#25/111: Weird Ideas that Work

What is it about?

How do you build a creative company? Do the opposite of a lot of common wisdom. Robert I. Sutton explains how companies can be more creative and why it is hard to be creative.

Key points?

Generate variance: If you want to run a company efficiently reduce variance, i.e. erase as much derivation to the norm. If you want a creative company increase variance. Build heterogeneous groups, allow people to experiment and be open.

Hire slow learners: Slow learners are people who don’t integrate them too fast into a company. Often some kind of rebels. They don’t accept the status-quo and think that things can be improved. These people often aren’t efficient but they can generate great ideas.

Fight (over ideas): If you extracted some expectant ideas initiate a fight. This probably improve the idea and increases its success.

Be open: Don’t discard strange ideas. Try to develop the strangest idea or find out the worst product you could build and do exactly the opposite. There’s a story about a Microsoft engineer who thought about the worst toy possible. It was a Barney who learn kids to count to six. Actually, some other engineer later built a speaking Barney. Although it wasn’t a blockbuster, it sold about 60k times and was awarded multiple times.


One statement is really important. Robert Sutton says that a lot of people want to work in a creative company but most of them wouldn’t like it all it. I think that’s true. However, this is a really nice book which don’t miss to show the advantages and disadvantages of a creative company. He clearly states that a company must exist of creative (exploratory) part and a efficient (exploitative) part to generate profits.

#16/111: Leading The Revolution

What is it about?

Gary Hamel writes about the future of leading a company and explains that innovation will rather come from your normal employees than from the top management. He focuses on some outstanding companies like Cemex, Schwab or UPS.

Key points?

Encourage activism: A lot of front line employees see problems that the (top) management can’t see. You have to enable every employee to share their ideas.

Build internal markets for talents, capital and ideas: A great way to allocate resources are markets. Hamel recommends to build internal markets for these components to allow people to execute their ideas.

Measure your innovation progress: If a idea seems fertile let people test it. If it succeeds let them build ventures and if this venture is successful try to spin-off or reintegrate this venture in your company. You probably have to generate lots of ideas for one successful venture, so start filling the funnel!


Leading the Revolution is a great book for its time. There are some really neat ideas like internal markets which are now successfully adapted (e.g. at Google). Furthermore, Gary Hamel understood the idea of crowdsourcing long before it became familiar.

Execute your idea, now!

(picture by qisur)

I just read about a story related to threewords.me. Mark Bao (creator of threewords.me) built his first prototype in about two days and released it. This led to an hype on facebook and shortly he got millions of visitors.

And there is the story of Brandon Watson. About one and a half years ago he wrote about a new app he wanted to build:

The app [my3words] will have user accounts, which you will need in order to leave feedback and view your own feedback.  People can enter 3 words about another person, for whom they must have their email. 

Today Brandon Watson wrote on hn:

2 years. I even registered the domain my3words.com.

What did I do with it? Not much. I have no idea if Mark saw my post or not. I kind of hope he did, so that I can feel a little better about not executing. That maybe I inspired him.

However, that doesn’t change the bottom line. He executed. Worth-ful. I had the idea, but didn’t execute. Worthless.

Hats off to Mark.

#4/111: Making Ideas Happen

What is it about?

A lot of people have ideas. But only a few execute them. Why? Scott Belsky shows that many creative minds struggle in organise themselves. He gives advice on managing oneself and use your community to help realizing your ideas. 

Key points?

If you want to execute your ideas you have to be organized. To improve or kill ideas liberally share them with your community. To finally implement your idea break it into small tasks.


I totally love this book. Besides tips for implementing ideas Scott Belsky talks a lot about other creative companies (e.g. IDEO) and shows how they successfully implement and test ideas.