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Book synthesis

How to inspire the will to learn and advance

What does it mean when you are told to “develop the creativity of your teams”? Is it not more accurate to speak in terms of ingenuity, because what you really need is resourceful team members? Pragmatic and agile individuals who, when faced with novel situations, can take the initiative, test out ideas and experiment – even if it involves “screwing up” – before ultimately making headway and contributing to your collective performance.

Back in 2008 in Gainesville, Florida, Kristen Hadeed started a makeshift and largely un- planned home-cleaning company. She hired primarily students, hence her company’s name: Student Maid. Only 20 at the time, Hadeed was immediately hooked by the rewards of running her own company. A decade of trial and error followed, with Hadeed self-avowedly making continual mistakes and adjustments as she grew Student Maid into a successful business. Her company became known in particular for the autonomy and quick-thinking of its teams in an industry renowned for the unrewarding nature of the work.
A culture of resourcefulness and ingenuity like Student Maid’s is not the exclusive domain of small businesses. According to Kegan and Lahey, it is also found at Bridgewater Associates, a global investment fund, and Decurion, a California-based multiplex operator. These are two examples of what the Kegan and Lahey, the authors of An Everyone Culture, call “deliberately developmental organizations” (DDOs): firrms that encourage their workers to test themselves – and their limits in their search for inventive solutions. The ingenuity recipe contains 4 crucial ingredients.


Excerpt from Business Digest N°284, March 2018

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Caroline Schuurman
Published by Caroline Schuurman