Teresa Amabile

TAGS: Creativity, Employee Engagement, Innovation, Leadership, Motivation

Teresa Amabile

Teresa Amabile is the Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration and a Director of Research at Harvard Business School. Originally educated as a chemist, Amabile received her doctorate in psychology from Stanford University. She studies how everyday life inside organizations can influence people and their performance. Amabile’s research encompasses creativity, productivity, innovation, and inner work life–the confluence of emotions, perceptions, and motivation that people experience as they react to events at work.

Amabile’s most recent discoveries appear in her book, The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work. The book, based on research from over 12,000 daily diary entries of over 200 professionals inside organizations, illuminates how everyday events at work can impact employee engagement and creative productivity. The book is co-authored with Amabile’s husband and collaborator, Steven Kramer, Ph.D. Amabile’s other books include Creativity in Context and Growing Up Creative.



  • THE PROGRESS PRINCIPLE: How to Boost Engagement and Creative Productivity

    What really makes people happy, motivated, productive, and creative at work? In Teresa Amabile's latest research, she's discovered the answer. It’s “The Progress Principle,” and it reveals the single most important thing that managers can do to engage their employees. Analyzing nearly 12,000 daily diaries from over 200 knowledge workers, Amabile discovered eleven specific actions that managers can take to catalyze progress and nourish employees’ motivation. Through lectures, workshops, and interactive discussions on this topic, you will learn how to leverage “The Progress Principle” to achieve the dual goals of supporting employee well-being and igniting creative productivity.

  • How Leaders Make or Break the Work Environment for Innovation

    According to common wisdom, innovation depends solely on the creative talents of the smartest people inside an organization. But common wisdom is wrong. Building on 35 years of research and work with some of the world’s most innovative companies, Teresa Amabile shows how talent and intelligence are only the raw materials that the best leaders shape into powerhouses of innovation. In talks and workshops on this topic, Amabile uses research and stories from diverse organizations to show how leaders at all levels can build the three components of individual creativity and the three components of organizational innovation. Through these insights, you will gain new leverage on the most important assets in contemporary businesses.

  • The Power of Small Wins

    By collecting and analyzing nearly 12,000 daily diary entries from dozens of workers across companies and industries, Teresa Amabile discovered that 28% of seemingly minor events at work have a major impact on people’s emotions, perceptions, and motivation. The most important of these is the “small win”–incremental progress toward a meaningful goal. Of all the things that can maintain knowledge workers’ engagement and continually boost their performance, the single most powerful is making at least one step forward on meaningful work every day. The key for managers and for employees is developing the daily discipline to reflect on the day’s progress, setbacks, work catalysts, and work inhibitors, targeting one action for the following day. In this talk, you'll learn how to identify small wins, how to support and capitalize on them, and–ultimately–how to increase the probability that they will lead to innovative success.

  • Workplace Confidential: Revelations from Work Diaries

    The popular television comedy The Office (BBC, NBC) shows workers revealing their innermost thoughts, feelings, and drives to an unseen, ever-present “other.” Through extensive research, Teresa Amabile has tapped into nearly 12,000 such revelations. Over 200 volunteers working on creative projects in 26 teams in 7 companies in 3 industries filled out electronic daily diary forms about their inner work lives and events unfolding at work–every day, over the entire course of their projects. The diary stories reveal the hidden perceptions, emotions, and motivations that people experience as they react to and make sense of the events in their workdays. In this presentation, you'll learn from a detailed analyses of these diaries; find out what really happens at work – from the perspective of people in the trenches; and explore the implications for people, their performance, and their organizations.

  • Video: TED Talk

    The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work

    What really sets the best managers above the rest? It’s their power to build a cadre of employees who have great inner work lives—consistently positive emotions; strong motivation; and favorable perceptions of the organization, their work, and their colleagues. The worst managers undermine inner work life, often unwittingly. As Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer explain in The Progress Principle, seemingly mundane workday events can make or break employees’ inner work lives. But it’s forward momentum in meaningful work—progress—that creates the best inner work lives... MORE →


  • Video: Bloomberg Interview
  • Interview on The Progress Principle
  • Video: The Power of Small Wins
  • Video: Interview
  • Video: Authors@Google talk
  • @teresaAmabile: Follow Teresa on Twitter