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Weird Ideas That Work: 11 1/2 Practices for Promoting, Managing, and Sustaining Innovation

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Robert I. Sutton

Who'd have thought fighting with each other would be good for employees? Or that ignoring superiors would be a wise business practice? Sutton, consultant and professor at the Stanford Engineering School, advocates taking a nontraditional approach to … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Cafe Libri
Author: Robert I. Sutton
Genre: Business & Investing
Publisher: Free Press
1 review about Weird Ideas That Work: 11 1/2 Practices...

After You Read This Book, Challenge Every Idea in It

  • Mar 21, 2002
There are dozens of excellent books on the subject of innovation and this is one of the best. Frankly, I found none of Sutton's ideas "weird." Unorthodox, thought-provoking, and perhaps even somewhat controversial but certainly not weird. (Perhaps the title was devised to accommodate marketing needs.) He makes two important distinctions: between routine work (essentially defending and sustaining the status quo) and innovative work (challenging and disrupting, perhaps even transforming the status quo), and, between invention (creating something entirely new) and innovation (discovering new applications for what has already been invented). He also correctly acknowledges the advantages and disadvantages of separating innovation initiatives from the traditional organization structure. In Organizing Genius, Patricia Ward Biederman and Warren Bennis explain why it was so important to establish Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in California, far removed from corporate headquarters in Connecticut. Sutton suggests that such separation may not always be possible or at least prudent. In general, though, innovation is most productive when not constrained by limits of any kind. Indeed, innovation worthy of the name is by nature anathema to order and structure. For me, the greatest value of this book lies not in any one or even in all of the "Weird Ideas" which Sutton proposes; rather, in what could be the "world view" and mindsets which those ideas suggest. "Feelings -- not cold cognitions -- drive people to turn good ideas into reality....Every innovative company I know is passionate about solving problems....Playfulness and curiosity are related attitudes of innovation [in combination with] the ability to switch emotional gears between cynicism and belief, or between deep doubt and unshakable confidence." If you take Sutton's admonitions to heart, challenge all of his ideas as well as everyone else's ideas and come up with more innovative ones of your own. Throughout the 15 chapters which comprise this book, he carefully prepares his reader to do just that.

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