One of the most deleterious influences on the creative person is the naysayer. A person possessed by the need to be creative must eventually choose his/her companions wisely.  Naysayers are not usually bad people. They most often have your best interests at heart. But the impulse to give conservative counsel is irresistable by many well meaning folk.

For the creative person, the negative vibe is a type of noise that must be dealt with. In my own experience in business development, I have found that many people will choose risk avoidance as opposed to risk acceptance as the default condition. New ideas must be sold and every sale needs a value proposition.

Even sales people can participate in creative business.  Bringing in a new type of customer or entry to a new market segment can stimulate the creative juices at a company.  Business development people are by nature folk who are deeply tied into the technology capability at their company as well as the buzz in the market. Business development people often have two kids of sales activity- 1) sell the customer on capability, and 2) sell R&D and management on the new project with its long term possibilities. The customer may be the easiest sell of the two.

The customer must be able to take a value proposition back to management in order to make a reasoned buying decision. As a business development person, your job is to give an irresistable pitch to the prospective customer. Simultaneously, you have to pitch your own management as to the potential business the new project may bring.

It seems as though the impulse to say “No” when in doubt is hard wired into the brain. But it does serve a useful purpose by way of providing checks and balances to the decision to move forward.

Creative people are very interesting and very useful to have around. They can perform all sorts of technical services and can lead the charge to the next generation of products. But, they can lead the charge over a cliff as well. This is where skilled people management comes into play.  A good manager will ask for a value proposition for a new product, though it probably won’t be called that. They’ll ask for a business plan or a market survey or even an economic analysis. The idea is to put the onus of justification on the shoulders of those who propose to charge off into the battle.

The art of leading technical people is to herd them into the focal point of the value proposition. By combining a value-adding product to a pot of demand, you can produce a stream of profit.  Clever technical folk can invent new wonders all day every day. The trick is to lead them to do something that satisfies a current or a latent demand.

A good technology manager must manage the negative feedback, or naysayer input, that accompanies any group of people working on any project.  Most companies have talented but sour people who are good at finding fault or who practice negativism-by-wandering-around. Managers who can inspire loyalty to a project and to the company are called leaders. Sadly, in the real world, such people don’t always float to the top.  Often as not, project managers are ass-kickin’ SOB’s who made it to the top by merely surviving.

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