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Harv Bus Rev. 2001 Sep;79(8):94-103, 161.

The weird rules of creativity.

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  • 1Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA.

Abstract

For at least the past decade, the holy grail for companies has been innovation. Managers have gone after it with all the zeal their training has instilled in them, using a full complement of tried and true management techniques. The problem is that none of these practices, well suited for cashing in on old, proven products and business models, works very well when it comes to innovation. Instead, managers should take most of what they know about management and stand it on its head. In this article, Robert Sutton outlines several ideas for managing creativity that are clearly odd but clearly effective: Place bets on ideas without much heed to their projected returns. Ignore what has worked before. Goad perfectly happy people into fights among themselves. Good creativity management means hiring the candidate you have a gut feeling against. And as for the people who stick their fingers in their ears and chant, "I'm not listening, I'm not listening," when customers make suggestions? Praise and promote them. Using vivid examples from more than a decade of academic research to illustrate his points, the author discusses new approaches to hiring, managing creative people, and dealing with risk and randomness in innovation. His conclusions? The practices in this article succeed because they increase the range of a company's knowledge, allow people to see old problems in new ways, and help companies break from the past.

PMID:
11550634
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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