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Learning Nugget 18 - Your Future as a Non-Conformist

Middle Management are the Custodians of the Status Quo. ASPIRE! Group

For years we have said that the very top of an organisation desperately wants change. The front line of an organisation also desperately wants change. But the middle managers are being pulled 6 ways to sunday. Thus the status quo is safer then breaking the invisble shackles.

Adam Grant is considered one of the most forward thinkers of our time. Just this month, less than 2 weeks ago, Adam published his latest book. Originals, How Non-Conformists move the world. Originals is about how to champion new ideas and fight groupthink. Using surprising studies and stories spanning business, politics, sports, and entertainment, Grant explores how to recognize a good idea, speak up without getting silenced, build a coalition of allies, choose the right time to act, and manage fear and doubt; how parents and teachers can nurture originality in children; and how leaders can build cultures that welcome dissent.

Below is an 18 min video interview with Adam. Absolutely well worth the investment of time as Adam explains the key premise of the book and some great stories of how to become more creative and how to challenge the status quo. Also as leaders how you can drive greater creativity and ideation to massively grow your innovation efforts.

There is some amazing quotes in this video, I've just got three that I found really profound:

  1. Generate more ideas....the first 15-20 ideas are way less original than the next 15-20....the first 15 are conventional, more like the status quo

  2. Stop hiring on cultural fit......hire on culural contribution (which includes diversity of thought)

  3. Originals don't have to be first. they just have to be different and better

I love the idea of a "kill the Company' reverse brainstorming session. That's awesome

Adam poses some thoughts for us the reader on his website. Questions that you can pose to yourself, to create deep thinking about your desire, passion, abaility to be creative and become a non-conformist.

  1. Who are your role models for originality and non-conformity? What can you learn from them

  2. When you’re dissatisfied with a situation, how do you typically respond: neglect, persistence, exit or voice? How would you like to respond?

  3. To speak truth to power, we often need to gain status first. What steps can you take to earn the license to challenge authority?

  4. Originals maximize their odds of creating a masterpiece by coming up with a large number of ideas. How do you know when you’ve generated enough possibilities? Is there such a thing as too many idees

  5. How did your upbringing and experiences in school influence your originality? How can you apply those insights to helping children learn to think differently?

  6. What is one default practice or common belief in your organization or industry that deserves to be questioned?

  7. We gain access to new ideas by broadening our perspectives—scientists get involved in art, and fashion designers take assignments in foreign countries. If you were going to immerse yourself in something new, what would it be?

  8. Originals are rarely the first movers; more often, they procrastinate and show up fashionably late to the party. How can you resist the urge to rush the creative process, and make sure you give your ideas enough time to incubate?

  9. Original ideas are easier to accept when they’re tied to something familiar, like pitching The Lion King as Hamlet with lions. How can you connect one of your ideas to something that people already understand?

  10. Welcoming criticism can be hard. How can you become comfortable enough to receiveconstructive feedback? How can you encourage others to dissent productively?

  11. What are some strategies for uncovering natural skeptics who can help you question your ideas and thinking?

  12. How balanced is your risk portfolio? In what areas of your work or life can you be extra- cautious to give yourself the freedom to pursue an original project elsewhere?

  13. What are the obstacles to speaking up in your organization? What could you do to invite more voices into the conversation?

  14. What emotions do you feel when thinking about speaking up—fear, excitement, enthusiasm, doubt, etc.? What could you do to better manage or harness your emotions?

  15. Our biggest supporters aren’t always the people who liked us from day one; they are sometimes the people who started against us and then came around. Do you have any of those people in your life? How might you convert an enemy into an ally?

  16. If you challenge the status quo, what’s the worst that will happen?

  17. When you’re feeling afraid or anxious about making a suggestion or sharing a new idea, how can you convert those feelings into enthusiasm and excitement?

  18. Have you noticed any differences between women and men in originality? Between different industries or the public, private, and social sectors?

  19. What can you do to help other people champion their original ideas?

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