How Non-Conformists Move the World
If you want a book that challenges your thinking and opens your eyes to potential blind spots in your leadership and also in your parenting, Originals is the book for you. This isn’t a light on the beach read but rather one you will read sections, think about it and then go back for more. I needed the challenge of this book and am still pondering his insights as part our Summer Development Series.
Adam Grant is recognized as Wharton’s School of Business top rated teacher and one the world’s most influential management thinkers, and one of the world’s best business professors under forty. His New York Times bestseller, Give and Take, has made a significant impact in the business world and stirred up lots of conversations still happening among leaders today.
His latest work, Originals is doing the same.
Here are a few of the key takeaways from the book that may inspire you to get a copy and digest in your own development.
1. Defining Originals.
Adam contrasts originality and conformity and builds the case for becoming more original. He defines originals as people who take the initiative to make their visions a reality. They are curious, challenge assumptions, and have the courage to contemplate and lead change. They reject the default or status quo and explore whether there is a better option. Grant challenges us to develop originality in ourselves and to unleash it in others.
2. Overcoming resistance to change.
Grant shares stories of famous people and ordinary people who were successful in innovative change. The common traits were not the creative abilities of these individuals alone but their resolve, courage and persistence in making change happen. People who champion originality have the same fears and doubts as the rest of us, but what sets them apart is that they take action in spite of the fear.
3. Strategic procrastination.
Time to think, test, and do other things may be the best plan for creative, innovative change. Being first to innovate is not necessarily the best strategy. Originals are patient in testing new ideas. Grant gives a powerful example of the work of Leonardo Da Vinci and the Mona Lisa. He started the painting in 1503 and didn’t complete it until nearly 16 years later, preferring to focus on other pursuits and experiments. Historians believe this “creative brainstorming” is what allowed Da Vinci to create such a powerful original work of art.
4. Beware of passion.
This one made me pause. Grant challenges us on the danger of passion alone and enthusiasm of ideas simply isn’t enough. There must be equal passion and enthusiasm for the hard work of execution through specific actions. It is easier to give a passionate leadership address than it is to roll up your sleeves and do the work necessary to bring about change. Innovation requires testing, failure, and testing more. Originals are willing to do the hard work to bring about change.
5. The danger of a commitment culture.
How do we build a strong culture that also welcomes dissent? A healthy culture and a healthy leader supports and encourages debate, questions, and challenges. It is a culture where suggestions and input is welcome and supported. There is danger when the commitment to the mission and vision is so strong that no one will speak up for fear that their questions seem disloyal to the mission. Grant gives a great example in the story of Edwin Land, the founder of Polaroid. This same leader and organization that created the digital camera went bankrupt because of it. Polaroid failed due to a faulty assumption that customers would always want hard copies of pictures. Beware of the tendency to seek consensus instead of fostering dissent. People will feel the pressure to confirm to the dominate, default views instead of championing diversity of thought.How do we build a strong culture that also welcomes dissent? A healthy culture supports debate. Click To Tweet
6. Specific actions for impact.
Grant wraps up his book by providing specific actions for individuals, leaders, and for parents and teachers to generate and champion new ideas, to build cultures that welcome dissent, and to help children take a creative or moral stand against status quo. There is also a free assessment provided to gauge your knowledge of originality.
Originals is a thought provoking and insightful read. With the ever pressing changes happening in the market today, as leaders we need to foster cultures where people can challenge success, offer new insights and ideas, and bring solutions for future success.
As leaders of faith, it is wonderful to remember that God is the author of all things original! We have the image of our creative God in our DNA!God is the author of all things original and we carry His image in our DNA! Click To Tweet
“So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.” Genesis 1:27
What other leadership insights did you gain from Originals by Adam Grant?