While taking this course, I also read Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock. As Senior Vice President of People Operations, Bock develops creative approaches for improving life at Google -- determining financial incentives for top performers, reducing food waste in cafeterias, and standardizing hiring interviews, for example. Each approach is piloted in small teams or offices, and the results are thoroughly measured through interviews with employees and applicable data. Many approaches fail, sometimes spectacularly, but those with the greatest impact on employee happiness and productivity are implemented throughout Google.
IDEO and Bock share a fundamentally similar outlook on leading and problem-solving, and after completing the course and book, I feel energized to approach my professional development with new insights. Here are a few:
- Don't assume you know the solution. Design, test, measure, and repeat.
- Expanding on that thought, I once believed that strong leaders were born with the right answers, and they could conjure up an innovative solution simply by brainstorming hard enough. Instead, strong leaders ask smart questions, are receptive to feedback, experiment (or in Silicon Valley's preferred terminology -- fail), and bounce back from mistakes with resilience and grace.
- Creative people are highly observant. Creativity comes from noticing relationships between seemingly disparate topics, and from applying novel approaches to existing areas. For this reason, creativity often emerges from multidisciplinary people, such as a web designer with an understanding of social psychology.
- Look to the margins -- a top-selling employee, or a family with healthy children despite living in extreme poverty -- to find the variables that determine positive outcomes.
- To gain creative confidence, you must stop self-editing. (This is a tough one for me!) Everyone has terrible ideas, but if you remain silent out of fear of failing, you will never grow.
Next up, I'm taking the Digital Analytics for Marketing Professionals course on Coursera. I'm also looking forward to a user experience course from UC San Diego, and will continue to explore the world of information-communication technology for disaster response.