Harvard Business Review's "7 Rules for Managing Creative People" - A Rebuttal
I thought about doing an in-depth sentence-by-sentence analysis of the article, but since that would take me half the week to write and I surely don't have time for that, instead here are my three core complaints about the Harvard Business Review's "7 Rules for Managing Creative People."
1. "Creatives" is one of the worst words in the English language
This might seem like nitpicking, but I think using the word "creative" as a noun for a person who does creative work creates an issue of clarity that cuts the legs out from the whole article. It's confusing and argument-destroying because, what exactly is a "creative?" A graphic designer? A copywriter? A salesperson? All of these professions do creative work, and all of them are going to have psychological traits specific to their group that separate them from the others. They're going to think about the world in different ways, have different wants, needs and skills that will make it difficult to pin down their behavior with any kind of granularity.
For what the author is attempting in the post, a guide to managing creatives based on tightly specific behavior patterns, it would have benefited him to be more specific as to what kind of creative he was talking about. Writers, painters, marketers, even "artists" would have been better. Once you pull back to the level of "a person who does creative work," the descriptor has gotten broad and vague enough to essentially lose all meaning. Most companies are going to have employees who have to do creative work now and again, be they ad writers or accountants, so using creativity as a differentiator is complicated and not really helpful. Is "creative" an all-or-nothing label, and if so, how creative does someone have to be to earn it? Do they have to be designing T-shirts all day, or just ¾ of the day? Half? What kind of work do they have to be doing? Does it have to be art, or can it be something like computer programming? Sales? Management?