Originals by Adam Grant

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Adam Grant is the youngest tenured professor at Wharton. In this book, he provides a blueprint for originality. Grant analyzes the key patterns among creative thinkers throughout history. He emphasizes not only the power of originality, but also the importance of convincing others to help make your idea a reality.


12 lessons

Originals

– by Adam Grant –


1) Question the default

Instead of taking the status quo for granted, ask why it exists in the first place. When you remember that rules and systems were created by people, it becomes clear that they’re not set in stone – and you begin to consider how they can be improved.

2) Come up with more ideas

On average, creative geniuses aren’t qualitatively better in their fields than their peers. They simply produced a greater volume of work, which gives them more variation and a higher chance of originality. Many people fail to achieve originality because they only generate a few ideas and then obsess about refining them to perfection.

3) Immerse yourself in a new domain

Originality increases when you broaden your frame of reference. You could learn a new skill, change your job, or experience a different culture.

4) Procrastinate strategically

When you’re generating new ideas, deliberately stop when your progress is incomplete. By taking a break in the middle of your brainstorming process, you’re more likely to engage in divergent thinking and give ideas time to incubate.

5) Seek helpful feedback

When we’ve developed an idea, we’re typically too close to our own tastes – and too far from the audience’s taste – to evaluate it accurately. Run your pitches by peers who can spot the potential and possibilities.

6) Balance your risk portfolio

When you’re going to take a risk in one domain, offset it by being unusually cautious in another realm of your life. This can help you avoid unnecessary gambles.

7) Lead with your weaknesses

When you’re pitching a new idea or speaking up with a suggestion for change, your audience is likely to be skeptical. Being upfront about the downsides of your ideas makes you more trustworthy.

8) Make your ideas more familiar

Repeating yourself over a short period of time makes people more comfortable with an unconventional idea. You can also make your original concept more appealing by connecting it with other ideas that are already understood by the audience.

9) Speak to a different audience

Instead of seeking out friendly people who share your values, try approaching disagreeable people who share your methods. Your best allies are the people who have a track record of being tough and solving problems with approaches similar to yours.

10) Be a tempered radical

If your idea is extreme, cloak it in a more conventional goal. That way, instead of changing people’s minds, you can appeal to values or beliefs that they already hold.

11) Picture yourself as the enemy

People often fail to generate new ideas due to a lack of urgency. Think about how you would put your own organization out of business, then decide how to convert these threats into opportunities.

12) Hire not on cultural fit, but on cultural contribution

When leaders prize cultural fit, they end up hiring people who think in similar ways. Originality comes not from people who match the culture, but from those who enrich it.