Three Major Assumptions About Creativity Our Latest Book Club Read Shatters

by | May 29, 2020 | Books, Self-Leadership, Managing Teams

What if you had the power to think of bold, innovative ideas that changed the world? Here’s some good news: you do. Everyone has the capability. Adam Grant’s Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World instills confidence in readers to be original thinkers by sharing steps to ensure ideas are successful while shattering assumptions about the Steve Jobs of the world. Given the ongoing uncertainty we’re all experiencing, adapting and getting creative with our jobs, relationships, entertainment, etc. has never been more necessary. For the Sanger team, Originals has become a resource as we strategize how to creatively adapt and enhance our programs for unpredictable circumstances. 

Here are three major takeaways we hope inspire you:

1. Originality doesn’t require extreme risk
Grant debunks the timeless myth that originality requires deep expertise and extreme risk using the example of Warby Parker, whose co-founders stayed in their unrelated day jobs even after launching an online eyewear business. We often assume that individuals who are risk-takers and go “all in” on an idea will automatically see more success. However, studies show the exact opposite. “Entrepreneurs who kept their day jobs had 33 percent lower odds of failure than those who quit,” Grant explains. “Having a sense of security in one realm gives us the freedom to be original in another.”

2. Unassigned devil’s advocates are more effective
In a recent project management class, I was taught that you should always appoint a devil’s advocate to challenge and test the strength of an idea. Grant challenges that teaching and encourages readers to unearth a true devil’s advocate instead. He explains that individuals who are appointed devil’s advocates are essentially role-playing and therefore, “won’t argue forcefully or consistently enough for the minority viewpoint, and group members are less likely to take them seriously.” Devil’s advocates are truly effective when they believe in their dissenting opinion. The sincerity and forcefulness of an unearthed devil’s advocate challenges teammates to doubt themselves. However, the right culture must be in place for true devil’s advocates to be unearthed. If people aren’t willing to speak up for fear of criticism or hostility, they won’t, and instead, they will succumb to the dominant opinion, eliminating diversity of thought.

3. Only fools rush in
“If you ain’t first, you’re last” might be applicable in the context of NASCAR racing; however, when looking to launch an innovative product or service, you’re better off settling for anything but first place. American culture strongly encourages pioneers or those who have a first-mover advantage, pressuring individuals to introduce products, services, and technologies ahead of their competitors. Grant brings to light the fact that companies who launch after a market has already been established (aka settlers) are almost 40% less likely to fail than first-movers. “Being original doesn’t require being first. It just means being different and better,” Grant explains. Settlers tend to be more successful than pioneers because they are able to easily adapt and learn from the successes and failures of pioneers.

The idea of delaying can also be applied to creative thinking. When you delay or procrastinate on a relatively creative task, it stays active in your mind and “you buy yourself more time to engage in divergent thinking rather than focusing on one particular idea,” Grant says. Next time you want to beat yourself up for procrastinating, embrace it instead and your subconscious will most likely reward you!

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World
by Adam Grant