Do Factors Underlying Desire To Work From Home Herald An Increase In Creativity?

Back in 2009 I wrote about a TED talk Dan Pink did on motivation. In particular, he discussed how monetary rewards was successful at motivating people in mechanical tasks, but when it came to problem solving and creative solutions, in many cases the greater the reward, the longer it took people to solve a problem.

At the time I wrote:

This may explain why arts people are able to create in the absence of monetary reward.

I wouldn’t let this get around lest people insist that paying you more may rob you of your creativity.

Pink says the new operating model should be based on:

“Autonomy- Urge to Direct Our Own Lives
Mastery- Desire to get better and better at something that matters, and
Purpose- The Yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.”

It seems like these concepts are beginning to increasingly manifest themselves as people start to consider work from home as an option and seek to embrace greater degrees of autonomy, mastery and purpose in their lives.

Pursuit of Low Overhead Ratio Is Starving Cultural Org Of Success

For a long time now pursuit of a low overhead ratio has been viewed as a benchmark of good governance in the non-profit sector. There have been arguments against that view, but the perception doggedly persists. Recent research specifically focused on arts and cultural non-profits indicates that these organizations actually need to be spending between 30-35% of their budget on overhead in order to be successful.

I wrote a post for ArtsHacker on the topic recently highlighting this:

As we explained in the academic journal Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, we found that when arts nonprofits devoted 35% of their budget to overhead, they fared best in terms of attendance.

Attendance declined, by contrast, for organizations that spent extremely low and high amounts of their budget on overhead. Groups that spent far too little saw their attendance decline by 9%. Attendance for arts groups that spent way too much on overhead fell by 30%.

While there spending too much is definitely detrimental to attendance, a sizeable portion of non-profit cultural organizations are expending far below what is beneficial.

Hop over to the Arts Hacker post to get more detail about why pursuit of a low overhead ratio sends cultural organizations into a downward spiral as well as why the researchers insist there shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all rule of thumb about expense ratios.

You Probably Need To Be Spending More On Overhead

Actual Recognition That Return To Office Shouldn’t Be Return To Usual

Yesterday Daniel Pink made the following Twitter post about OKRs – Objectives & Key Results (because apparently KPIs – Key Performance Indicators, needed to be replaced with another equally meaningless acronym?) and he suggested some NO-KRs which have plagued work culture to jettison.

Pink provided a link to a website summarizing the Charter Workplace Summit. This was the first time I have seen signs corporate employer making constructive attempts to revise the office work environment and move beyond threats or cheap perk ploys to get people to return to the office.

Some of the things that caught my attention:

Workers should be re-onboarded. “We’ve been spending all this energy on onboarding new employees in a unique and special way,” said Daisy Auger-Domínguez, chief people officer at Vice Media Group and author of Inclusion Revolution. “We need to do the same thing for our current employees.” She sees that as a way to remind colleagues why it’s important to come to the office.

Talk about what’s not working. “We owe it to our people to get really specific about where we’re growing, where we’re shrinking, where we think we have the most risk,” said Francine Katsoudas, Cisco’s chief people, policy, and purpose officer. “In doing so, we give our people a lot more power as well.” Providing transparency about a business’s challenges is also a way to enlist colleagues in navigating an economic downturn, said Kieran Luke, chief operating officer at Lunchbox. “We want everyone to see and understand, empathize, and take a sense of ownership.”

Audit your attention. “The scarcest resource that we have is not money and it is not time. It is attention,” said Didier Elzinga, CEO of Culture Amp. Organizations need to assess what they’re asking their leaders, managers, and individual employees to focus attention on amid numerous priorities. “We can actually sit down and look at it and give ourselves almost a budget,” he advised. “How are we going to prioritize the things we need [a company’s staff] to focus on?”

I particularly liked the idea of re-onboarding, especially if people have been working from home for any length of time because the shift back to the office is pretty much going to be akin to starting a new job in a new place mentally, emotionally, physically and relationship wise. In addition, the time and attention paid to new hires makes you feel special. I am sure a lot of us have resented seeing special offers advertised for new subscribers to a service, but no benefit given for 10 years of loyalty. I have recently seen people complain online about being denied the $2/hr bump in salary being advertised for new hires when they obviously had more experience and wouldn’t require a learning curve. It makes people feel their loyalty is taken for granted.

I also liked the concept that these days attention is a scarcer resource than time and money and that there needs to be clear communication across the organization about what priorities should receive the most attention.  We have all seen the posters wearily asking which of the 10 top priorities is actually the super-secret extra top priority the boss want you to focus on first.

What I was really surprised to see included in the list was the recognition that workplaces being a social environment, there is opportunity for tension. There seemed to be an acknowledgement not only that this may present a problem for people returning from a work from home setting, but that perhaps more could have been done to train people for that reality over the last few decades:

Practice real-life scenarios such as uncomfortable conversations. “We often give people an opportunity to expand their role and become managers without actually giving them the experiences that they need to practice the craft,” said Edith Cooper, co-founder of Medley. One way to do that is to create spaces, such as group coaching environments, where they can practice having difficult conversations without being judged or dismissed.


Physical offices are a place for conflict. “Conflict, disagreement, the brainstorm, the row, the ‘I’m sorry, we’re not on the same page here’” are important to spend time together with colleagues for, said Julia Hobsbawm, author of The Nowhere Office. In-person work—whether it’s in an office, coffee shop, or other location—is also important for training, mentoring, and social connections between people. “To hang out, to learn, or to argue,” is what in-person work time should be for, concludes Hobsbawm.


Interviewing Post Covid: How Do You Want To Do It?

Last week Barry Hessenius sent me a link to a Buzzfeed article listing answers to job interview questions, suggesting it might make a good blog post. This suggestion was well-timed because Drew McManus had also posed a question on LinkedIn about whether cover letters were useful any more, spurring a spirited conversation among arts professionals on that topic.

Between the two, there is a lot to think about in terms of how we interview, both as employers and potential candidates.  For example, in the LinkedIn discussion, Tyler Rand mentioned his company inviting people to introduce themselves by choosing from a number of formats including letters, email, personal statements, videos and showing their suitability for the position through either resumes, work samples, links to websites or LinkedIn profiles.

The Buzzfeed piece claims the list contains clever answers to tough job questions. While there are some suggestions like describing yourself in the context of your Hogwarts house and how to navigate the dreaded “what are your weaknesses” and uncomfortable salary questions, many of the tips mentioned are smart responses to typical interview questions rather than a matter of clever maneuvering.

For example asking

“What’s the biggest pain point in the company/office/on your team, and what could I do to address it if I started tomorrow?”

Can be useful in uncovering issues about the work environment that hadn’t come out during the interview, possibly revealing an organizational culture that doesn’t suit you.


“When they ask if you have any questions, ask what current/past employees in this role find the most rewarding and challenging about the position. If there are red flags, you’ll get them here. It’s basically asking the interviewer what the job’s strengths and weaknesses are but more effective.”

I have been asked a number of times what my plan for my first 90 days on the job will be, but it never occurred to me to turn it around and ask the obvious:

‘What are your 30/60/90 day goals for the role?’

I have asked what the goals for the new person might be and how my skillset might be applicable toward fulfilling them, but the X days horizon can give you a sense of top priorities and allow you to judge whether they are realistically attainable in that time period.

Anyone have any additional thoughts on obvious, but seldom asked questions or processes they feel are antiquated?  Are there ways you would rather interview, both as an employer or candidate, but feel stuck in a framework of expectations?  I suspect there are questions some candidates would love to ask but there is a fear of appearing too presumptuous to the prospective employer.