Leading Innovation: 21 Things that Great Bosses Believe and Do

WORK MATTERS: Bob Sutton

21 Things that Great Bosses Believe and Do

1. Creativity means doing new things with old ideas.

2. Treat innovation as an import-export business.  Keep trying to bring in ideas from outside your group or organization, keep trying to show and tell others about your ideas, and blend them all together.

3. Look for and build “intersections” places where people with diverse ideas gather together. And when you go there, talk to the people you don’t know, who have ideas you know nothing about, and ideas you find weird, don’t like, or useless.

4.  Treat your beliefs as “strong opinions, weakly held.”

5. Learn how to listen, watch, and keep your mouth shut.

6.  Say “I don’t know” on a regular basis.

7.  Have the courage to act on what you know, and the humility to doubt your beliefs and actions.

8. Reward success and (intelligent) failure, but punish inaction.

9. Make it safe for people to take risky actions and “fail forward,” by developing a “forgive and remember culture.”

10. Encourage people to learn from others’ failures – it is faster, easier, and less painful.

11. Eliminate hiring and reward practices that reinforce cultures where “the best you can be is a perfect imitation of those who came before you.”

12. Hire people who make your squirm.

13. Create teams composed of both experts and novices.

14. Make it safe for people to fight as if they are right, and listen as if they wrong.

15. Encourage your people to be “happy worriers.”

16.  Sometimes, the best management is no management at all.  Know when and how to get out of the way.

17. Have the confidence and resolve to make tough decisions, stop your people from whining about the decisions made, and to get on with implementing them.

18. Kill a lot of ideas, including a lot of good ideas.

19.  Innovation entails creativity + implementation.  Developing or finding a great idea is useless if you can’t implement it or sell it to someone who believes they can.

20. Remember Rao’s Recipe for Innovation: Will +Ideas + Tools.

21. Innovation requires selling your ideas. The greatest innovators, from Edison to Jobs, are gifted at generating excitement and sales.  If you can’t or won’t sell, team-up with someone who can.

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