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The Power of Small Wins

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SPOTLIGHT ON PRODUCTIVITY

Spotlight

ARTWORK Artist Name, Artwork Name, year Description of materials, size Name of show if available, location

70 Harvard Business Review May 2011

PHOTOGRAPHY: JORDI PLAT; XAVIER VEILHAN/ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY, NEW YORK

HBR.ORG
ARTWORK Xavier Veilhan, The Big Mobile, 2004 Metallic structure, 25 spheres in PVC with diameters from 29.5" to 137.8" Exhibition View, 3rd Biennial of Contemporary Art of Valencia

The Power Of Small Wins
Want to truly engage your workers? Help them see their own progress. by Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer

SPOTLIGHT ON PRODUCTIVITY

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY to drive innovative work inside organizations? Important clues hide in the stories of world-renowned creators. It turns out that ordinary scientists, marketers, programmers, and other unsung knowledge workers, whose jobs require creative productivity every day, have more in common with famous innovators than most managers realize. The workday events that ignite their emotions, fuel their motivation, and trigger their perceptions are fundamentally the same. The Double Helix, James Watson’s 1968 memoir about discovering the structure of DNA, describes the roller coaster of emotions he and Francis Crick experienced through the progress and setbacks of the work that eventually earned them the Nobel Prize. After the excitement of their first attempt to build a DNA model, Watson and Crick noticed some serious flaws. According to Watson, “Our first minutes with the models…were not joyous.” Later that evening, “a shape began to emerge which brought back our spirits.” But when they showed their “breakthrough” to colleagues, they found that their model would not work. Dark days of doubt and ebbing motivation followed. When the duo finally had their bona fide breakthrough, and their colleagues found no fault with it, Watson wrote, “My...

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