Because we all benefit when artists are able to pursue their passions.
What Gordon MacKenzie's boss knew

Gordon MacKenzie worked at Hallmark Cards for 30 years.  In his last ten years he did not have a job description or specific assignment.  His instructions were to contribute in any fashion he thought best.

There are many organizational questions that arise from MacKenzie’s role at Hallmark.  Who could afford such a luxury?  How did he know what to do?  How do you manage such a position?  The most important question is what did Gordon MacKenzie’s boss know?

MacKenzie’s boss promoted him to Creative Genius because he understood the value of a strong culture, the pressures of a high-performing company, and the challenges of nurturing creativity within an organization.  He understood that open communication is difficult in any hierarchy and large organizations are good at creating processes and systems, but weak at promoting the individual and right-brain thinking.  At Hallmark, innovation, creativity and unconventional ideas were essential in the overall success.

Gordon MacKenzie occupied an office within the organization, but he had the uncanny ability to radiate beyond the confines of the corporate walls.  When one entered Gordon’s sphere, they were free to soar and encouraged to tap into the world of ideas, concepts and abstractions.  Design Thinking provides a formula and process for nurturing such innovative thinking.

MacKenzie’s boss realized that the process of innovation is fragile.  He recognized the importance of someone thinking about the creative process and the challenge of not getting bogged down in the day to day “hairball” of organizational operations.  MacKenzie showed a unique ability to maintain a creative spirit, promote those creatives around him, and maintain a low orbit around the Giant Hairball that he describes as the organization.

It would be a mistake to think that only creative companies require innovative thinking.  Any organization that creates new products or services, who relies on new technologies and emerging markets must be innovators.  They require a thinking that is new, different and unencumbered by conventions.  For right-brain thinking to thrive in the predominately left-brain world of corporations, there must be an advocate, someone who sees the value, and protects the idiosyncrasies of innovation.  MacKenzie’s boss knew creativity required a different support system than financial incentives and organizational titles.  He knew he needed a creative supervisor, supported by top management, who could attend to nurturing and promoting opportunities within the organization.

 

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