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100 Best Business Books of All Time

Following years of reading, appraising, and retailing business books, 800-CEO-READ creator Jack Covert, ex-president Todd Sattersten, and present general manager Sally Haldorson have selected and appraised the one hundred greatest business titles of all time—the ones that dispense the biggest payoff for today’s occupied readers. It’s a great list, and in the vein of all lists, bound by argument and long-windedness about what is and isn’t contained in this list. Each book gets a couple of pages of outline handling.

Best Business Books on Improving Your Life

Best Business Books on Leadership

Best Business Books on Strategy

Best Business Books on Sales and Marketing

Best Business Books on Economics and Metrics

Best Business Books on Management

Best Business Biographies

Best Business Books on Entrepreneurship

Best Narratives of Fortune and Failure

Best Business Books on Innovation and Creativity

Best Books on Big Ideas About the Future of Business

Best Business Books on Management and Leadership Lessons

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Posted in Business and Strategy Leaders and Innovators Management and Leadership Mental Models and Psychology Philosophy and Wisdom

What Makes an Introvert

Myths about Introversion

5 Myths about Introversion

Extraverted managers can be a obligation if the followers are extroverts, tending not to be amenable to employees who make suggestions and take initiative. Introverted managers are more likely to listen to, process, and execute the ideas of an eager team. This is well aligned with the advanced leadership skill of coaching (defined as asking thought provoking questions and then truly listening to the response). Whether introverted or extraverted, a manager who has the discipline to listen to what others has to say will engage a larger percentage of employees. Many introverts find it simpler to listen than extraverts. But it certainly is a skill that can be taught, trained and institutionalized.

'Introvert Power' by Laurie Helgoe (ISBN 1402280882) The greatest leaders are those who are able to leverage the talents of the people around them and raise each person to function closer to or at their full potential. Other critical attributes to leadership—authenticity, self-awareness and emotional intelligence—also have nothing to do with introversion or extroversion.

  • Myth #1: Being Introverted is the same as Being Shy: While there may be a number of introverts who are shy, there are also a number of extroverts who are shy. There is no absolute association. Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not. Introverts are also not misanthropic, though some of us do go along with Sartre as far as to say “Hell is other people at breakfast.” Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring.
  • Myth #2: Introverts are Socially Inept or Anxious in Social Situations: Again, while this may be true for some introverts, this can also be true for extroverts and is not directly related to one’s introversion. Extroverts therefore dominate public life. This is a pity. If we introverts ran the world, it would no doubt be a calmer, saner, more peaceful sort of place. Some people even describe themselves as ambiverts, smack-dab in the middle. Regardless of where you fall in this spectrum, it helps to be aware of how you operate and can best interact with others.
  • Myth #3: If I am Fearful of Public Speaking I Must be an Introvert: Studies show the fear of public speaking is the top fear people face, and that 75% of persons experience speaking apprehension. Yet less than half of all people are introverts. Again, there is no direct correlation and this affects extroverts in the same way it involves introverts. People will often use the word “introvert” as shorthand for a variety of negative stereotypes: loner, shy, socially awkward, wallflower, misanthrope. Of course, it’s possible for an introvert to be any of those things, but the same is true for an extrovert.
  • Myth #4: Introverts Have Communication Challenges and Difficulty Knowing What to Say: This is social anxiety, not introversion. If you research social anxiety you do not find references to introversion as a cause. The trick for introverts is to honour their styles instead of allowing themselves to be swept up by prevailing norms.
  • Myth #5: If You Act Like an Extrovert You Can “Overcome” Introversion: The truth is best summed up by an email I received from a companion executive: “I have spent the better part of a 10-year career turning introversion into extroversion via the same technique used by people to heal bad posture—over correct it long enough and the correct posture becomes natural. This approach was certainly unforgettable but I made a fool of myself more times than I can remember, which is not conducive to long-term connections.” Because of the more reserved, private nature of introverts, people can also think they’re aloof or arrogant.

Introverted managers work against their type in order to fit in with their extroverted colleagues. Not only do individual leaders suffer the energy drains of pretending to be more extroverted but also businesses miss out many of on the contributions that come directly from the introverted qualities they do have.

Ray Williams, a well-known executive trainer and leadership guide in Canada, observes how the introvert—extrovert gulf manipulates our standpoint toward leaders:

Movies, television and the news media have significantly influenced our popular images of leaders—from Clint Eastwood, to Jim Carey, Larry Ellison, and Donald Trump—for the past three decades. This stereotypical view of charismatic, extroverted individuals, often egocentric and aggressive, has been associated with what we want and expect in our leaders. Our culture, particularly in business and politics, seems to be in love with the charismatic leader—the guns blazing, no-holds barred, center-of-attention leader, who is a super-confident if not arrogant, aggressively decisive leader of a band of star-struck followers …. The status and reputation of quiet, introverted leadership is undervalued and under-appreciated. Despite decades of research on leadership pointing to other less demonstrative skills that are needed, extroverts are still favored in recruiting and promoting decisions. Yet recent research reveals that introverted, quiet leaders may be more suited for today’s workplace. If you want an example of a successful introverted leader, you need look no further than Warren Buffett.

What Makes an Introvert

What Makes an Introvert

'Quiet The Power of Introverts' by Susan Cain (ISBN 0803740603) Introverts’ listening skills can be an asset when leading teams. Making sure everyone feels heard, Yeager said, is a good way to secure buy-in. When you’re trying to gain consensus, give everyone the opportunity to voice their opinion. People will be more likely to go along with your decision, even if it’s not the option they preferred, if they feel like they were heard. Susan Cain in ‘Quiet The Power of Introverts’:

Solitude is out of fashion. Our companies, our schools and our culture are in thrall to an idea I call the New Groupthink, which holds that creativity and achievement come from an oddly gregarious place. Most of us now work in teams, in offices without walls, for managers who prize people skills above all. Lone geniuses are out. Collaboration is in…. This has led to a colossal waste of talent, energy, and happiness.

  • Careful thinkers who look before they leap
  • Usually only speak when they have something to say, after processing internally
  • Comfort with independent thought and action
  • Feel at their most alive and energized in quiet situations
  • Need solitude to balance out social time
  • Active inner life, imagination and a strong creative streak
  • Steady, balanced presence during turbulent times
  • Sharp observational skills
  • Capacity for active listening and connecting on an intimate level
  • Willing to put other people and their vision in the spotlight
  • Desire for focus and to develop a depth of understanding/mastery over a topic

Common Myths About Introverts

Some Common Myths About Introverts

'The Introvert Entrepreneur' by Beth Buelow (ISBN 0399174834) Though introverts may have a more reserved leadership style than extroverts, they possess many qualities that make them good leaders. Their capacity for listening and reflection, for instance, helps them forge strong relationships with colleagues and clients. Introverts have the ability to really take in what people are saying, process it, and come back to it in a meaningful way.

  • They are shy or antisocial. There are “social introverts” who are drawn to people byt need a higher ratio of solitude to social time. There are also those who more closely match the stereotypes of a strong loner.
  • They make poor leaders, and are best suited for jobs that limit contact with people. In fact, research shows introverted leaders often out-perform extroverted ones.
  • They’re always quiet and don’t talk
  • They’re depressed
  • They’re all bookworms and nerds
  • They’re arrogant, aloof or stuck up

It’s important for introverts to be strategic about how they use their time and energy. Decide in advance who you want to meet and which events you want to attend. Set a goal such as having lunch with a certain number of people this quarter. What I’ve learned is that I don’t have to talk to everyone in the room. Having two to four good, meaningful conversations is enough.

Establish an introvert-friendly environment:

  • Stop prejudging.
  • Learn the strengths and weaknesses of both.
  • Exploit strengths.
  • Find solutions as teams.
  • Give introverts emotional and physical space. Allow for pauses.
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Posted in Management and Leadership Mental Models and Psychology

Charlie Munger in Praise of Multidisciplinary Thinking

A multidisciplinary approach involves drawing appropriately from multiple disciplines to redefine problems outside of normal boundaries and reach solutions based on a new understanding of complex situations.

'Charlie Munger The Complete Investor' by Tren Griffin (ISBN 023117098X) From ‘Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor’ by Tren Griffin

No one can know everything, but you can work to understand the big important models in each discipline at a basic level so they can collectively add value in a decision-making process. Simply put, Munger believes that people who think very broadly and understand many different models from many different disciplines make better decisions and are therefore better investors.

Multidisciplinary thinking offers a schema or a philosophical template within which thinkers can find an intellectual connectedness to decompartmentalize their approach and face the new intellectual horizons with a broader perspective. Single disciplines are too narrow a perspective regarding many phenomena.

Human thought, as it has evolved in detached disciplines, and the physical systems within which we live exhibit a level of complexity across and within systems that makes it impossible to understand the important phenomena that are affecting humans today from the perspective of any single incomplete system of thought. Thus interconnected systems and high levels of complexity yield a situation in which multidisciplinary tactics to understanding and problem solving produce the real growth industry in the next generation of scholarly thought.

Disciplines develop their own internal ways of looking at the phenomena that interest them. Become broadly knowledgeable about any particular phenomenon as possible before constructing theories and asserting truth assertions. Problems arise from the lack of a viewpoint from which one can understand the relationship between various disciplines.

'Conceptual Foundations for Multidisciplinary Thinking' by Stephen Kline (ISBN 0804724091) In ‘Conceptual Foundations for Multidisciplinary Thinking’, Stanford’s Prof. Stephen Jay Kline expounds the necessity of multidisciplinary discourse:

Multidisciplinary discourse is more than just important. We can have a complete intellectual system, one that covers all the necessary territory, only if we add multidisciplinary discourse to the knowledge within the disciplines. This is true not only in principle but also for strong pragmatic reasons. This will assure the safety of our more global ideas.

Producing and applying knowledge no longer work within strict disciplinary boundaries. New dimensions of intricacy, scale, and uncertainty in technical problems put them beyond the reach of one-thought disciplines. Advances with the most impact are born at the frontiers of more than one engineering discipline.

Multidisciplinarity refers more to the internalization of knowledge. This happens when abstract associations are developed using an outlook in one discipline to transform a perspective in another or research techniques developed in one elaborate a theoretic framework in another.

To get the most out of their R&D workforce, many organizations seek persons who comprehend a range of science and engineering principles and procedures to guarantee that work will be advanced even if a specific expert were not always available.

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Posted in Hobbies and Pursuits Mental Models and Psychology

Six Drivers of Creativity and Risk-Taking

Six Drivers of Creativity

It is not enough to want to become more creative and to take more risks. To do so means challenging yourself, your team, and the organization. Moving out of our comfort zones is something we rarely do. Yet when we do, we gain insights into our own character. We can then reshape ourselves to the way we want. This is also the case with organizations and teams. But it means changing the culture.

The culture is reflected in what the organization or team values and how it does its business, as well as its propensity for risk taking and creativity. How does your organization view risk taking? Does your culture punish or reward people for taking risks? How willing are you to take risks at work?

Your propensity for risk taking is, in part, a function of the culture. If your boss doles out punitive measures for anyone who fails at a task, you play it safe. Or, if eyes roll when you offer an idea at a brainstorming session, you think twice about offering ideas.

The creativity or risk taking in a culture is consistent with the characteristics of one of seven orientations: Challenger, Innovator, Drean1er, Sustainer, Planner, Modifier, or Practicalizer. This composite profile becomes the group’s norm. Changing the group norm is difficult.

We need to focus on what we can influence directly: our immediate work teams and ourselves. Our efforts in these areas can yield powerful results.

Use these drivers of creativity and risk taking to build innovative capacity:

  1. Creativity driver 1: Ambiguity and its opposite, predictability. Operating in an ambiguous situation means dealing with uncertainty and vagueness. Those who function effectively in ambiguous circumstances don’t require highly structured situations, goals, or objectives to accomplish or create things, ideas, services, or products. Growth in this area yields innovative solutions. Since dealing with ambiguity is challenging, many people try to control variables, chart alternative courses of action, and eliminate the impact of uncertainty. The opposite of ambiguity is predictability. People who demand predictability require structure, clarity, and definition.
  2. Creativity driver 2: Independence and its opposite, dependence. Independence means not being subject to the control, influence, or determination of others. People who are independent will not subordinate themselves to others. They don’t like to be managed by others. They are self-empowered. They don’t have to be given direction. They don’t like to ask for help, believing their way to be the best way. Dependent people need direction from someone. They do not take action without prior approval.
  3. Creativity driver 3: Inner-directedness and its opposite, other-directedness. Inner-directed people and teams feel a great sense of purpose. They often have clear vision of the future. People who are inner-directed believe that they are responsible for determining their own destiny, expectations, and norms. They are guided by their own set of values. They sometimes believe that no one really understands them. Often, they have difficulty reconciling personal agendas to corporate directives. People who are other-directed are always concerned about what everyone else thinks or is doing. Other-directed people don’t take the lead without input from others.
  4. Creativity driver 4: Uniqueness and its opposite, conformity. Uniqueness is appreciating and valuing differences. People and teams that value uniqueness look for creativity in themselves and others. They foster it. They first look for the differences, not to accentuate them, but appreciate and take advantage of them. The opposite of uniqueness is conformity, acting in ways that conform to current styles, norms, or expectations.

Six Drivers of Risk-Taking

  1. Risk-taking driver 1: Authentic and its opposite, political. Authentic means being what you purport to be. Authentic people and teams live by their core beliefs; they mean what they say and say what they mean. Their actions are congruent with their espoused values. They “walk their talk” and “tell it like it is.” They take stands on issues. They are true and genuine. Its opposite is being political. Political people don’t communicate with others directly. They are always navigating or positioning for self-advantage.
  2. Risk-taking driver 2: Resiliency and its opposite, rigidity. Resiliency is the ability to rebound, adapt, and learn, even in the face of adversity and stress. Resilient people pick themselves up after being knocked down. They believe that something good always comes out of a bad experience. They create options. They persevere. They get the job done, sometimes by the force of their will. Its opposite is rigidity or inflexibility in response to change, rejection, or setbacks.
  3. Risk-taking driver 3: Self-acceptance and its opposite, victimization. Self-accepting means to be approving of one’s own behaviors or actions. Self-accepting people like themselves and their situations. They exhibit self-confidence. They are unlikely to say they’re sorry about much, because they have few regrets. They don’t try to be perfect. They like themselves, in spite of themselves sometimes. Its opposite is victimization. Victimized people complain and blame others.

If everyone on your team cultivated these drivers, your innovative capacity would accelerate rapidly.

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Posted in Mental Models and Psychology

Human Conscience is an Unending Stream of Continuous Thought

William James and his concept of Stream of Consciousness

Although the concept of the mind possessing a streaming consciousness can be found in early Buddhist texts, the first modern approach to the phenomenon was put forward by William James (1842-1910), one of the United States’ first recognized psychologists in his 1,200-word masterwork The Principles of Psychology in 1899.

In this book, James speaks of consciousness as being “unbroken” and states that there are no “gaps,” or as he liked to say no “intrusive alien substances,” that come along to distinguish or break up one period of consciousness from the next. For consciousness to be interrupted by gaps or intrusions, James thought, is like “expecting the eye to feel a gap of silence because it does not hear, or the ear to feel a gap of darkness because it does not see. So much,” he said, “for the gaps that are unfelt.”

Consciousness, rather than being “chopped up,” was likened instead by James to a river or stream, a process that is ever-flowing even in the event of a sudden interruption, such as an explosion or losing one’s footing and falling over. These sorts of things-a clap of thunder or the sound of a gunshot—are about as disconnected from our present thoughts as “a joint in bamboo is a break in the wood.” The thunder clap is as intrinsically a part of our continuing, unbroken consciousness as the joint is a part of the bamboo in which it grows. James believed that our cognitive experiences overlap one another and are linked by what he called “fringes,” subconscious tabs, which act as clasps that are necessary in binding our conscious thoughts together, and prevent us from living in a chaotic inner world of random, unrelated experiences.

James’s theory influenced literature and became a narrative device to depict the multitudinous thoughts and feelings that pass through an individual’s mind. James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922) is one of the best-known examples of the stream of consciousness technique. William James wrote in Principles of Psychology (1890) that, “The attempt at introspective analysis in these cases is in fact like seizing a spinning top to catch its motion, or trying to turn up the gas quickly enough to see how the darkness looks.”

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Posted in Mental Models and Psychology Philosophy and Wisdom

Best Books on Creativity

Inspire Greater Creativity

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Posted in Mental Models and Psychology

Books on Creativity Recommended by Ted Leonsis

Creative people often retain a capability to adopt a number of diverse stances or perspectives. When they look at their own work, they focus interchangeably on the technical aspects, the visual design, the ideas, and so on. They develop a set of standards or a checklist that leads their attention and helps them to scrutinize the creative process. Moreover, they master a lexis that enables them to assess their work in multiple dimensions, so that they can pass more qualified judgements than just ‘good’ or ‘bad.’

A multidimensional valuation gives students feedback, which helps them determine their strengths and detect areas in which they need to improve. The scores on such valuations can also help an educational program to review its results, contemplate its position and modify the course if necessary. Although creativity can only make the most of as originality, utility, and surprise all approach unity, the same description indicates that there are seven different ways that creativity can minimize. These alternatives were identified as

  • routine, reproductive, or habitual ideas,
  • accidental response bias,
  • irrational perseveration,
  • problem finding,
  • rational suppression,
  • irrational suppression, and
  • blissful ignorance.

According to conventional wisdom, creativity is somewhat done by creative people. Even creativity researchers, for several decades, seemed to direct their work by this principle, converging predominantly on individual differences: What are creative people like, and how are they different from most people in the world? Although this person-centered tactic yielded some important findings about the backgrounds, personality traits, and work styles of marvelously creative people, it was both limited and limiting. It presented little to practitioners related with helping people to become more creative in their work, and it virtually ignored the role of the social environment in creativity and innovation. In contrast to the long-established approach, the Componential Theory of Creativity assumes that all humans with normal capabilities are able to produce at least judiciously creative work in some domain, some of the time-and that the social environment (the work environment) can manipulate both the level and the incidence of creative behavior.

Books on Creativity Recommended by Ted Leonsis Ted Leonsis, the Internet entrepreneur, former AOL senior executive, and owner of the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals recommends the following books on creativity.

  • Ed Catmull’s Creativity : 1970s computer animation pioneer and Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull‘s appealingly comprehensive explanation of how the studio he co-founded generated hits such as the Toy Story trilogy, Up, and Wall-E. Catmull closes that it is a leader’s responsibility to stop ambitious and perfectionist staff destroying their health and that of others. Aiming for zero mistakes is the worst possible goal for a creative project. He argues that a company has to appreciate the work of creativity and learn how to navigate the failures that will happen along the way.
  • 'Crossing the Chasm' by Geoffrey A. Moore (ISBN 0062292986) Geoffrey A. Moore’s Crossing the Chasm: Author Geoffrey A. Moore is managing partner of TCG Advisors, a consulting practice that delivers business and marketing strategy assistances to well-known high-technology companies. Moore declared that the greatest change in the marketing approach happens at the chasm—the organizations to the right of the chasm have meaningfully different opportunities than those on the left. Many ideas fail in the marketplace because their enthusiasts are not capable to cross the chasm.
  • Elmira Bayrasli’s From the Other Side of the World: Journalist Elmira Bayrasli posits that brilliant people around the world are conquering insoluble obstacles to build high-growth businesses that are driving wealth and building communities, regions and countries. By means of seven noteworthy stories, Bayrasli shows the next set of successful entrepreneurs could come not only from the as Silicon Valley but also from Nigeria, Pakistan or Mexico. She writes, “Entrepreneurs, by the very nature of what they do—disrupt and innovate—provide a necessary check and balance on government that no one else can—not businesspeople, not NGOs, not civil society organizations. They help remake the social order and help move progress forward, giving rise to new ideas, new industries, and new possibilities and forcing change. That is what has made them both heroes and villains that many in power feel the need to keep in check.”
  • 'Stop Playing Safe' by Margie Warrell (ISBN 1118505581) Margie Warrell’s Stop Playing Safe: When people confront a challenge, they often recoil into inaction. Drawing from the latest research plus dialogues with highly successful leaders and entrepreneurs, Warrell offers practical tools and inspiration needed to enjoy greater confidence, accomplishment and success in work and life. Outline your sense of purpose and engage in more inspiring goals. Circumnavigate uncertainty with clarity and be more decisive in adversity. Surmount the fear of failure and bounce back from setbacks with superior flexibility. Toughen your leadership ability and expand your influence regardless of position. Build a culture of courage in your office that advances bottom line results. As you strive to reach your goals, as you make those tough choices and take risks, look for your enthusiasm, find your power, and aim to make a difference. And know that this attitude—this mindset, this entrepreneurial way of looking at the world—runs though the lives of all successful people.
  • Linda A. Hill, et al.’s Collective Genius: The perpetual organizational challenge is to develop an organization capable of inventing over and over. Outdated, direction-setting leadership can work well when the resolution to a problem is known and forthright. The role of a leader of innovation is not to set a vision and stimulate others to follow it. It’s to create a cooperative spirit that is enthusiastic and capable to innovate. Collective Genius addresses (1) how leaders generate a willingness to do the hard work of innovation, and (2) how leaders can generate the ability to do the hard work of innovation.
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How to Feel More Optimistic

  • Feel More Optimistic No matter what happens, you’re not a victim. It’s up to you to determine your response.
  • Embrace your life’s purpose. Make your own unique contribution that turns your environment into a better place and fulfills you.
  • Make the reality your reality.
  • Don’t be distracted by the overwhelmingly negative news around you.
  • Don’t look back too often. Keep yourself open to today’s new opportunities.
  • Listen to your friends and loved ones, but don’t become dependent on what others think of you.
  • Be grateful for everything life has given you and for every step forward you can take.
  • Make sure you laugh often. Do not take yourself too seriously.
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Creativity: Difference between Innovation and Invention

Creativity: Difference between Innovation and Invention

Creativity involves the creation of a goal-directed novelty. Creativity results in the purposeful production of new things, either ideas or physical objects; the creative process or creative thinking is the psychological means whereby such novelty is brought about. Assuming that the individual’s purpose and meaning is critical in creative production necessitates that one cannot be called “creative” if one creates something new by accident. The consequent utilization of that accidental novelty might comprise processes that we could label as creative. The initial “discovery” did not, according to the delineation assumed here, come about through the creative process. It is normally not useful to contain value in this definition. Defining creativity as the production of novel products that are of value (no matter how one defines value) causes in complexities that represent the definition unusable. The invention process covers all efforts aimed at creating new ideas and getting them to work. Most important, the value of some product can change over time, which means that, if we take account of value in our definition of creative, the products or persons that one generation classifies as creative might not be so classified by the next. That prospect means that our database would be constantly shifting as we tried to mature our interpretation of creativity and associated concepts—an unacceptable set of circumstances.

Innovation involves a product that meets some benchmarks beyond those of intention and novelty; an innovation is a new product that serves some objective. It is here that questions of value become important. Building on the definition of creativity just given, an innovation is a new product that was intentionally produced to achieve some purpose and that succeeds, to a scale that is adequate, in doing so. Design is the process whereby innovation is brought about. So the design process encompasses creativity (the generation of novelty) as well as something more (the correction of that novelty so that it serves some specific purpose).

Innovation, design, and invention are directly related concepts; an invention is also a novel product that has been intentionally developed to achieve some purpose (that is, an invention is also an innovation as defined above). As opposed to innovation the term invention was regarded in the early 19th century as a positive attribute of an endeavor or product. Law protected inventions and patents were issues on the name of the inventor.

But an invention is the first innovation within some class of objects. In other words, a new member of an already existing category of objects is an innovation, but the first of the objects within that category is an invention. The invention process covers all efforts aimed at creating new ideas and getting them to work. The cognitive, conative, and affective processes of the mind are the bases for our perceptions and for our sorting, synthesizing, categorizing, ignoring, discarding and recombining all our sensory input into new configurations.

So, for example, it seems sensible to say the following of the Wright brothers:

  • they invented the airplane
  • they designed the first airplane, and
  • they designed an airplane.

Wright Brothers First Flight: Difference between Innovation and Invention

The individuals who successfully followed the Wrights only succeeded in designing airplanes. Those individuals may have invented things in their work-components of their successful airplanes but they did not invent the airplane. The airplane—or any artifact—can only be invented once.

Thus, the processes of invention and innovation might be the same, excepting the fact that the former results in production of the first of some class of objects (i.e., the first airplane) while the latter results in additional members of the previously populated category (i.e., other airplanes). It is an empirical question as to whether the process of invention is the same as the process of innovation. Experience provides the qualities of the prototypes we employ for interpreting the present. That is, is the same process (or processes) involved in producing the first member and subsequent members of some class of objects?

Invention is not a random process but is the result of research, study or repeated attempts. Invention must be distinguished from discovery. The latter involves finding or highlighting conditions or facts still unknown. The model of the invention system and the downstream commercialization system make it possible to provide some clear answers to important questions. An invention has to be unique worldwide where as an innovation has to be unique locally, in a certain region or area.

Invention represents a worldwide novelty while innovation is a local novelty. Innovation is an improvement or a refinement while invention is a completely new entity. Society is interested in both innovation and invention as innovation is an economically viable invention that can be exploited in order to generate benefit or to obtain profit.

Innovation is a generic term, whose meaning includes both having a new idea and putting it into action. The definition of innovation used here is appropriate when discussing research in science and engineering. It includes both process and product innovations, in both the goods and services sectors. Finer shadings of these innovations into incremental vs. revolutionary, disruptive vs. sustaining is not pursued in the present discussion.

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How to Cross-Fertilize Ideas?

How to Cross-Fertilize Ideas?

Managers can kindle creativity by helping employees to cross-fertilize in their thinking, to think across subjects and disciplines. The traditional office environment often has separate classrooms and classmates for different subjects and seems to influence employees into thinking that learning occurs in discrete boxes—the math box, the social studies box, and the science box. Creative ideas and insights often result, however, from integrating material across subject areas, not from memorizing and reciting material.

Teaching employees to cross-fertilize draws on their skills, interests, and abilities, regardless of the subject. If employees are having trouble understanding math, managers might ask them to draft test questions related to their special interests. For instance, they might ask the baseball fan to devise geometry problems based on a game. The context may spur creative ideas because the student finds the topic (baseball) enjoyable and it may counteract some of the anxiety caused by geometry. Cross-fertilization motivates employees who aren’t interested in subjects taught in the abstract.

One way managers can promote cross-fertilization in the office is to ask employees to identify their best and worst professional areas. Employees can then be asked to come up with project ideas in their weak area based on ideas borrowed from one of their strongest areas. For example, managers can describe to employees that they can apply their interest in science to social studies by analyzing the scientific aspects of trends in national politics.

Allow time for Creative Thinking

Managers also need to allow employees the time to think creatively. Often, creativity requires time for incubation. Many societies today are societies in a hurry. People eat fast food, rush from one place to another, and value quickness. One way to say someone is smart is to say that the person is quick, a clear indication of an emphasis on time. This is also indicated by the format of many of the standardized tests used – lots of multiple-choice problems squeezed into a brief time slot.

Most creative insights do not happen in a rush. People need time to understand a problem and to toss it around. If employees are asked to think creatively, they need time to do it well. If managers stuff questions into their tests or give their employees more homework than they can complete, they are not allowing them time to think creatively.

Instruct and Assess for Creativity

Managers also should instruct and assess for creativity. If managers give only multiple-choice tests, employees quickly learn the type of thinking that managers value, no matter what they say. If managers want to encourage creativity, they need to include at least some opportunities for creative thought in assignments and tests.

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