Strategies and Techniques, Police Communication in Traffic Stops, and Coping With Difficult Teachers. Dr. Woodhull can be reached at (352) 327-3665, (352) 219-6994 or via e-mail:

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