Richard Florida is author of the global best-sellers, The Rise of the Creative Class and Who’s Your City? A more recent book, book, The Great Reset, explains how new ways of living and working will drive post-crash prosperity. Other works include The Flight of the Creative Class and Cities and the Creative Class. His previous books, especially The Breakthrough Illusion and Beyond Mass Production, paved the way for his provocative looks at how creativity is revolutionizing the global economy.
Richard is senior editor for The Atlantic and a regular CNN contributor. He has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Economist, The Globe and Mail and The Harvard Business Review. He has been featured as an expert on MSNBC, BBC, NPR and CBS, to name just a few. Richard is Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute and Professor of Business and Creativity at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. Previously, Florida held professorships at George Mason University and Carnegie Mellon University and taught as a visiting professor at Harvard and MIT. Florida earned his Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and his Ph.D. from Columbia University. His research provides unique, data-driven insight into the social, economic and demographic factors that drive the 21st century world economy.
His latest book is The Rise of the Creative Class, Revisited: 10th Anniversary Edition–Revised and Expanded, published by Basic Books (June, 2012).
Here is an excerpt from my second interview of him.
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Morris: To what extent is The Rise of the Creative Class, Revisited a sequel? To what extent does it plow entirely new ground?
Florida: A great deal of the book has been rewritten or rearranged—this is not so much a revision as a full-blown revisiting of the original book. My team and I brought all the statistics up to date, provided new ones, and incorporated a decade’s worth of new research. I took advantage of the opportunity to address my major critics, too. Finally, there are five completely original chapters, covering the global effects of the Creative Class, quality of place in our cities and suburbs, the widening—and increasingly damaging—role of class and inequality in society, and the political challenges and opportunities that the rise of the creative class represents.
Morris: Were there any head-snapping revelations while writing the book? Please explain.
Florida: One big insight is the worsening inequality and underlying class divide that plagues not just nations but cities and metro areas. You can see it in US cities and metros and also in London and even in Toronto where I now live. That said, the rise of the creative class and post-industrialism needn’t exacerbate wage and income inequality. In fact, the wages and salaries for working and service class members are higher in metros with greater concentrations of the creative class. Interestingly enough, the US is something of an outlier when it comes to post-industrialism and inequality across the advanced nations. In many of them, especially in Scandinavia and North Europe, post-industrialism and the rise of the creative economy has been accompanied by higher living standards and far less inequality that in the US. In the revised edition, I look in detail at inequality across US metros. I find that the class divide accounts for about 15 percent of income inequality, a significant amount for sure, but more is at work. Income inequality across US metros has a lot to do with entrenched poverty, race, weakened labor unions, and an unraveling safety net than it is the result of the Creative Class’s relative prosperity. The solution, in other words, isn’t to roll the Creative Class back—it’s to lift up the classes that aren’t doing as well.
Morris: To what extent (if any) does the book in final form differ significantly from what you originally envisioned?
Florida: Books always turn out different than expected. When I started the idea was to update the data (which was ten years old) and revise and update the existing chapters. But that’s where my research and thinking took me. I certainly did not expect to write five entirely new chapters The whole issue of the creative class going global and the need to include more data and information on the creative class around the world; and also widening inequality and the growing class divide – those are things that needed to be treated in detail. The last chapter – “Every Single Human Being is Creative”— discusses the need for a new Creative Compact based on harnessing the creativity and talent of every single human being. We are at such a critical turning point: our society is changing as fundamentally as it has since the shift from agriculture to manufacturing. The old industrial order of relentless production and consumerism, of brute growth, has proven itself unsustainable; it’s left us with a degraded environment, a broken financial system, and a sclerotic political culture. We have an incredible opportunity to remake ourselves in a better way—for maybe the first time ever, to align human and economic development. But to do that, we need to create new institutions that will both help to develop and utilize everyone’s innate creativity. It won’t happen by itself, and no Invisible Hand is going to guide it.
The University of Chicago economist Raghu Rajan said it well: “The advanced countries have a choice. They can act as if all is well except that their consumers are in a funk, and that ‘animal spirits’ must be revived through stimulus. Or they can treat the crisis as a wake-up call to fix all that has been papered over in the last few decades.” I’m trying to sound that wake up call.
Morris: Please explain the reference to “the key underlying forces that have been transforming our economy and culture” for several decades.
Florida: Our economy is shifting from an industrial to a post-industrial basis—our most valuable products are no longer the natural resources we scour out of the ground, or the durable goods that we manufacture in factories but the things that spring from our creativity: software, movies, medicines, applications. Human beings have always been creative, of course, but now creativity itself—“the ability to create meaningful new forms,” as Webster’s Dictionary has it—is what powers our economy.
As creativity has become more fundamental, it’s given rise to a whole new social class that works in creative fields (the sciences, education, medicine, technology, media, the arts). Many of them have embraced a new ethos and a new set of meritocratic norms that in turn have shifted our whole society.
If anything Creativity is an even more powerfully transformative force than it was a decade ago. The Creative Class has come through the last decade—and through the economic crash of 2008—stronger and more influential than ever.
Morris: In your opinion, why have we not as yet unleashed “that great reservoir of overlooked and underutilized human potential”?
Florida: If a third of our most fortunate workers belong to the Creative Class, the other two great classes are not faring anywhere near as well. The working class, our blue collar sector, has lost a third of its members in just the last decade—it represents just 20 percent of the workforce today, about the same share that farmers held at the turn of the last century (they are less than one percent of the economy today). About half of the workforce belongs to the Service Class—the people who serve our food, cut our lawns and our fingernails, take care of our elderly. Most of them are paid terribly and there are very few opportunities for advancement.
Class and geography have a huge impact on your destiny in the US—if your parents don’t have good jobs and good educations and you live in a state that has a smaller Creative Class share, the odds are that you’ll be poorer, travel less, and receive a worse education than your peers in more creative states. That’s not snobbery or elitism—that’s just statistics. Poorer states have shorter life expectancies too—there is more smoking and obesity, more gun violence, and worse health outcomes across the board.
This is why I’m so passionate about the need for change—for a new Creative Compact, as I put it, that will do for our own epoch what the New Deal did for its own generation.
Morris: What are the defining characteristics of the Creative Class?
Florida: I define the Creative Class by what people do—by the kinds of jobs they hold. What I call the Super-Creative Core of the Creative Class are scientists and engineers, university professors, poets and novelists, artists, entertainers, actors, designers, and architects, as well as the thought leadership of modern society: nonfiction writers, editors, cultural figures, think-tank researchers, analysts, and other opinion shapers. I define the highest order of creative work as the production of new forms or designs that are readily transferable and widely useful—such as designing a consumer product, coming up with a theorem or strategy that can be applied in many situations, or composing music that can be performed again and again.
The Creative Class doesn’t just solve problems—it finds problems that we didn’t know we had. It invents the iPod and then it figures out a better way to organize its music library—and to combine it with a telephone, and an e-book reader while giving its battery longer life.
Beyond this core group, the Creative Class also includes “creative professionals” who work in a wide range of knowledge-intensive industries, such as high-tech, financial services, the legal and health professions, and business management, who engage in creative problem solving. Creative Class people are smart and skilled; they’re often (but not always) highly educated. Three quarters of degree holders belong to the Creative Class, but less than 60 percent of the Creative Class has degrees.
I talk a lot about “creatifying” jobs that are not considered Creative Class, but could be, such as retail sales. With the addition of creativity such jobs can become more productive and earn higher and higher salaries. Services can be creatified too, as their providers become more entrepreneurial.
Richard cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:
To read the complete second interview, please click here.
To read my first interview of him, please click here.
To read my review of his latest book, The Rise of the Creative Class, Revisited: 10th Anniversary Edition, please click here.
Here is an article written by Anthony M. Gigliott for Talent Management magazine. To check out all the resources and sign up for a free subscription to the TM and/or Chief Learning Officer magazines published by MedfiaTec, please click here.
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Sometimes the same strengths that support a leader’s successes can turn into professional liabilities. Here’s how to make sure that doesn’t happen in your organization.
Many of us exercise to improve our strength and overall health, but there’s a break-even point. When we over-exercise, we no longer become stronger; instead, we strain our muscles, incur pain and actually decrease our performance. The same can occur with over-exercising our strengths: Performance could decrease after reaching a break-even point.
Consider the characteristics of the following three leaders:
• Mary, a director of volunteer services, is a warm and giving team player.
• Jack, a sales manager, asserts his independence and self-reliance to produce outstanding sales results.
• Donna, a nursing coordinator, is a passionate advocate for her profession.
It appears that any of these individuals would be a valuable contributor to the team, but the same strengths that support their successes can also act against them and turn into a professional liability.
• Mary’s desire to help becomes intrusive when she involves herself in other people’s work without being asked.
• Jack disregards teamwork and often will follow his own agenda, instead of seeking input and fostering collaboration among his colleagues.
• Donna is narrowly focused on her own profession and alienates colleagues from other functional areas, such as finance and human resources.
We can see from these examples that over-exercised strengths can decrease performance effectiveness. But addressing these situations constructively in the workplace is delicate. On one hand, leaders need to be able to build, grow and flex their strengths to achieve personal satisfaction and professional success. On the other hand, they also need to discern when over-exercising their strengths will decelerate their professional momentum and impede their overall success.
How can talent managers effectively support leaders in changing their approach while still maintaining confidence in their own strengths?
[Here are two of a] few simple coaching techniques can help strike the right balance:
Focus on how the strength has contributed to the leader’s success. Ask the leader to describe the strength. When does he or she normally exert it? How has it contributed to his or her success? In which situations does the strength have the most positive impact? How do others react to this strength? What are the outcomes after flexing the strength? After assessing the leader’s perspectives, consider sharing your own observations of when the strength was demonstrated appropriately and effectively.
Focus on when the strength has detracted from the leader’s success. Ask the leader to describe a time when exerting the strength did not produce the intended results. What was the circumstance? Who was involved? What was his or her response? What was the ultimate outcome? After engaging the leader in dialogue, talent managers can consider sharing their own observations of when the strength was demonstrated without achieving intended or desirable results.
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To read the complete article, please click here.
Anthony M. Gigliotti is an HR professional with more than 15 years of experience primarily within the health care industry, and has served as guest lecturer at several universities, including Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.
Here is a brief article featured by Executive Women’s Networking Blog, sponsored by EpsteinBeckerGreen, in which Frances M. Green discusses someespecially interesting revelations provided in a recent MIT study. I also located a link the study. Please click here. To check out all the EWN resources and sign up for email alerts, please click here.
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Some new and interesting research by Anita Woolley (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Thomas Malone (email@example.com) has been cited in June’s Harvard Business Review. Woolley is an Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior and Theory at Carnegie Mellon University, and Malone is the Patrick J. McGovern Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the founding Director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence.
Their research of team behavior and problem solving makes an interesting business case for gender diversity, concluding that “there’s little correlation between a group’s collective intelligence and the IQs of its individual members. But if a group includes more women, its collective intelligence rises.” Thus, where strategic business decisions are being made at a group or team level, the inclusion of women spikes the quotient of intelligence, making a positive difference in decision-making outcomes. As Malone states, “The standard argument is that diversity is good and you should have both men and women in a group. But so far, the data show, the more women, the better.” Indeed, research shows teams with more women tended to fall above the average of the collective intelligence scores of the teams studied by Malone and Woolley; the teams populated by men were below average in the same regard.
It’s a no-brainer! If you want smarter boards of directors, corporate committees, or strategic business teams, Woolley and Malone’s research supports increasing the participation of women.
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Frances M. Green is a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment practice in the firm’s New York office, and is co-head of the firm’s nationwide Women’s Initiative. Fran’s experience includes advising management of multinational and domestic corporations on all aspects of employment law, and litigating on behalf of multinational corporations in federal and state courts and before the New York and various regional securities exchanges in all aspects of employment related litigation, including employment discrimination, sexual harassment, and wrongful discharge. She also lectures frequently to corporate executives throughout the United States and overseas. Please click here for Fran’s full biography.
Saj-nicole Joni is president and CEO of the Cambridge International Group, Ltd. As well as an internationally known business strategist and Third Opinion adviser to senior executives and high-potential leaders, providing insight into high-stakes issues at the intersection of strategy, action and complexity. She is a leading pioneer of Third Opinion counsel and has championed its place in the halls of corporate power. The impact of her work is to enable her clients to successfully lead their organizations and tackle risk, identify and capitalize more effectively on important revenue and market opportunities, and make better decisions around complexities that yield sustained financial performance. Joni’s clients include a cadre of C-level executives at the Global 200 firms, including category leaders in such sectors as finance, technology, software, information, professional services, telecommunications, oil and gas, pharmaceutical and media companies. She also works with CEOs of smaller, more entrepreneurial companies. Joni is a former Microsoft and CSC Index executive with several prestigious board memberships.
She is the author of The Third Opinion: How Successful Leaders Use Outside Insight to Create Superior Results and, more recently, of The Right Fight: How Great Leaders Use Healthy Conflict to Drive Performance, Innovation, and Value. She has also authored articles for a variety of publications and has served on the faculties of MIT, Carnegie Mellon University and Wellesley College for more than ten years. Joni earned her Ph.D. at the University of California at San Diego.
Morris: Before focusing on two of your books, a few general questions. First, when and why did you found Cambridge International Group, in 1997?
Joni: I founded the firm so that I could serve as a confidential adviser to CEOs who need a sparring partner when they are confronting their thorniest questions and toughest problems. To me, this is a way of giving back, helping them to raise their game. The kind of work that I do is very different than services provided to CEOs by other experts, such as professional coaches, communications specialists, or experts in M&A or supply chains. In most cases, a CEO can avail him or herself of many different kinds of experts, but it’s hard to find a business executive and strategist who will help them wrestle with the most difficult issues of leading a company. Another person who does this kind of specialized work is Ram Charan, who has worked with people like Larry Bossidy and Jack Welch.
Morris: To what extent (if any) has your mission since changed?
Joni: Oh, the mission has not changed at all! I have done this for so many years now, and my commitment to the work just continues to grow. There is such a huge need out there. It’s quite lonely at the top!
Morris: In The Opposable Mind, Roger Martin discusses what he characterizes as “integrative thinking,” perhaps best exemplified by Abraham Lincoln as portrayed by Doris Kearns Goodwin in Team of Rivals. That is, Lincoln possessed “the predisposition and the capacity to hold two [or more] diametrically opposed ideas” in his head and then “without panicking or simply settling for one alternative or the other,” was able to “produce a synthesis that is superior to either opposing idea.” Throughout his presidency, Lincoln frequently demonstrated integrative thinking, a “discipline of consideration and synthesis [that] is the hallmark of exceptional businesses [as well as of democratic governments] and those who lead them.” Here’s my question: Isn’t this the mindset that one must have to appreciate the value of what you characterize as “the third opinion”?
Joni: Yes, of course. It’s the mindset any good leader must cultivate if he or she wants to lead their company to greatness. And it’s a particularly important mindset to have in these increasingly complex times.
The challenge for most leaders is in learning to think integratively. Most top businesspeople aren’t born with this skill, so it helps them to be well partnered with a great team of rivals, or people like Professors Charan, Martin or, me who can introduce them to alternative ways of thinking. When a leader is able to make good use of a third opinion by a qualified outsider, he or she develops “muscles” that can be used to apply this kind of skill in a practical way. And beyond that, the leader can push integrative thinking down into the organization, so that the next generation of leaders also raises its game.
Jeffrey Pfeffer is the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University where he has taught since 1979. He is the author or co-author of thirteen books including The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First, Managing with Power: Politics and Influence in Organizations, The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge Into Action, Hidden Value: How Great Companies Achieve Extraordinary Results with Ordinary People, Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-Based Management, and What Were They Thinking? Unconventional Wisdom About Management, a collection of 27 essays about management topics, as well as more than 120 articles and book chapters. His latest book, Power: Why Some People Have It — and Others Don’t, was published by HarperCollins (September, 2010).
Pfeffer received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Carnegie-Mellon University and his Ph.D. from Stanford. He began his career at the business school at the University of Illinois and then taught at the University of California, Berkeley. Pfeffer has been a visiting professor at the Harvard Business School, Singapore Management University, London Business School, and a frequent visitor at IESE in Barcelona. Pfeffer has presented seminars in 34 countries throughout the world as well as doing consulting and providing executive education for numerous companies, associations, and universities in the United States. Moreover, he has won the Richard I. Irwin Award presented by the Academy of Management for scholarly contributions to management and numerous awards for articles and books.
Morris: Before discussing a few of your earlier books and then your latest, Power, a few general questions. First, so much has happened in the global business world during the last 3-5 years. In your opinion, what has been the single most significant change? How so?
Pfeffer: The single most significant change has been the globalization of labor markets. Product markets–trade in goods–have been globalizing for years. But now, with the reduction in communication expenses and the building of all sorts of IT infrastructure, essentially any job can be done almost anywhere. One of the fastest growing sectors in the Indian outsourcing industry is the outsourcing of (at the moment routine) legal work. Newswriting, the reading of digital X-rays and other digital diagnostic tests, research and development, clinical trials for pharmaceuticals–all have been increasingly placed in a global marketplace in which people are, and have to, competing with talented, and lower wage, individuals from all over the world.
The effect of this has been to seriously erode working conditions for many people in the advanced industrialized countries, particularly in the United States. As many people know, our job market problems began long before the latest recession. We have faced literally decades with no substantive increase in median wages, and job growth, except in health and government jobs such as education, has been stagnant for a while. People are now expected to travel more and to work at odd hours to coordinate with people all over the world. Simply put, companies have prospered, but for the most part, people have not.
Morris: As you know, even the most prestigious business schools such as Stanford, Harvard, Kellogg at Northwestern, Ross at Michigan, and Wharton at Pennsylvania have been severely attacked in recent years. In your opinion, which single area does there seem to be the greatest need for improvement and what specifically do you recommend?
Pfeffer: As Harvard Business School professor Rakesh Khurana has so persuasively argued [click here], there needs to be a “professionalization” project in management. Professionals are committed to evidence-based practice, continuous learning and education, and working in the best interests of their clients and not being overly aggressive in their pursuit of self-interest. This is not what we tend to see in business schools. The degree is an “entry ticket” and the amount of critical thinking and mastery of the material that occurs is, in general, too low. As one student once told me, “this isn’t medicine. No one is going to die if we screw up.” But of course that isn’t completely true–the evidence is quite clear that layoffs, the result of mismanagement in some cases, actually do kill people.
Business school graduates from the best schools earn large salaries and frequently rise to positions of great power. It would be nice if they used that power to truly make the world a better place–which entails more than just maximizing their own organization’s profits and their own economic well-being.
There is a movement to have people sign ethical “oaths” which is well-intentioned but not likely to do much. We need to reexamine and reassess the purpose of the corporation, and go back to the idea that senior leadership has responsibilities not just to shareholders but also to customers and employees. In this regard, the Aspen Institute’s values surveys are instructive and informative.
How to make this change is beyond my “pay grade.” The issue is in part a collective action problem–it would be tough for one school, on its own, to chart a completely different course.
Morris: Here’s a hypothetical situation. You have been invited to spend a weekend at Camp David meeting one-on-one with President Obama. Just the two of you. He has asked you to come prepared to evaluate his performance thus far and then share whatever recommendations you may have with regard to what should be his highest priorities as a leader and manager, going forward. What would be your response?
Pfeffer: I would give Obama a “C.” He gets an “A” for understanding this country’s profound problems in education, health care, infrastructure, and economic competitiveness, and for surrounding himself with extremely skilled and knowledgeable people who know what to do. He probably gets an “F,” ironically, in his ability to sell these ideas to the American public and to be angry enough, conniving enough, and frankly mean enough to get them implemented and understood.
We now live in an era of the permanent campaign–all marketing and messaging all the time. We clearly live in an era where the “truth” doesn’t matter much–people tell lies about things ranging from the likelihood of “death panels” to the effects of the stimulus on saving this economy from a true calamity. In such a context, Obama himself needs to be “selling” all the time, as does his team, and also be more forceful in advocating their views. He needs to project that he and his ideas will win. And I don’t think he has yet done that.
Morris: Here’s a question I have been wanting to ask you for years. When I began to read your earliest book, Managing with Power (1992), my initial reaction was that your insights and assertions are counterintuitive. Then it dawned on me that, instead, you were challenging convention wisdom. And I think you have continued to do that in every other book you have written since then. Is that an accurate assessment?
Pfeffer: Yes. That’s because conventional wisdom is often wrong. And that’s because few people bother to actually consult the social science research that actually helps us understand human behavior. To paraphrase the late management thinker and writer, Peter Drucker, thinking is hard work, which is why so few people (including actually senior managers) do it. Once there is some “conventional,” seemingly-reasonable story, people just accept it and don’t ask, “is this actually true? Is it consistent with the data?” And this extends to the highest reaches of organizational life.