Creative talent behaves differently

(Originally posted on LinkedIn, on April 12th, 2016)

I am an avid reader of everything Breaking Smart produces. Led by Venkatesh Rao, former A16Z's Philosopher in Residence, it is an attempt to find underlying threads to everything that is happening in this new digital economy. Though the approach is obviously what one could get from a philosopher working at a really huge venture capital company, it nevertheless plants some good seeds for thought.
I don't read the newsletters they send in any particular order, as I move them directly to Pocket as soon as I get them, and then browse them at night whenever I have time. In one of the latest messages, Management is Mostly an Impossible Problem, one statement made me reflect on this.

When work increasingly is about creative people finding roles where they can be engaged and generative, exit-prevention based management (detention over retention) is disastrous

Startups, like “normal” companies, are managed this way. That's why we have clauses that force founders to stay in the company for X years if they don't want to lose all equity. Or why we offer stock options to employees that may make them millionaires, but only if they stay a certain number of years. It's a detention-based approach. And it definitely makes sense, from a missionary vs mercenary standpoint, as the article goes: we are more afraid of people wanting to leave than of not offering the best possible environment during the time that creative person WANTS to be with us. We believe only missionaries are going to help us.
When working in a truly creative economy, there are going to be many good reasons why creative people working in highly creative environments and happy to be there, still need to find new ones. If we are not able to understand this, then we will still base our roots in the Industrial Age.
This is changing, of course, and there are already many companies that understand that having great minds around may mean some of them will fly soon looking for other ideas to grow. And I guess it's natural to ask why a key asset of a growing company is leaving. But part of the equation is also how this may bring new opportunities for everyone.
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