Australia: Managing the creative genius in an ideas boom era

Services: Intellectual Property & Technology, People & Workplace
Industry Focus: Life Sciences & Healthcare

What you need to know

  • The Federal Government's push for Australia to become an 'Innovation Nation' includes a strong call to action for businesses in the life sciences and healthcare sectors, with clear emphasis being placed upon the importance of attracting and fostering great talent in science and technology.
  • The question is, how can this best be achieved? It is unlikely to be through traditional 'people strategies' that are driven by risk and compliance or the tightening of reins, particularly with the rise of a new generation of workers with different ideas about how they want to work.
  • We explain why 'flexible management' is the key to success, and also share brief insights on how it can be done without exposing the company to undue legal risk and and with an eye on protecting the valuable intellectual property produced by the 'creative genius' being flexibly managed.

The increasing mobility of people, changing patterns of work and the rising influence of millennials are radically impacting organisational culture and structure. To keep pace, people strategies are being challenged more than ever before as organisations are compelled to foster and empower innovation and creativity in the workplace while simultaneously managing increasing legal risks and compliance costs. This challenge has always been prominent in the life sciences and healthcare sectors, where the 'creative genius' can be and often is a key ingredient to the success of an organisation.

When Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the Federal Government's National Innovation and Science Agenda in December 2015, he introduced the concept of an 'ideas boom' and declared "unlike a mining boom, it is a boom that can continue forever, it is limited only by our imagination". It therefore comes as no surprise that a key focus of the Agenda is an investment in people and talent.

In this regard, the Federal Government proposes to commit significant funds to initiatives aimed at:

  • encouraging women to embark on and remain in careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)
  • inspiring a 'nation of scientists' from those of pre-school age to the broader community to engage with STEM and to participate in STEM study, and
  • attracting people with entrepreneurial talent and skills from around the world to Australia with the introduction of an Entrepreneur Visa.

The Federal Government's emphasis on an 'ideas boom', accompanied by the Agenda's focus on people and talent, crystallises the need for organisations operating in the life sciences and healthcare sectors to embrace innovative people solutions. From start-up medical technology companies striving to get off the ground, to well-established pharmaceutical organisations undertaking research and development, all will need to adapt in order to fully seize the opportunities presented by this rapidly evolving era of business – and to avoid being left behind.

Out with the old

Traditional people strategies focus on addressing and minimising legal risks, but they often fail to give managers the flexibility necessary to engage and manage the 'creative genius' in a way that positively harnesses their strengths and enables them to thrive with their work.

Taking performance management procedures as an illustration, we can see the way in which people strategies can either inhibit or promote the 'creative genius'.

Organisations commonly adopt performance management frameworks which impose a prescriptive step-by-step procedure when managing under-performing employees – a procedure which is often premised on the rule of 'three strikes, and you're out'. These frameworks have generally been accompanied by formal year-end performance reviews requiring managers to evaluate employee performance in accordance with prescribed performance indicators, which are often a 'one size fits all' set of requirements that remain the same from year to year, despite changes in an organisation's strategy, culture and operating environment.

There is no doubt that these prescriptive performance management processes are risk and compliance driven, particularly intended to minimise the organisation's exposure around the increasing myriad of legal claims available to employees, including workers compensation, bullying, general protections and unfair dismissal claims. In addition to the legal risks and compliance costs faced by an organisation, HR managers and decision makers can be held personally culpable if an organisation breaches its legal obligations resulting in exposure to civil penalties and reputational damage.

In with the new    

These types of traditional approaches will need to give way to new alternatives if businesses want a fair shot at attracting and retaining good people.

It would be somewhat extreme to advocate the complete removal of all organisational rules, policies and procedures, catering to the individual above all else. Instead, the key to managing the 'creative genius' is to retain sufficient flexibility in those rules, policies and procedures. The solution is not 'no management', but 'flexible management' that enables managers to adopt an individual approach while maintaining compliance standards. For example, flexible performance management processes based on ongoing feedback, continuous development and a focus on managing to strengths, not weaknesses, can inspire the 'creative genius' while nevertheless maintaining checks and balances to minimise risks and ensure compliance.

Deloitte's Global Human Capital Trends 2015 survey reveals that organisations can achieve the shift from a prescriptive to a flexible performance management process through:

  • change management strategies to transform cultural perceptions around performance management, gravitating from an emphasis on top-down evaluation to continuous development
  • training for managers to equip them with the skills necessary to embrace and adapt to change, and to effectively coach and evaluate the 'creative genius', and
  • giving managers the authority to recognise and reward employee performance throughout the course of the year, which will reinforce the shift toward a culture of continuous improvement.

For the 'creative genius' to thrive, organisations need to implement a strategy and culture which is supportive and encourages creativity and risk-taking instead of a culture with an emphasis on disciplinary action for non-compliance with rules, policies or procedures.

Protecting the intellectual output from the 'creative genius'

In evaluating how best to implement innovative people strategies that allow the 'creative genius' to flourish, it is critical to also think about how that person's creative output will be managed.

As the success of a business in the life sciences sector often turns on the intellectual efforts of those involved in research and development, the importance of capturing, protecting and extracting value from the 'creative genius' cannot be understated. This requires a comprehensive intellectual property (IP) strategy which is aligned with the organisation's business goals. An IP strategy should span from the recruiting stage until after the 'creative genius' has departed the organisation.

Key components of an effective IP strategy include:

  • employment contracts (with detailed job descriptions, provisions dealing with IP ownership and moral rights, and obligations to assist with filing of patents and other registered rights, both during and after employment)
  • clear and well-understood policies regarding disclosure and use of IP (of the organisation as well as third parties)
  • commercialisation strategies (including any benefit sharing with inventors and creators), branding and trade mark use guidelines, and enforcement of IP rights.

Flexibility – the key to success

How an organisation encourages and supports the 'creative genius' will necessarily vary depending on the individual and the organisation, and will evolve with the organisation's strategy and culture. Some of the innovative strategies that organisations are already introducing to create a work environment that is conducive to creativity and innovation include:

  • flexible hours, patterns and places of work
  • unique remuneration structures
  • bespoke (not 'one-size-fits-all') learning and development initiatives.

The key to successfully finding the right balance between flexible and innovative people strategies, managing legal risks and protecting intellectual output is ensuring that the culture, values and leadership of the organisation are strong. Where an organisation is strong in these areas, compliance will always be better and the organisation will have the freedom to loosen the reins and give the 'creative genius' the flexibility they need to create and innovate.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Libby Radjenovic
 
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.