Books & Reviews

    Organizational Creativity, A Practical Guide for Innovators & Entrepreneurs

    51Lut31Zs7L._SX402_BO1,204,203,200_Book Review of:

    Organizational Creativity, A Practical Guide for Innovators & Entrepreneurs

    I read the literature associated with creativity and innovation. Can you hear me snoring? I don’t review most of them because I’d have to pan them. They are consistently boring, dry, and wonky. At the end of the day many books in the genre are, weirdly, not very creative.

    I’m happy to report that I’ve read a new creativity book that is quite dynamic.

    Organizational Creativity, A Practical Guide for Innovators & Entrepreneurs, by Gerard Puccio, John F. Cabra and Nathan Schwagler* is a breath of fresh air. It’s dense with fascinating and fresh information about innovation. As claimed in the title, it really is practical, and indeed, it is a lovely guide for real world work. Clearly, this is a book that was written with actual usage by real life entrepreneurs and innovators in mind. If you are interested in organizational creativity I’d be hard pressed to suggest a better book. Here’s why I think so:

    • It’s current. The examples used in the book aren’t the same old case studies, and they’re spot on for the points being made.
    • It’s creative, in the artistic sense. Love the Salvador Dali illustrations, the book has a story-ish arc, the examples and case studies are fun to read.
    • It’s truly practical. If you’re a business leader and innovator you learn what you need to know to be more creatively effective.
    • It’s accurate. As academic writers the authors have paid close attention to citing the research to back up their ideas and information. This book dispels myths.
    • It’s deep. Not many books get into the details of things like “conceptual combinations.” This book goes beyond being a primer; this is advanced content.
    • It’s easy to read. This is a textbook, but it doesn’t act like it, it flows nicely.
    • It’s designed for actual learning. They use a Knowing-Doing-Being learning model in every chapter. Readers can integrate information immediately.

    The definition of creativity is sometimes put as “novelty that’s useful.” By that definition, Organizational Creativity is creative. The combination of the above listed factors make for a new approach that is highly useful for the target reader. Potentially, this book is used not only in creativity and entrepreneurship/innovation courses, but also leadership. The tools and ways of being suggested by the book are foundational to effective leadership. This book feels more personal than it’s academic title. It feels like it’s written for you — as a person. That tone is hard to find in a textbook.

    Overall, this is just well done.

    My nitpicks are few. I would have wished for even more visuals and for a full color book, but I understand keeping color out makes the book more affordable. The books orientation towards an individual means that you have to figure out how to apply the learning beyond yourself — that is, to those organizations you create, lead, or manage. That direction is less explicit in this book, but it’s there. My final nitpick is that mundane thing, price. At 58.98 it’s fair to say this is a pricey book. It’s worth it — you could  build an entire course around it — but I’m hoping they can bring that price down over time.

    So, pick up this book and settle in with a nice glass of wine, or a notebook and pen, you will learn. And that’s a good thing.

    *************************

    *Full disclosure, I know all three authors fairly well, and I consider them colleagues. I’ve collaborated directly with Puccio and Schwagler on actual innovation projects or presentations. Having said that, these ties go back years and I do not have a current business relationship with any of them. We are all colleagues and leaders at the annual Creative Problem Solving Institute conference (aka “Cipsee”) — see: www.cpsiconference.com

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    Reading Widely Means More Dots to Connect

    People ask me what I read. I think this question is inspired by my citing some arcane fact or that I make a weird connection now and then. I am a voracious reader, but I think what I actually read might surprise. Most of it is NOT directly about creativity and innovation (that’s a way to guarantee you’re boring!) Reading widely provides more dots to connect. Broadly, I’m thinking I’m improving my database by reading a lot of varied and weird content. There is some science to this; one can make more conceptual blends if one has more to blend. And, concept blending, new connections, are where innovation comes from. So, this is a snapshot of what I’m reading, for




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    Luke Williams at World Innovation Forum (a review)

    The following is a review of Luke Williams talk at the recent World Innovation Forum. Roving reporter and colleague Dr. Orin Davis gives Luke high marks as both a speaker/entertainer, AND as an innovation expert, high praise indeed. I’d not heard of Luke Williams, apparently he’s a fellow at Frog Design, an author, and a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business. I’m putting his “Disrupt” on my reading list. Here’s Orin’s report: ************** Disrupt Yourself!  Luke Williams at the World Innovation Forum by Orin Davis, Phd I note in jest that what Luke Williams primarily proved at his WIF talk is that showing pictures of babies doing really cute things, like trying to dance to Beyoncé’s “All the Single Ladies,” gets




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    The Value of a “Cross Domain” View

      Dr. Orin Davis (@DrOrinDavis) has written up two more short pieces — essentially his reflections from the talks of Rebecca Henderson and Dan Pink at the recent World Innovation Forum. His comments on Pink are somewhat provocative, so, be aware I do not share Orin’s views exactly. Orin is a well read academic (and practitioner as well) and he knows a lot about the wide array of literature that exists for creativity and innovation — that’s why I’ m publishing his insightful work here. His critique of Pink is interesting to me because I was not aware of who Pink borrows from, and, if he is borrowing faithfully to the original research. That said, I think there’s a real value for people




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    When Culture Matters…for Innovation

    Back in those glory days at the University of Cincinnati, I was assigned a lovely little textbook to read for Freshman English class called “The Elements of Style” (by E.B. White and William Strunk). In a nutshell it’s all about how to write clearly. It provides succinct advice with spot-on examples. It’s a smallish book which easily fits into your jacket pocket. I read it, used it, and have refferred to it hundreds of times over the years. I treasure that slim little book. I’ve just found a similar treasure — but having to do with cross-cultural communications.  It’s official title is When Culture Matters, the 55 minute guide to better cross-cultural communication, by Indy Neogy.* True to its title,




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    Amping Ideas, Two EZ Innovation Tools

    Guerilla Innovation Chapter Nine You have to amp those ideas before you start marketing and selling. If you are in before-start-up mode, even more reason to AMP like mad. The refined or amped up idea might just get you to that elusive Point of Difference we talked about. It’s not enough to have a great idea. I’m not making light of the effort one must make to get to a breakthrough idea, but if you’re an entrepreneur, really, a great idea is only what you need to get to the starting line. The early going in the business race is about “insanely great” ideas (thank you Steve Jobs). Good ideas are  normally “out of the medals” at the end of




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    Stimuli, Scaffolding, Seeing — for Innovative Ideas

    Guerilla Innovation Chapter Eight Everything is Stimuli for Scaffolding to Better Ideas In my last post I introduced you to the concept of “Scaffolding”. For those who are starting here, it’s essentially a thinking tool to take your mind to a new place — an aid in the objective of coming up with an innovative idea for your small business. It might even be The Innovative Idea that starts a new business (hopefully with the clear point of difference I talked about in Chapter One (Even a Pizza Shop Has a Point of Difference) of this online “blogged book.” In order to take your innovation thinking (particularly in this idea generation phase) to the next level, you need to combine




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    Scaffolding — Thinking Monkey Bars for SmallBiz

    Guerrilla Innovation Chapter Seven Scaffolding — Thinking Monkey Bars for Small Business Small business people, aka, Guerrilla Innovators, you’re now looking for a unique business idea. This ain’t brainstorming, it’s Scaffolding. Just for fun maybe we call it Idea Generation Monkey Bars for Small Business. It’s a method to get to great ideas one thinking notch up at a time. I’ve been told that the term “Scaffolding” is used in the psychology and education fields. I first heard the term used by my partner with regard to idea generation — and it immediately struck me as a helpful way to look at things. Let me explain how Scaffolding works. Innovators, get out your Notebooks and start Notebooking. Breakthrough ideas are




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    Ideas Aren’t Innovation

    Guerilla Innovation Chapter Six Ideas Aren’t Innovation Ideas are not Innovation — and it’s interesting how often “idea people” think that having a good idea is enough. Ideas need development and implementation — get that done and you’ve still got to run the business. If you’re a start-up you’ll need to hire a team of people, raise funds, market your idea, sell it, and somehow profit from it. Team building, fund raising, operations — these are all essential and they all contribute to the innovation puzzle. I’ll touch on them later in Guerilla Innovation (this online book) but, this book is primarily about innovation — that component of a business where value is created. And creation is an awful lot




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    Extroverts Need Love Too

    The buzz around Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The power of Introverts in a World That Just Can’t Stop Talking continues to build. Watching her speak here in London last week it’s clear she’s hit a cultural chord. As of today, #33 on the Amazon chart. Introverts clearly have a tough time making themselves heard. She’s also quite right that extroverts tend to dominate the group processes we see in various organizations. Cain emphasizes solitary work and reflection, and no doubt, there is not enough of either. I’m not sure she understands that with proper training and facilitation, and just good listening skills, a lot of the challenges she identifies for introverts can be overcome. The value of group work and collaborative




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