Quotable Mumford
A collection of insightful & memorable offerings from the work of Dr. Mumford.

Home: Editorial
Key Learnings: Bridging Creativity and Systems Thinking
The Work: The Assessment and Development of High Level Talent
Book Review: Pathways to Outstanding Leadership
Book Review: Leadership 101


  Managing Creative People
Michael D. Mumford

Influence by the Numbers
Web of Science Top 10
Quotable Mumford
Mumford Propositions
Selected Bibliography


With rapid changes in technology, and global competition, the success of many organizations has become progressively more dependent on their ability to bring innovative products to market. Ultimately, however, innovations depends on the generation of creative, new ideas. Accordingly, the literature bearing on the nature of creativity is reviewed to identify the conditions that influence inovlation. Observations about the nature of creativity are used to draw conclusions about the kind of human resources management strategies that might enhance creativty. It is argued that orgainzations should consider multiple interventions that take into account the individual, the group, the organizations, and the strategic environment when selecting interventios intended to enhance creativty.

Summary of 34 Human Resources Propositions

The Individual

  1. Select for breadth and depth of expertise and skills in working with expertise
  2. Provide incentives for ongoing knowledge development.
  3. Define job expectations in terms of broad core duties.
  4. Allow discretion in structuring work activities.
  5. Periodically review work progress.
  6. Tailor performance objectives to creative elements of the work.
  7. Evaluate progress in work, not work outcomes.
  8. Provide a mix of rewards base on progress towards objectives.
  9. Collaboratively define work context.
  10. Provide training in defining work context.
  11. Provide procedures that maximize self-selection.
  12. Provide coherent development programs.

The Group

  1. Select leaders based on management skills as well as expertise.
  2. Provide managers with training in managing creative enterprises.
  3. Provide multiple career tracks for advancement.
  4. Orient work group planning around projects and project development.
  5. Allow individuals to develop and maintain a mix of projects.
  6. Use smaller exploratory projects as a basis for development.
  7. Encourage diversity in project assignments.
  8. Conduct climate surveys examining climate for creativity.
  9. Provide training in the nature and management of innovation.
  10. Provide team training focus on collaboration and innovation.
  11. Insure rewards and recognition are consistent with climate and collaboration requirements.

The Organization

  1. Develop rotation assignment programs.
  2. Help prepare staff to support development and implementation.
  3. Provide group interaction consulting.
  4. Provide training in strategic sales briefings.
  5. Implement policies that emphasize professional growth and development.
  6. Promote high performance workplace policies.
  7. Develop recruitment policies that emphasize growth and innovation.
  8. Conduct innovation audits.

The Environment

  1. Assess the implications of strategic changes for expertise requirements.
  2. Monitor workforce capabilities and expertise.
  3. Actively pursue strategic hires.

Mumford, M. D. (2000). Managing creative people: Strategies and tactics for innovation. [Article]. Human Resource Management Review, 10(3), 313.