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Creative People Must Be Stopped: 6 Ways We Kill Innovation (Without Even Trying) Hardcover – November 22, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


Creative People Must Be Stopped is among the best books ever written about human imagination in the workplace. David Owens is a master innovator, having practiced his craft as a product designer, researcher, teacher, creativity coach, and executive.  The breadth and depth of his experience fills every page of this little gem, which is chock full of hundreds of big and little steps that you can take right now to do more creative work and to lead more innovative teams and organizations.”
Robert Sutton, Stanford Professor
Author of the New York Times bestseller
Good Boss, Bad Boss

This is no rarefied academic treatment on innovation as an abstract ideal, but a nuts and bolts handbook to dissecting our thought patterns about innovation. Owens dispels the myth that innovation is a binary trait that either exists or does not in a given product, process or business model. Creative People Must be Stopped addresses the myriad ways that novel ideas can fail in the marketplace. Working through a combination of thought experiments and real world examples, the book demonstrates how failures in understanding the context for innovation can prove every bit as deadly to progress as failures of imagination.”
Mark Rowan, President
Griffin Technology Inc.

Dave Owens has delivered the survival guide every would-be innovation team requires before entering the fracas battle of bringing ideas to life. Read ‘6 Ways We Kill Innovation’ if you are serious about making stuff and making stuff happen in this dangerous world for good ideas and the creative people who love them.”
Peter Durand, Alphachimp Studio
Leading expert in graphic facilitation

From the Inside Flap

"Why do so many organizations continue to kill good ideas and to fail in their innovation attempts despite this wealth of research and advice?"—From the Introduction

While most organizations give lip service to promoting innovation and creative ideas, they all too often sabotage "outside-the-box" thinking among the rank and file. In this book, David Owens has identified the six dominant types of constraints (individual, group, organizational, industry-wide, societal, and technological) that can keep creative new ideas from being formulated, developed into marketable products and services, or adopted by the intended users. Creative People Must Be Stopped organizes these innovation killers into a conceptual framework that demystifies what innovationis, how it happens, and how we stop it without even trying. This proven framework has been usedto diagnose the primary causesof innovation failure within hundreds of organizations that have gone onto develop strategies that foster innovation rather than stopping it in its tracks.

Filled with illustrative examples from real-world organizations, the book explores each type of constraint in detail and shows how it operates and why. This analysis is followed by a discussion of ways that particular constraints can be overcome. Every chapter concludes with a "Constraints Diagnostic Survey." These asessments are based on Owens's research and consulting work, and they provide a pointer to the most urgent and potentially limiting constraints an organization may be facing. In addition, Creative People Must Be Stopped contains an exercise tool designed to help move leaders toward action to overcome the constraints that have been identified. Owens also explores the big-picture issues that can arise when spearheading an innovation team and discusses the steps needed to help organizations become more strategic about innovation.

Creative People Must Be Stopped gives leaders the tools they need to foster an atmosphere of creativity and innovation.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (November 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118002903
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118002902
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #560,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

David A. Owens is professor of the practice of management at Vanderbilt's Graduate School of Management, where he also directs the Executive Development Institute. Specializing in innovation and new product development, he is known as a dynamic speaker and is the recipient of numerous teaching awards. He provides consulting services for a wide range of clients around the world, and his work has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, London Guardian and San Jose Mercury News, as well as on NPR's Marketplace.

Owens has consulted for NASA, The Smithsonian, Nissan LEAF, Gibson Music, American Conservatory Theater, Alcatel, Tetra Pak, Tennessee Valley Authority, Cisco, LEGO, The Henry Ford Museum and many other organizations. He has done product design work for well-known firms including Daimler Benz, Apple Computer, Dell Computer, Coleman Camping, Corning World Kitchen, Steelcase and IDEO Product Development. He has also served as CEO of Griffin Technology, a global company that specializes in iPod, iPhone, and iPad accessories.

Owens earned his Ph.D. in management science and engineering through a joint fellowship program between Stanford's Graduate School of Business and its School of Engineering. He holds an M.S. in engineering product design and is a registered professional electrical engineer (P.E). In his current work, Owens focuses on concrete strategies for creating positive change in all types of organizations.

Dave was born in Germany and is fluent in German. He currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife and two daughters.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robert S. Donovan on February 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Most books of this genre present lots of anecdotal tales depicting how some group or individual has overcome insurmountable odds to find success through innovation. These are usually rarified exceptions and it can be exceedingly difficult to make useful connections to the typical norm. In "Creative People Must Be Stopped" David Owens not only provides numerous real world anecdotes from his own experience to help illustrate the insights he has made, but he also provides actual tools you can use in your day-to-day work to help identify and overcome barriers to innovation. After reading this book I immediately started seeing the world in a whole new light and am already realizing the benefits in my work.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Bill Kottenstette on November 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a must read for anyone who has experienced situations where you have a great idea only to have various forces stifle progress on turning your idea into something real. What gives this book purpose is that it helps you understand how to work through these challenges (constraints) and push your idea forward. Using classic examples, readers should find inspiration in seeing how others have aligned their innovations and pushed for their survival in a world of resistance.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mary Ellen Hannibal on September 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
David A. Owens is a professor at Vanderbilt University's Graduate School of Business, and his whole gestalt is about helping companies make innovative products and manage themselves successfully. His book, Creative People Must Be Stopped, is a field guide to what goes wrong or gets in the way of progress. The subtitle is "6 Ways We Kill Innovation (Without Even Trying)" but he actually enumerates many more ways good intentions go off the tracks. His six broad types of "constraints" are: group, technological, individual, societal, organizational, and industry-based. Many of the problems Owens identifies and the solutions he poses are from the land of common sense; for example, in brainstorming, it is best to defer judgment, encourage wild ideas, build on the ideas of others, and stay focused on the topic. But it is very useful to have the basics outlined between two hard covers. A book like this can serve as a neutral common ground for helping disparate parties grope past the hurdles between them.

The book made me think about all the weird and bad mojo I've seen go down in various work places. I once worked at a magazine that was owned by an enormous bank. Edicts from some far off place periodically directed our pencils, but there was no face ever attached, no rationale, no follow through on results from enforced change. We had a happy time at that magazine as long as we could fly under the radar, which we tried to do all the time -- I can't imagine that was the corporate objective. I've seen two small companies crash into even littler pieces when one person in authority took down another person in authority but wasn't adequate to the task or willing to take the voided place of the one ousted.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John Gibbs on November 24, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Innovation is systematically stopped in organizations, often by the very people who say they want it and who stand to benefit from it, according to David Owens in this book. There are plenty of books containing research and advice on innovation and how to come up with good ideas, but this book aims to expose how and why good ideas are killed and innovations fail despite the wealth of research and advice.

The author says that there are six main ways in which innovations are killed:

* Individuals do not generate enough good ideas to create viable innovations
* Groups allow negative emotions to derail the process of evaluating and implementing new ideas
* Organizations find innovation threatening because they are designed to produce routine and consistent outputs
* Industries are oriented to today's market needs, and their customers are resistant to altering the economic status quo
* Society rejects or regulates new ideas that are inconsistent with prevailing norms
* New technologies have to demonstrate their effectiveness and reliability before they are adopted

The book goes on to describe in detail each of these six types of innovation constraints, ways of diagnosing which of the constraints is or are applicable to any given innovation situation, and suggestions for applying corrective action designed to overcome each of the constraints. A different diagnostic survey and a set of questions for reflection are provided for each of the six types of constraints, and an appendix gives guidance on how to use the assessment results.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Raymond King on April 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am reading this book as part of a MOSS on-line course I am taking from the author. Both the class and the book are very compelling and improving the way I look at innoviation. Well worth the time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Daryll Johnson on April 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
David Owen's provides a straightforward explanation of the constraints facing innovations. These are broken up into individual, group, organizational, industry, social, and technological constraints. Vanderbilt's Professor Owens looks at each of these in depth and provides suggestions for minimizing the negative effect of each category of constraint. A great read if you're looking to innovate in your organization or want to be an entrepreneur. Furthermore, Coursera [...] currently hosts Professor Owens' course for free. A great bargain!
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