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The Innovation Killer: How What We Know Limits What We Can Imagine — and What Smart Companies Are Doing About It – Book Review

Effective Living


Summary. Creativity and innovation are essential to inventing and discovering better ways of working and living. Cynthia Barton Rabe explains how to foster creativity for business effectiveness in her book Innovation Killer.

Rabe states, “Look for people with renaissance-thinker tendencies, who’ve done work in a related area but not in your specific field… Make it possible for someone who doesn’t report directly to that area to come in and say the emperor has no clothes.” [New York Times, 20071230su]

From the product description on Amazon:

For true innovation, you may need to think outside the box-and outside the company. Innovation is vital to the success of an organization. But often, “GroupThink” and “ExpertThink” stifle new ideas. This book presents the idea of using outsiders-people who are not a permanent part of a particular group or constrained by its preconceptions-to stimulate innovation. They may be employees from other parts of the company, consultants, or even people borrowed through “swaps” with other, noncompeting companies. These outsiders share three characteristics:

  • related expertise: knowledge without the burden of “the way we’ve always done it”
  • renaissance tendencies: varied interests and experiences, with the ability to put ideas together in new and useful combinations
  • psychological distance: they are not tied to the hierarchy of the group, making it easier to propose unpopular ideas

Outsiders can help defeat the kind of thinking that can overcome teams and kill true innovation. The author reveals how to find and work with the right people and shows, through fascinating real-world examples, the huge difference they can make.

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com