The book “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move The World” is chock-full with lessons on original thinking and implementing change. Written by Adam Grant, an Organizational Psychologist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, you’ll find that he draws liberally on insights from psychology studies and famous success stories to make a compelling case for readers, similar to what you might find in a Malcom Gladwell book. It is applicable for small tech companies to established giants, and especially entrepreneurs or those seeking to bring about new improvements or ideas to an organization.
I’ve written a short summary sentence along with some of my favorite quotes and takeaways, but for the full list you can check out the google doc here, enjoy! https://goo.gl/d1isPd
Thinking of and recognizing original ideas
The way evaluate our own ideas as well as others, and the causes of false positives and negatives.
- People’s opinions of themselves or their ideas are always subject to confirmation bias. People rate their ideas and probability of success 40% higher than that of their peers.
- Seinfeld was initially rejected by all industry execs but one, and people never thought that buying glasses online would fly until Warby Parker proved otherwise.
- People that downloaded Chrome on their computer rather than accepting the default browser performed significantly better on the job – they didn’t accept the default program and proactively chose to challenge the default.
- Entrepreneurs are significantly more risk averse than the general population.
- Larry page and Sergey Brin almost didn’t start Google because they were worried about their futures in PhD research, they initially tried to sell Google for less than $2 million.
- A creative mindset is 50% more accurate than a managerial one at identifying successful ideas.
- Involvement in the arts such as writing, acting, dancing, and magic makes you 12-22x more likely to end up winning a Nobel prize.
Why timing is a driver of success
How procrastination is often used as an important tool for idea development, and a market’s readiness for change.
- People who procrastinate and give their mind time to engage in divergent thinking, produce 30% more creative results.
- MLK never had “I have a dream” in his written speech, he winged it starting at that point.
- The problems we try to solve are not that complex when you boil it down, but because we typically don’t take the time to do so, our solutions usually are.
- First movers are six times more likely to fail than followers.
- Three out of four startups fail because if premature scaling – making investments that the market isn’t yet ready to support.
Keys to identifying and forming alliances
What makes us more or less likely to form an alliance with another person or group, and how to think about your relationships.
- The more strongly you identify with an extreme group, the harder you seek to differentiate yourself from more moderate groups that threaten your values.
- Shared execution tactics are an important predictor of alliances, even if they care about different causes.
- For insiders, the key representative of the group is the person who is most central and connected, however, for outsiders, the person who has the most extreme views is perceived as the representative.
- Ambivalent relationships are unhealthier than negative ones. It takes more emotional energy and coping resources to deal with people that are inconsistent.
How personal identity plays into divergent thinking
Things that make us inherently more likely to engage in original thinking, and why we take significantly more action on something if our reputation is at stake.
- Younger brothers were 10 times more likely than their older siblings to attempt to steal a base. Laterborns tend to have a higher propensity to take risks because of their upbringing.
- People are much more likely to take an action when that action is tied to their identity. For instance: “don’t cheat” vs. “don’t be a cheater”.
- It’s much easier to link our agendas to familiar values that people already hold. Instead of assuming that others share our principles, our trying to convince them to adopt ours, we should present our values as a means of pursuing theirs.
Fostering originality in groups
Examples of how openness to feedback (or lack thereof), caused the downfall or some companies like Polaroid, or conversely, is a core strength of the Bridgewater hedge fund.
- The commitment hiring blueprint has the lowest failure rate for startups, followed by the star blueprint and then the professional blueprint. The commitment, star, and professional blueprints make up 14 percent, 9 percent, and 31 percent of hiring.
- Social bonds don’t cause groupthink, overconfidence and reputational concerns do.
- Bridgewater reverses the standard of voicing opinions in your job – in most organizations people only give negative feedback beyond closed doors, and are often punished for raising dissent. At Bridgewater they’re evaluated on whether they speak up an, and can be fired for failing to challenge the status quo.
- Prioritizing values and principles is important because the relative importance of multiple values guides action.
The role of emotions as a change agent
Converting debilitating emotions to action enablers, and framing change in a way that agrees with our natural inclination to avoid risk.
- Reframing anxiety as excitement increases results by 50%.
- When we’re anxious, the unknown is more terrifying than the negative.
- The easiest way to encourage non-conformity is to introduce a single dissenter.
- When options are framed as gains, 4 out of 5 people choose the safe option that lets us hold onto and protect what we have. Conversely, if options are framed by what they will lose, we’re willing to do whatever it takes to avoid that loss, and 4 out of 5 people will choose the riskier option, taking a gamble that it will significantly reduce our losses.
- Superb presentations start by establishing what is: here’s the status quo. Then, they compare that to what could be, making that gap as big as possible.
- When we’re angry at others we aim for retaliation or revenge. But when we’re angry for others, we seek out justice and a better system.
For my full list of quotes and takeaways, you can download the google doc here!
—> https://goo.gl/d1isPd <—
You can also listen to the podcast with the author from Andreessen Horowitz at https://a16z.com/2016/02/02/originals/