Jamming: the Art and Discipline of Business Creativity

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9780002556200: Jamming: the Art and Discipline of Business Creativity

A detailed introduction to the field of corporate creativity analyzes the vocabulary and grammar of creativity, explaining how to develop an environment to nurture creativity, how to stimulate it, and how to use it to enhance a company. 75,000 first printing. $50,000 ad/promo. Tour.

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What value does your company put on creativity? It's not just media and high-tech companies that have to invest in the creative minds of their employees: every organization must make creativity a top priority in order to last beyond the next reporting period. In Jamming, John Kao shows how high-performance companies have learned the lessons of creativity to leap ahead of obsolete competitors. They have learned to make creativity tangible and actionable, they practice a new managerial mindset, and they have learned to leverage information technology to enhance creative collaboration. From clearing the obstacles to organizational creativity to conducting a "creativity audit" that assesses the current value of your company's creativity, Jamming shows business leaders, managers, and entrepreneurs how to take their companies to an entirely new level of success and growth by fostering an environment that will anticipate tomorrow's needs.

From the Publisher:

THE BUSINESS WEEK BESTSELLER, NOW IN PAPERBACK... JAMMING: CORPORATE JAZZ SESSIONS FOR THE CREATIVE AGE

From America's renascent rust belt to the heart of Silicon Valley, from Tokyo to Sao Paolo, companies that are moving forward today share one important characteristic: they thrive on creativity. While the traditional pursuit of new capital, raw materials, and more efficient technologies continues, the competitive advantage belongs to businesses that recognize the value of imagination, inspiration, ingenuity, and initiative.

In Jamming: The Art and Discipline of Business Creativity (HarperBusiness; May 7, 1997; paperback), John Kao uses the metaphor of the jazz musicians' jam session-the lively, unpredictable blending of structure and improvisation-to describe how any company can foster, manage, and reap the benefits of creativity. He pinpoints those factors-from the explosion of sophisticated new technologies to the increasing pressure on companies to reinvent themselves rapidly-that make creativity management essential. This is the first book to view business creativity as a managerial system, not as mere idea generation. It presents a practical methodology for auditing a company's creative capabilities and translating the findings into a plan of action.

Arguing that fresh notes are rarely heard in companies that have been playing the same tune for years, Kao cites some off-beat ways to encourage employees to clear their minds, refocus their attention, and listen for new sounds to emerge. The Chairman of Coca-Cola, for example, provokes his employees to new ways of thinking by giving speeches that mock Coke's cherished corporate culture; Global Business Network conjures up newspaper headlines from the future to stimulate alternative thinking among its corporate clients; and Andersen Consulting depends on a team of hackers to learn what's happening on the frontiers of computer technology.

Changing the actual physical environment of the workplace, Kao reminds readers, also sends new signals to employees. The one-room office of First Virtual Corporation (which searches out cutting-edge technology for clients) both reflects and perpetuates founder Ralph Ungerman's business philosophy:

There are no secrets in an open room. Since the purpose here is the leveraging of ideas, it is impossible for me-or anyone-not to have an instant grasp of what's going on in everybody's area. When a customer calls to say he's discovered a problem with a product, every single person in this company is involved within a few minutes.

An organization free of hierarchies, systems, and procedures that smother spontaneity has worked wonders at companies like Oticon, which eliminated job descriptions and encourages people to do not only what they trained for but what interests them; 3M, where internal trade shows expose different departments to one another's brainstorms and innovations; and AlliedSignal, which took the suggestion of two frontline factory workers seriously, redesigned its factory in Arizona, increased productivity, and saved millions of dollars.

Behind every business breakthrough, Kao points out, is a manager (or management team) willing to stretch, improvise, and create what no artist or techie can: a supportive atmosphere that integrates beliefs and goals, culture and strategy, performance and rewards. Kao reveals the tools and techniques that make up the creative manager's repertoire, from crafting a coherent challenge within the context of a company's goals to expediting the creative process by providing the necessary financial and technical support.

Kao explains how to maintain and renew the creative well-spring of a company through smart personnel management and recruiting. And he explores the power of the newest instrument in the corporate jam session, information technology. Like a great jazz club that never closes, cyberspace resonates with the interplay of ideas twenty-four hours a day, drawing together geographically dispersed players of every level of expertise and igniting a medley alive with spontaneous themes and variations.

The competitive/cooperative meritocracy developing on the Internet, coupled with creative management within individual corporations, Kao believes, marks the beginning of the age of creativity in business. For a small cover charge, managers who want to make themselves heard in the future will get all the tools and the inspiration they need in Jamming.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

John Kao has taught business creativity at the Harvard Business School and Stanford University. He is the author of Managing Creativity and The Entrepreneur. He is the founder of several companies in biotechnology, feature films, and interactive multimedia. Kao recently directed, produced and wrote a feature film based on Jamming. A jazz pianist in his spare time, he lives in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.

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