Business success

Quoting several sources, including his own previously published works, author Tom Kelley exalts innovation as one of the pivotal success factors for any given business. As a means of fostering innovation, Kelley (2005, p. 6) insists on the importance of teams, blatantly stating that the “only real path to innovation is through people. You can’t really do it alone. ” Throughout his book, Kelley relays compositional descriptions of ten people-centric roles, the “Ten Faces of Innovation”, that, when filled, build effective teams, and thus in turn, lead to innovation and business success.

Three “faces” identified by Kelley that contribute most to team effectiveness are labelled the collaborator, the director, and the storyteller. According to Kelley (2005, p. 9), when combined these three personas are “savvy about the often counterintuitive process of how (teams) move ideas forward. ” Collaborators are the ties that bind when it comes to effective groups.

They are managers who, rather than employ a top-down approach, “lead from the middle”, opening up communication and levelling the field, encouraging interdependency, and develop identity-based trust among team members through mutual understanding and values (Connelly, Groups and Teams, 2007). When it comes to effective team composition, it is the director personas that assemble groups of talented people with a wide range of technical expertise problem-solving, and social skills (Connelly, Groups and Teams, 2007; Kelley, 2005).

Directors develop a context where team-based efforts are recognized, and catalyze performance with team rewards (Kelley, 2005). Storytellers are managers that excel in developing a relational psychological contract between team members. Storytellers set a medium for beliefs about the reciprocal obligations between group members that are viewed as the foundation of teammate relationships (Rousseau, 1995). Together, these three personas go a long way towards building effective teams.

In defining group member roles and describing team composition, one often discusses the impacts of group size or personality (Hackman &Vidmar, 1970), including relational demography, the degree to which team members are (dis)similar in their demographic attributes, (Tsui and O’Reilly, 1989). While recognized as influential compositional elements in teams, Tom Kelley purely stresses variations of ability as the key components in establishing the ten faces of innovation. Kelley parlays a utopian community of personas that when joined together form a perfectly performing party.

So complementary are the characters that one can hardly refrain from envisioning these ten faces at a boardroom table reciting to each other that memorable Oscar-winning film quote: “You complete me” (Crowe, 1996). Yet, a discerned reader may feel that such completeness is not in fact achieved with this cast of personas, and may argue that Kelley is ignoring an important element of successful teams – conflict. Many in management literature write that constructive conflict is important to team dynamics and success (Connelly, Creativity & Ethics, 2007), and is often embodied in an important eleventh player: the devil’s advocate.

This pervasive character focuses solely on what is wrong with ideas or proposals rather than finding or identifying suitable solutions leading to alternative opinions and viewpoints (Schweiger et. al. , 1986). By the author’s definition, the devil’s advocate is counterproductive to team success, too often employed with an impression management dimension of intimidation interwoven with “mean-spirited negativity” and teams are better offing “telling him to go to hell” (Kelley, 2005).

He writes that this persona that demotivates team members and leads to a form of social loafing, whereby individual efforts decrease when people work in groups rather than individually (George, 1992). Thus, Kelley establishes his ten personas as a means for teams to stifle their devil’s advocate to extinction. Although Kelley briefly mentions that he is not a proponent for complete and uniform buy-in, but endorses constructive criticism and free debate, his utter rejection, or ignorance of the devil’s advocate’s role in team building is contradictory.

Kelley’s blatant omission is opposite to the wide-held belief that “group conflict actually makes a team function with more of the razor’s edge it needs to be innovative” (Mannix & Neale, 2005), and is indeed part of the process enshrined in effective team performance. Many dialectical models of group development, including Tuckman’s Five-Stage Model Of Group Development (Tuckman, 1965), Tubbs’ Systems Model Of Group Development (Tubbs, 1995), and Fisher’s Decision Emergence Theory (Fisher, 1970), are contingent upon the presence of conflict.

Kelley would do well to invite the devil’s advocate to the boardroom table, at the very least to bring a highly critical eye an opinion to discussion. Job Attitudes Tom Kelley discusses job attitudes at multiple points throughout The Ten Faces of Innovation. Many employees at IDEO seem to have high affective organizational commitment, as defined by Meyer and Allen (1991, p. 67): “an employee’s emotional attachment to, identification with, and involvement with the organization. Employees with strong affective commitment continue employment with the organization because they want to do so.

” This is illustrated in the book by repeated mention IDEO employees treating each other like family as their jobs and the projects they work on have great personal meaning, and provide them with true satisfaction. The author, IDEO co-founder and many others mentioned have worked at IDEO for twenty years and are described as “happy” and “still enjoying their work. ” Kelley (2005, p. 82) discusses “boomerang staffers (who are) talented people who worked with us for a while, have gone out and gotten broad experience elsewhere in the business, and then come back.

” The employees are described as coming back just as committed and enthusiastic as if they took a break from the job, but never left the IDEO family. Affective commitment can be demonstrated by employees who feel like part of a family at work or would be happy to spend the rest of their career at the firm (Connelly, Job Attitudes, 2007). The behaviours observed of IDEO employees are excellent demonstrations of their affective organizational commitment. Another tool to build affective commitment is the use of effective leadership (Connelly, Job Attitudes, 2007). Tom Kelley (2005, p.

143) describes the CEO and founder of IDEO, David Kelley’s style as “contagious enthusiasm… he is really good at getting people to take intelligent chances and giving them the opportunity to recover from their failures. He’s inspired countless IDEOers. ” This is high praise for leader who without resorting to his potential use of legitimate power, “(his) ability to control others because of (his) formal position in a recognised hierarchy of an organization” (Connelly, Power, 2007), will quickly build affective commitment in employees as the standard innovation-crushing hierarchy of position is flattened.

Perceived organizational support (POS) can transform how the employee feels about the company. As described by Aselage & Eisenberger (2003, p. 492), organizational support theory “maintains that employees form a global belief concerning the extent to which the organization cares about them and values their contributions to the organization. ” In The Ten Faces of Innovation, we are regaled with stories employees being recognized by IDEO’s general manager for their outstanding individual contributions.

There is a positive correlation between POS and working conditions as noted by Aselage ; Eisenberger (2003, p.493) “such as developmental experiences allowing employees to expand their skills, autonomy in the manner in which jobs are carried out, and visibility to and recognition from upper-level management. ” At IDEO guest speakers are brought in weekly to allow employees to learn about a variety of subjects normally outside their current job requirements. Young IDEO employees are given plenty of freedom to apply their unique backgrounds while tackling projects. It is practices like these that ensure a high level of perceived organization support at IDEO.

Management’s understanding of the inevitability of some failures also contributes to perceived organizational support. As discussed under creativity, the innovation process at IDEO is designed to accept and celebrate failure, showing organization support, as a part of the learning process. Meyer and Allen (1996, p. 253) state that normative commitment refers to “commitment based on a sense of obligation to the organization. Employees with strong normative commitment remain because they feel they ought to do so. ”

As observed by Kelley (2005, p.2) IDEO relies “on a steady flow of fresh thinkers with eclectic experiences straight out of college. ” In addition, many of the young and long-time employees described in the book have backgrounds with Stanford University where IDEO has very close associations because founder David Kelley is a professor and director of the design school. Having worked for a prestigious, award winning firm such as IDEO makes a person highly sought after, it is highly likely that employees could receive extravagant pay packages by leaving for a different firm.

However, since many employees are given their big break straight out of college, they feel obligated to the firm, especially those Stanford graduates that were part of the design school directed by David Kelley. These perceived obligations are IDEO employee’s indication of normative commitment. The book also gives a sense of the level of job involvement at IDEO, embodied by the author. According to Brown (1996, p. 251) a job-involved employee “strongly endorses the work ethic and is high in both internal motivation and self-esteem…

considers work highly meaningful and challenging, works at complex tasks, uses a variety of skills, and is able to see complete units of work output through to completion. ” Evidence of Tom Kelley’s job involvement is scattered throughout the book as it endorses his commitment to innovation and his pride in the challenges he and his colleagues regularly overcome to complete a project. However, the job involvement of IDEO employees does not seem to reach the point of harm to their life outside work. As Kelley (2005, 13) states “[I am a] husband, father, brother, IDEOer, author, speaker, mentor, and Transformation team member.

Completely immersed in one of my business roles, I get an urgent phone call from my son, and I switch instantly into father role. ” While Kelley is very passionate about his job, he makes it clear that everyone has multiple roles to play simultaneously, and staying in the role of his job at inappropriate times “could damage (his) relationships or even (his) career. ” Although Kelley is passionate enough about his employer to write two books on his work place, he still has room for a personal life, showing how appropriate job involvement is at IDEO.