What Jurassic Park Can Teach Us About Leadership & Creativity

Okay, be honest. When you think of the Jurassic Park movies, do you think of the larger-than-life special effects and thrilling dinosaur chase scenes? Or do you think of its poignant lessons in leadership and creativity? If it’s the latter, you can stop reading (also: seriously?). For the rest of us, let’s delve into this a bit further.

If you can look past the pseudo-science and wonderful, timeless one-liners, you’ll see that the original Jurassic Park actually has a lot to teach us about what business leaders need to do to create an engaging environment that empowers their teams to generate and implement creative ideas. I know, right?!

The benefits bar has been raised

First we need to understand something about how our work landscape has changed. The increasing demand for 21st century skills is causing once non-traditional benefits and work environments to become a baseline requirement. Flexible work schedules, Ping-Pong tables, and competitive pay are often part of the standard benefit package these days. The side effect of all this is that employees now use an entirely different set of criteria to decide where to apply their talents; criteria driven by their own passions and a desire to add meaning and purpose to their careers.

The question is, how do you help your employees create meaningful connections with the work that they do? The challenge becomes even more critical when you consider that once this connection is present, employees are not only more engaged, but the quality of their work can improve as well. Luckily, Jurassic Park is here to help.

Three conditions for creative idea generation

Psychologists and business experts have spent years studying the conditions that contribute to stronger engagement and more creative idea generation. A 2013 article in the Journal of Computers and Human Behavior outlined three necessary conditions to motivate teams and encourage creative idea generation:

We see each of these conditions clearly represented in Jurassic Park. John Hammond isn’t just an eccentric venture capitalist with a wild idea for an amusement park. He’s also a strategic project lead with a clear vision, and he’s assembled a team of “creative experts” to help him realize that vision (Alan and Laura Grant are the archeologists that he hoped would endorse the park before its grand opening). He offers his team the baseline financial compensation they need to join (by promising to fund the next three years of their research), and he then proceeds to create an environment ripe with all three of these necessary conditions for creativity.

1. Access to new information

First, John made sure that his team had access to all the information they needed to do their jobs. The project begins with a video describing how the dinosaurs were brought back from the dead, and a tour of the laboratory where they learn about the technology behind the park. They have the chance to ask questions and begin to understand the new world they will be working in.

How this applies to you: Creativity relies on having a bank of knowledge and experiences that you use to form connections between two seemingly unrelated things. When new information is added to your collection, you have more material to make connections and generate ideas. That’s why every design project begins with research and exploration, and every marketing campaign begins with market analysis. The foundation of any creative and engaging workplace is having a constant stream of new and diverse information to stimulate innovative thinking. The new information doesn’t always have to be directly related to the project, either. Often, the best ideas happen when something totally unrelated helps you see the problem in a new way.

2. Positive engagement in the workplace

Next, Hammond knew that to create an engaging work environment, you need autonomy, interaction with others, and open feedback. The next phase of the tour was a ride around the park. Hammond sat back and let his team go out on their own (autonomy); they were split up into small jeeps where they were forced to interact with each other (even when Dr. Grant would have rather sat alone), and the two-way radios made it possible for constant communication and feedback—that is, until the T-Rex got loose and ruined everything.

How this applies to you: Engagement can be a strong influencer of creative ideas. Research has shown that individuals who are fully engaged in their work are not only more curious but also more willing to take risks and experiment—all of which can facilitate creative ideas. While you likely do not have electric jeeps lying around to send your team on safari (please let us know if you do in the comments), you should look for ways to give your team space and the ability to explore their own ideas, opportunities to interact with one another to share ideas, and create a consistent flow of feedback throughout the entire project.

3. Support

Lastly, all team members need to be supported to hit their optimal creative idea output. Support can come from anywhere, not just from management. In Jurassic Park, when things got out of hand, we saw the characters providing support all over the place, like when Dr. Grant distracts the T-Rex away from an overturned Jeep or when John reads the control room blue prints to Laura over the phone so she can reset the power to the park. Without these people coming together to support each other, they wouldn’t have made it off the island.

How this applies to you: Support is important to give your employees the confidence they need to follow through on ideas and take risks when trying to come up with new ones. Support can also come in the form of providing resources or the expertise needed to see an idea get implemented. Your company should look for ways to help your employees be comfortable taking risks by making them feel supported in the work that they are doing.

In the end, the park was a failure but not due to John’s leadership. His team was set up to reach the best possible solution: get the hell off the island.

Individually, these conditions offer a frame of reference for thinking about your own team or business. Together, they can be the foundation of an organizational philosophy that creates a more productive, more creative workplace.

Use the comments section to share some of the ways you create these conditions at your company.

Filed under creativity, future-of-work.

Your Hidden Bias Against Creative Ideas

Ideas are the currency of the 21st century. We rely on out-of-the-box thinking to keep our competitive advantage, bring in new business, and solve complex challenges every day. But we’ve all experienced a situation where others failed to see the value in our new idea at first. Or maybe we’ve been the ones to dismiss an idea we didn’t understand. According to creativity guru David Burkus, this immediate rejection of innovative ideas happens more than we might realize—and probably more than it should.

Innovative ideas naturally invite judgment and criticism. In his article, Why Great Ideas Get Rejected, Burkus argues that when it comes to innovation, “the world’s most common reaction is to beat down the idea or, perhaps worse, ignore it.” Think back to the last time someone pitched you a new idea. Were you skeptical?

You’re not alone. There are several iconic examples throughout history where people flat out rejected new ideas, only to later be seen as brilliant innovations. For example, the debut performance of Igor Stravisky’s The Rite of Spring was met with boos from the audience that quickly escalated into riots. Riots! At the ballet! Today, it is revered as an influential piece in music history, but at the time the nontraditional music and unnatural dancing was unlike anything the audience had seen, so they rejected it.

Kodak is another example of how rejecting innovation can have negative consequences. Their research lab had been sitting on the technology for the digital camera as early as 1975, but executives wanted nothing to do with it. They thought the market’s desire for high-resolution photographs was evidence that people would always prefer film. Sony released their version of the digital camera in 1981 and usurped the future of digital photography.

By definition, innovative ideas introduce concepts that are both original and functional. However, research shows that when we are presented with a new idea, we subconsciously struggle to recognize originality and functionality at the same time. This creates an unintended bias against creative ideas that, as history has shown, can lead to rejection, riot and bankruptcy.

In 2012, a team of researchers studied individual perceptions of creative ideas when uncertainty was present. They used something called the Implicit Association Test, which determines if a person has a positive or negative association with creative and practical terms. They introduced uncertainty by splitting the participants into two groups and promising one group that some of them would be selected to receive additional payment from a random lottery drawing after the study.

The researchers compared the results of the Implicit Association Test towards explicit feelings about creativity to see if people behaved the way they said they would. The group that was given no chance at extra compensation (the “certain” group), showed a positive association with creativity, both implicitly and explicitly. The uncertainty group, however, “said they valued creative ideas, [but] when faced with a choice between a creative or a practical phrase on the implicit test, they tended to favor the practical.”

When uncertainty is present, we instinctively favor practical solutions despite our best intentions to keep an open mind.

Your Company’s Bias

As pressure builds for organizations to generate and deliver innovative ideas, an inherent bias against creative ideas can be a significant disadvantage. This problem is further compounded when an organization’s hierarchy inserts multiple checkpoints that ideas must pass though before being fully considered.

A 2013 article for Computers in Human Behavior offers one explanation for why organizations are especially resistant to creative ideas: “The implementation of creative ideas entails risk, can disrupt the status quo in an organization, and can threaten stakeholders’ positions and authority—particularly when the proposed ideas are radical or breakthrough in nature” (Oldham & Da Silva, 2013). In order to get creative ideas past these boundaries, Oldham and Da Silva say that building support for the idea is a key factor in getting them through.

Such support can come from other team members that might have relevant information related to the idea, or even from friends and family who can offer their own feedback and perspective. Support from others can also enhance an individual’s confidence in promoting the idea to key stakeholders, which can go a long way in overcoming organizational resistance.

Rarely is there a shortage of ideas, but even the most innovative organizations need to be aware of their inherent biases. As the research has shown, even the best-intentioned teams can be stymied by skepticism that lurks deep within our subconscious. Maybe the first step to overcoming our inherent skepticism is to accept that, at some point, we have all resisted one creative idea or another. The next time someone pitches you a new idea that seems out there, remember what history and research has taught us, and give it a second thought.

This article is based on Why Great Ideas Get Rejected, by David Burkus.

Filed under creativity.

Easy Time Tracking Software

We know that accurate time tracking is a constant struggle for service businesses. And as the project manager, you probably have a line item in your time sheet dedicated to chasing down other team members so they’ll submit their time. Keeping this in mind, we’ve designed 10,000ft to make time tracking as easy as possible for you and your team.

Every active user gets a personal page and a login to track their time and report what the hours actually worked. The time sheet will show all of the projects and phases they are assigned to as well as the suggested hours for the day based on their assignment. Suggested hours can be confirmed using the Confirm button, or cleared out completely using the “Clear Suggestions” button.

If a team member works on something that they were not assigned to, they can use the “Report Time For Something Else” button and select what they worked on from the list of projects.

There are three time tracking settings that offer different levels of detail. Depending on your company culture and reporting needs, you can choose between Half Day, Hours & Minutes, and Itemized (which allows you to add notes and report time for categories within a project or phase). With Itemized time tracking you can also set budgets for specific categories and create reports based on those categories.

The time sheet can be viewed in week view or in day view. Day view gives you a more detailed view of your schedule for the day, and will display a timer next to each project on your time sheet if you are tracking in Itemized or Hours & Minutes.

NOTE: You can’t edit time sheets for Resource Only users. Once a team member has been invited to 10,000ft, Administrators and Project Managers will be able to edit other team member’s time sheets. Read more on permission levels here.

That should be enough to get you started with time tracking. Follow the links to get more information about specific features. Happy tracking!

Don’t have a 10,000ft account? Create one here.

Simple, Powerful Project Management

When you’re planning a big project, it’s easy to get lost in the details. 10,000ft helps with that by giving you high level project dashboards that show you the plan and how you that plan is progressing over time. Let’s look at some important features about setting up projects in 10,000ft that are good to know.

Projects have three different types: Confirmed, Internal, and Tentative.

For each project you create, you can specify phases within it that have their own start and end dates, budgets, and people assigned to it. Phases are essentially sub-projects that help you plan and report on specific segments of a project.

Every project page gives you a status overview to update you on how much time or fee has been incurred compared to what is future scheduled. If you have a budget set for the project, you will see how your incurred and future scheduled amounts compare to your budget and (more importantly) if you are trending to be over or under the budget overall.

If you keep track of how much fee is associated with each project, you should set bill rates for your team members. Bill Rates can be set in three places, each with a slightly different function:

Helpful Hint:

There is a link on the project page called “View on Schedule” that will automatically filter the schedule to show just the project you were looking at. If you are building out a project plan with a lot of assignments, it might be easier to work from the schedule view rather than the project page, where you will have more space and viewing options.

That should be enough to get you started with the project planning. Follow the links above for more information about specific features. Happy planning!

Don’t have a 10,000ft account? Create one here.

Filed under best-practices.

Welcome Jesper Voorendt

Jesper is interning with our marketing team for the summer. He is from The Netherlands and loves ice speed skating, rowing, and programming. Before coming to Seattle, he studied IT management in Tokyo and appeared in a music video with the popular Japanese Girl band AKB48. Always up for an adventure, he also keeps a summer position at the bungee jump of Scheveningen.

Some other fun facts about Jesper:

You can learn more about him on LinkedIn and his online portfolio. Welcome Jesper!

Filed under news.

Strategic Resource Scheduling

When the office is always buzzing with people and projects, it’s easy to lose track of the big picture of what everyone is working. You know your team is busy, but how busy? And how do you know if your team is so busy that it’s time to hire more people?

The 10,000ft schedule answers these questions and more via an interactive canvas of what your team is working on. Its intuitive design makes it easy to learn, but here are some core concepts that you should be familiar with when you’re starting out.

The first thing to know is that the schedule comes in two high level views: people view and project view. You can switch between these two views using the filter menu in the upper left corner.

The filter menu also allows you to create and save different views of the schedule to cut out any unneeded information and focus on the people or projects you care about at that moment.

For example, you might filter the people schedule to show only team members assigned to a particular project or type of projects. If you are looking for a team member in a certain discipline or with a specific skill, you might filter to show just the discipline or skills tag you are looking for. This is all done from the filter menu.

But you can do more with the schedule than just look at it. You create assignments for users by clicking anywhere on the timeline next to their name. If you click on a blank part of the timeline, you will be prompted to select the project you would like to assign the team member to. If you click on an existing assignment, you will get a different menu with more options. Either end of an assignment can be clicked and dragged to extend or shorten the assignment. This information is automatically sent to the the team member’s time sheet, as well as the corresponding project page.

Other Helpful Features:

That should be enough to get you started with the schedule. Refer to the links for more information about specific areas. Happy scheduling!

Don’t have a 10,000ft account? Create one here.

New Report Export Option In 10,000ft

We’ve got exciting news for all the reports enthusiasts out there. The latest update to 10,000ft adds a new export option for reports that will export just the top-level summary rows and not the underlying time entries. This allows you to create a report in 10,000ft and export it exactly as it is to CSV.

To use the new report export:

  1. 1. Pull a report in 10,000ft
  2. 2. Click Export in the upper right corner
  3. 3. Select “Export This Report to CSV”

The export will only show the summary rows for all of the grouping options in the report. At the bottom of the report, you will also see the time frame and filters that are being applied, as well as a link to get back to the same report in 10,000ft.

The new report export option applies to all report types, including utilization reports.

If you need all of the time entry data associated with a report, you can still export that information by using the “Export Underlying Data as CSV” option.

Log in to your account and try it out. Happy reporting!

Filed under product-updates.

Better Insight With Visual Reports

Every business relies on good reporting; building those reports shouldn’t be a full time job. In this post, we delve into 10,000ft reports a bit and link to more information about specific features. Let’s get started.

Reports help you see how your incurred time lines up with what you originally planned. There are four reports types that you can use to get this information:

Each report type has various grouping options that allow you to create custom views based on data that is meaningful to your company. For example, you can group a Time & Fees report by Client, and then by Project, to see how much time has been allocated to projects for specific clients.

The filter menu allows you to drill down to specific pieces of data, such as a particular team member, project, or tag.

There are many possible combinations of grouping and filtering options. You should familiarize yourself with what is available so you know which reports will give you the data you need.

If you have a certain report type that you know you will refer to often, such as Incurred Time by Department, or Budget Status by Client, you can use the save reports feature to access it quickly the next time you need it.

If you have unique reporting needs, or have another tool that stores data about your company (such as an ERP tool), you might consider building an integration with 10,000ft via our API.

That should be enough about reports to get you started. Follow the links above to learn more about a specific feature area, and play around with the different filtering options until you find the reports you need. Happy reporting!

Don’t have a 10,000ft account? Create one here.

Filed under best-practices.

Welcome Natalie Rohde

Say hello to Natalie Rohde, the newest addition to our business development and marketing team! She’ll be a primary point of contact between us and companies learning to incorporate 10,000ft into their workflow and we’re thrilled to add her expertise to the team.

Natalie is a California native who loves Seattle, food, traveling, backpacking, and gritty, bluesy 60s rock. She is invigorated by startups, technology, and design.

A few things you might not know about Natalie:

You can learn more about Natalie on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Filed under news.

Welcome Ryan Adams

We’re very excited to welcome Ryan Adams to the 10,000ft team! Ryan is joining our customer success team and will be instrumental in helping customers learn to use 10,000ft.

Ryan has made Seattle his home for the last ten years, but tries to get out of town (or the country) every chance he gets. Along with travel adventures, Ryan fills his free time riding motorbikes, playing rock and roll, photography, and creating things on his sewing machine.

A few things you might not know about Ryan:

Filed under news.