#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.

#15/111: The Art of Innovation

What is it about?

The makers of Apple’s first mouse and Palm V talk about inventing new products. Tom Kelly, who is General Manager at IDEO, explains the basic principles of IDEO’s work. Each of these principles is supported by several short anecdotes.

Key points?

Build Hot Teams: The less inertia the better. Let your staff work on projects as project teams. These project teams are Hot Teams if they have one purpose and a defined deadline. After this project the Hot Team is ready to split up and build new teams with other people.

Observe: Watch people using the existing product, to explore what could be improved. What works? What doesn’t? What could be added or removed? Particularly the last one is maybe too hard to answer by its actual users. So, use your knowledge and ideas to find answers.

Brainstorm: Tom Kelly thinks that Brainstorming is more a mindset than an activity. Brainstorm often, freely and without (too much) restrictions.

Prototype:  If you build a new product, you should test it at fast and much as possible. Build some prototype and show them to your customers/boss and ask them what they like and dislike. Using this information build the next prototype and iterate.

Use verbs not nouns: Your product shouldn’t just be a thing, it should be a experience. If you think about Hawaii, you probably think of beaches, sunshine and hula girls. If you think about Volvo, you probably think of safety. It’s a experience, not just a car or an island.


This book is just terrific. Each chapter is full of different stories about the work process and life at IDEO. Furthermore, it is very well written and divided into small sub chapters. If you are a creative person you will love this book. There is so much inspiration and flow and so little bureaucracy and rules.

#9/111: :59 Seconds

What is it about?

Prof Wiseman writes about a lot of psychological misconceptions in various topics like creativity, relationships or happiness. For each of these topics he cities scientific studies, busts old myths and gives valuable tips.

Key points?

There is many great material in this book, so here is an example. You want to come up with a creative solution to a problem: You can brainstorm with a group, brainstorm alone or solve a hard word puzzle. Which one will you take? If you believe in scientific studies, the last one. Researchers have shown that brainstorming in groups decreases the quality and quantity of ideas. The best way is ask your subconsciousness. But how?

Think about your problem for some seconds. Now you have to distract your consciousness mind. E.g. try to solve a hard word puzzle. If you have finished think another some seconds about your problem and write down your solutions.


This book is just tremendous. There is so much actionable advice in this book about a bunch of different topics. The best thing: This advice got a scientific background, it is not just happy world advice. Furthermore, Richard Wiseman cities studies which shows that a lot of this self-help literature is not helping at all or is actually worsening the situation.

I have no idea

notepad by Ti.mo

Everyone has ideas, a few ones are great and some people have successfully implemented great ideas. I want to say something about collecting ideas and implementing them.

Collecting ideas is a very crucial activity. Ideas are volatile so you should write them down as soon as possible. An easy but effective tool is a pen and paper. You can comfortably put a little piece of paper and a short pencil into your wallet. That’s all.
Well, twenty little snippets with scribbles aren’t very manageable. I recommend to buy a notepad.
You have your snippets and a notepad, now you can begin to structure your idea. Write down some small sentences maybe other ideas or features in respect of your main idea. It is important that you don’t reject your idea too early!

Ideas are only imaginary, therefore you should implement them. Take a look into your notepad. Is there anything which is worth implementing?

I’ll write later about implementing ideas. Just begin your collection and collect ideas!