The Progress Principle

Teresa Amabile

Creativity, Productivity, and the Psychology of Everyday Work Life

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Diary #2: Managers as ObstaclesSeptember 04, 2011

In our first featured diary, we looked at a boss who supported his team by championing its project. This kept the work on track, so that team members could continue to make progress – benefitting the organization and themselves. But, unfortunately, leader behavior like this was rare in the 12,000 diaries we collected. All too often, we saw management that actually got in the way. Here are diaries from one week in the life of Alvin, a forty-seven-year-old senior product engineer. In the first, Alvin has just received a new rush job from R&D, but is not provided with the information he needs to succeed.

The V.P. of R&D gave me a crisis new product idea that our customer wants now. The Marketing Manager does not echo his view. No information defining the product, potential sales, pricing issues, etc. are being discussed -- To satisfy the V.P. I'll have to invent a marketing plan to help define the product in order to proceed with design and engineering that will answer our customer and end user needs.