What we know limits what we can imagine

Have you ever been in a brainstorming session to come up with the next great product that puts your company on top of the list of innovative companies?Innovation Killer

How successful was that session?
Why do you think that is?

Cynthia Barton Rabe explains how to foster creativity for business effectiveness in her book Innovation Killer.

The title of her book refers to the most common barriers to innovation:

  • practitioners of GroupThink (“the strongest force on earth”) and
  • ExpertThink (“GroupThink on steroids”).

They establish and then vigorously defend all manner of “filters” to diminish if not “kill” any perceived threats to the status quo.

Rabe concedes that Zero-Gravity Thinkers aren’t a “magic solution” to such barriers because “there is no cure-all for a stuck-in-the mud organization.” However, they are a high-value tool when recognizing and then responding effectively to the aforementioned “filters.”

Innovation Killer 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 3 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.

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