Creative Malcontents: Straight Talk About “Talkers” and “Doers”

Busy executives understand time management. Experience tells them creative malcontents are time wasters.

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Posted: 08/13/2017

It's often said: People confuse good management with a good idea that makes management look good.

What's not said is: It takes a special kind of management and organizational structure to put a good idea into action.

A management that has the know-how, energy, fearlessness, and staying power to implement genuinely good ideas that are consistent with the mission and purpose of the business.

Take two wannabe book authors. One tells you about a great idea for a book, but never seems to marshal up the energy to actually write the book.

The other has the same idea and writes the book, which subsequently becomes a bestseller.

You could easily say that the second author is a creative genius. But could you say the same thing about the first author?

We hope not. At best, the first would-be author is a dreamer and persuasive talker. But not a doer. Good intentions should never be confused with accomplishment.

Too often we mistake the idea for a great book with the great book itself. We mistake brilliant talk for actual doing. Big difference!

Our Point?

Talk is a good intention. Nothing more. Ideas are not good enough. Ideas are not deeds. Above all, ideas need people who are doers, not talkers. 

Organizations need people who can take a good idea and systematically follow through with detailed plans and proposals for their implementation, or even with some suggestions of the risks, costs, talent requisites, time budgets, and possible payouts.

It should be mentioned—indeed, emphasized—that senior management must take responsibility for establishing within the operating organization entirely separate centers of initiative especially created for producing and managing innovation of more than trivial dimension. (This will be the subject of future articles).                                       

The Talkers

Let's examine the "talkers" in more detail. They think of themselves as idea people.

They complain about the stand-pat senility or massive inertia of the organization.

They complain about management’s refusal to implement their ideas. They complain, complain, complain.

Said Peter F. Drucker: “The assertion that 'somebody else will not let me do anything' should always be suspected as a cover-up for inertia.” Sound familiar?

To slightly paraphrase Harvard's Ted Levitt:

Organizations need people willing to assume responsibility for implementation rather than people who 'live dangerously' by thinking their job is finished after they suggest an idea; that it is up to somebody else to work out the nitty-gritty details of implementation...

To risk any responsibility for implementation is to risk failure. The safe solution is to steer clear of implementation and all the hard work it implies.

Do You Ignore Them? 

Creative malcontents have a way of getting under your skin. They become annoying with their “gottaminute” greeting. 

Busy executives understand time management. Experience tells them creative malcontents are time wasters.

Yet many on the lecture circuit make a handsome living advocating with missionary zeal the need for creativity in business and other institutions.

From our perspective, in many cases (not all!), people in the advice business fail to realize original ideas require more than talk.

True innovation requires understanding: 

1. What innovation really means. 

2. The dynamics of innovation.

3. How to formulate innovative strategies, objectives, goals, budgets, and measurements.

4. The role of senior-level management in making innovation happen. 

5. Why innovation needs to be organized separately and outside the ongoing managerial business.

In the months to come, we will provide you with the thinking, knowledge, and skills required to convert good ideas into operating reality. Stay tuned!


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Posted: 08/13/2017