#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.

#22/111: Eyeballs Out

What is it about?

What is life about on an aircraft carrier? And how can it be applied to business? Donna Sturgess experienced this for her own for two days and wrote about her discoveries she made.

Key points?

Create thrill: Often big organizations lack of risk-taking people. If you want to turn risk-averse people into risk-taking people you should try to create thrill. Introduce new concepts, let people take risks for themselves. This action can revitalize your company.

Immerse yourself: One key point of IDEO’s success is observing the consumer. Mrs Sturgess recommends a similar concept. You should immerse yourself into a new setting (e.g. NASCAR racing, glassblowing). This allows you to get a new vantage point which probably results into new ideas.

Use games: I really like this point. Use games – built a game-like environment. That is, you can use badges for achievements, e.g. first 100 sales, first product shipped or first marketing campaign launched. Furthermore, she proposes to use more interactive strategy games for business (maybe realtime?). It’s an vague idea but somehow really cool and exciting.

Empower young employees: Empowerment isn’t new to business but this approach is. On the USS Stennis (the aircraft carrier) the average sailor is 20 years old and they got a lot of responsibility. In companies, the average age is usually much higher. But if you don’t allow young people to learn and take responsibility, you don’t empower them.


This book is pretty short but got some really great ideas. I can’t really estimate the impact because it was published this year though I think that it can improve the business world. In conclusion, read it for yourself and decide if it is worth or not.

#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.

Implement, implement, implement.

Construction Worker Houston Texas 1 by billjacobus1

You’ve collected some ideas? Now it’s time for the second part.
Firstly, you should work out the details of your favorite idea. Draw some sketches, note down some cool features. Generally, think about it.

Secondly, check if somebody already implemented your idea. You can use Google or any other search engine. Sometimes a view at uspto.gov can be useful. So, what’s your outcome?

Somebody has already implemented your idea: You should be depressed. Yes. No, of course not. This is rather a good sign than a bad one. You know that there’s a market, there’s interest. But it doesn’t help if your current idea is very similar, perhaps the same, as the existing one. “What can be improved?” That’s the essential question.

Nobody has implemented your idea: Before you start implementing your idea, ask yourself: “Why haven’t someone implemented this idea yet?“. Maybe it’s so worse, that there’s no market or interest. Or somebody implemented it unsuccessfully. Remember: It’s harder to introduce a new concept than go with an established one.