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Weird Ideas That Work: 11 1/2 Practices for Promoting, Managing, and Sustaining Innovation

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A breakthrough in management thinking, “weird ideas” can help every organization achieve a balance between sustaining performance and fostering new ideas. To succeed, you need to be both conventional and counterintuitive.

Creativity, new ideas, innovation—in any age they are keys to success. Yet, as Stanford professor Robert Sutton explains, the standard rules of business behavior and management are precisely the opposite of what it takes to build an innovative company. We are told to hire people who will fit in; to train them extensively; and to work to instill a corporate culture in every employee. In fact, in order to foster creativity, we should hire misfits, goad them to fight, and pay them to defy convention and undermine the prevailing culture. Weird Ideas That Work codifies these and other proven counterintuitive ideas to help you turn your workplace from staid and safe to wild and woolly—and creative.

In Weird Ideas That Work Sutton draws on extensive research in behavioral psychology to explain how innovation can be fostered in hiring, managing, and motivating people; building teams; making decisions; and interacting with outsiders. Business practices like "hire people who make you uncomfortable" and "reward success and failure, but punish inaction," strike many managers as strange or even downright wrong. Yet Weird Ideas That Work shows how some of the best teams and companies use these and other counterintuitive practices to crank out new ideas, and it demonstrates that every company can reap sales and profits from such creativity.

Weird Ideas That Work is filled with examples, drawn from hi- and low-tech industries, manufacturing and services, information and products. More than just a set of bizarre suggestions, it represents a breakthrough in management thinking: Sutton shows that the practices we need to sustain performance are in constant tension with those that foster new ideas. The trick is to choose the right balance between conventional and "weird"—and now, thanks to Robert Sutton's work, we have the tools we need to do so.

240 pages, ebook

First published January 1, 2001

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About the author

Robert I. Sutton

21 books211 followers
Robert Sutton is Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford and a Professor of Organizational Behavior, by courtesy, at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Sutton studies innovation, leaders and bosses, evidence-based management, the links between knowledge and organizational action, and workplace civility. Sutton’s books include Weird Ideas That Work: 11 ½ Practices for Promoting, Managing, and Sustaining Innovation, The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Firms Turn Knowledge into Action (with Jeffrey Pfeffer), and Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-Based Management (also with Jeffrey Pfeffer). His most recent book is the New York Times and BusinessWeek bestseller The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t. His next book, Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best … and Survive the Worst, which will be published in September 2010 by Business Plus.

Professor Sutton’s honors include the award for the best paper published in the Academy of Management Journal in 1989, the Eugene L. Grant Award for Excellence in Teaching, selection by Business 2.0 as a leading “management guru” in 2002, and the award for the best article published in the Academy of Management Review in 2005. Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense was selected as the best business book of 2006 by the Toronto Globe and Mail. His latest book, The No Asshole Rule, won the Quill Award for the best business book of 2007. Sutton was named as one of 10 “B-School All-Stars” by BusinessWeek in 2007, which they described as “professors who are influencing contemporary business thinking far beyond academia.” Sutton is a Fellow at IDEO and a member of the Institute for the Future’s board of directors. Especially dear to his heart is the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, which everyone calls “the Stanford d.school.” He is a co-founder of this multi-disciplinary program, which teaches, practices, and spreads “design thinking.” His personal blog is Work Matters, at www.bobsutton.net.

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