Jun 21, 2004

Weird Ideas by Bob Sutton



Some time ago Robert Sutton wrote a HBR article on "11 and a 1/2 weird ideas that work". He's now got that into the form of a book and takes on the type of "gurus" of innovation like Gary Hamel.

Sutton earlier wrote The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Firms Turn Knowledge Into Action along with Jeffrey Pfeffer.

Sutton studies the links between managerial knowledge and organizational action, innovation, and organizational performance. That's why I'm so fascinated by his work. Our interests overlap ! :-)

here are some of his ideas :-))

Weird Idea #1. Hire slow learners of the organizational code. Specifically, hire people with a special kind of stupidity or stubbornness -- who avoid, ignore, or reject how things are "supposed to be done around here." Surround those slow learners with fast learners who understand how to promote their creative ideas.

Weird Idea #1 1/2. Hire people who make you uncomfortable -- even those whom you dislike. Once you've hired people who prompt discomfort, take extra care to listen to their ideas.

Weird Idea #2. Hire people whom you (probably) don't need. Interview and occasionally hire interesting or strange people with skills that your company doesn't need at the moment -- and might never need. Then ask them how they can help you. You might be surprised.

Weird Idea #3. Use job interviews to get new ideas, not just to screen candidates. Job interviews are a weak way to select employees. Still, there is a little-known benefit: They provide the opportunity to learn something new. Give job candidates problems that you can't solve. Listen as much as you can. Talk as little as you can.

Weird Idea #4. Encourage people to ignore superiors and peers. Hire defiant outsiders. Rather than teaching newcomers about company history or procedure, have the newcomers teach the old-timers how to think and act. Encourage people to drive you crazy by doing what they think is right rather than what they are told.

Weird Idea #5. Find happy people, and let them fight. If you want innovation, you need upbeat people who know the right way to battle. Avoid conflict during the earliest stages of the creative process, but encourage people to fight over ideas in the intermediate stages.