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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining stories, but implementation is up to you, December 13, 2000
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This review is from: Corporate Creativity: How Innovation & Improvement Actually Happen (Paperback)
"That was interesting, but I'm not clear how to put it to use." As with many business books, I suspect many readers will have this reaction to Corporate Creativity. The book does a marvelous job of entertaining the reader with stories and examples of creativity. The authors should be applauded for digging out the buried true details of corporate creativity. (The section on the Soviet Stakhanovite movement alone yields a historical lesson worth the price of the book.) On the negative side of the ledger, I found two major flaws: analytical weakness in discussions of some central concepts, and a relative neglect of how to apply the principles to your organization. The chapter on the relationship between creativity and intelligence exemplifies the book's analytical weakness. The authors cite research claiming to demonstrate the absence of any significant link between risk-taking and creativity. But they fail clearly to explain what they mean by "risk" and do not distinguish it from recklessness. Creativity does require taking risks, even if that means the psychological risks of being wrong, or feeling embarrassed. This chapter does include some surprising and important results. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are distinguished then several studies brought out to make the point that extrinsic motivation in the form of rewards encourages people to take the quickest and surest route to a goal, but not necessarily the most creative. While stimulating and important, this discussion of motivation is not entirely convincing. Clearly, intrinsic motivation is the gold standard, but the authors go too far in slighting extrinsic motivation (whether bonuses, stock options, prizes, etc.). The authors offer six principles of corporate creativity: Alignment, self-initiated activity, unofficial activity, serendipity, diverse stimuli, within-company communication. They illustrate each of these with numerous entertaining stories, but the lessons learned and how to apply them are relegated to a couple of pages at the end of each chapter. This book would provide much more value by trading off some story-telling for more implementation planning. Sometimes the authors provide at least a primer on implementing their six principles. For example, they briefly offer five characteristics of a system that promotes self-initiated activity: The system must reach everyone; the system must be easy to use; the system must have strong follow-through; the system must document ideas; and the system must be based on intrinsic motivation. Their first, and perhaps most crucial principle is alignment, defined as "the degree to which the interests and actions of every employee support the organization's key goals". Yet, despite numerous fascinating examples, the reader is left without much idea of how to ensure alignment. Other books, such as Geoffrey Moore's Living on the Fault Line, do a better job of showing how to align organizations and their cultures in ways specific to their marketplace. Overall, anyone concerned with corporate creativity will benefit by skimming the book, focusing on the end-of-chapter summaries and working out for themselves how to implement these principles.
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