I have worked for over 15 years in the technology sector and consider myself a student of idea maturation and innovation. Mainly in terms of fostering teams to create innovative approaches to problem solving. While creating a company culture that is conducive to improving upon and generating new ideas.
Some of my more recent experiences in the last few years have encouraged me to sit down and write this post regarding the things I have seen that “management” does to hinder innovation and adversely impact company moral unintentionally (of course).
Negative traditional management actions:
- Lack of communication
- Leaving the “troops” out of decision making
- Creating a wall between management and workers
- Walling off project by stake holder (producer/manager)
- Pigeon holing
One of the main things I have noticed is the lack of general communication with the teams that actually do the work. You have management communicating with other management. But at the same time leaving the developers or other workers in the dark as to even the most simple knowledge in regards to the business and how well (or poorly) it is doing. I have spoken with many people who have no clue how a product is doing because they are not told. So they may make the wrong assumption and be looking for another gig when where they are is actually doing well.
I was reading an article on BBC about Kelly Sutton of CultofLess.com and it got me to thinking about the potential for a new sub-culture in the US and rest of the world. Basically it is a movement (if you can call it that yet) of mainly 20-somethings relinquishing the vast majority of their posessions and living with as little as possible as long as they have their laptops and other digital goodies. Depending on friends and family to provide a place to sleep in some instances. This may yet be another symptom of steps toward what many call Technological Singularity in the sense that a new subset of people following this digital living and minimalism of possessions are becoming more popular. Now there are Hacker Spaces, imagine a day soon where there will be “Hacker Flop Houses” or “Hacker Hostels”. Even work could be transformed for this subset of people in terms of things already occurring. With the ability to telecommute or work on Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs) that services like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, Crowd Flower, or others could allow people to live an almost digital hobo existence bedding down in hacker flop houses and moving on to another place whenever they choose. With no physical address these people could also become hired digital guns if they chose to follow a less reputable path. Using public Internet access to do their deeds and be gone to another town by the time anyone notices. Almost sounds like something from a William Gibson book but the groundwork for this sort of thing is already in place in many instances. Roving gangs of black hats working to do the deeds of the highest bidder. Sounds pretty scary to me. Although that is just an example of what might happen. Most people as in the original article I read are honest working people who are following a route less taken, which I can understand and support. It would also be a very effective way to save money if you lack the overhead of a place to live.
Update 09212010 – Found an interesting write up on what is now being referred to as Technomads on BoingBoing.