Be The Kind of Non-Conformist Who Successfully Innovates With Others

You may be surprised by the counter-intuitive ways that we can successfully champion ideas with others at work and home, yet swayed by the research and captivating examples in Originals by New York Times Op-Ed writer and popular Wharton psychology professor Adam Grant. Perhaps these questions, answered in his book, and his 15-question quiz will sway you to read it.

Q. Assuming that parents decide to give children the freedom to be original, what does it take to foster a sense of right and wrong?

Hints: When should parents talk about doing the right thing and what wording should they use when they ask their child to do the right thing? Pages 167 to 174.

Q. What is a proven way to efficiently involve all employees suggesting and selecting what innovations are most beneficial to implement?

Hint: Eyewear retailer, Warby Parker used this approach in a way that was transparent to all employees, and used a voting process that enabled technology teams to overrule managers at times to work on an idea to prove its value. That way, “They don’t wait for permission to start building something”, applied psychology expert Reb Rebele, told Adam Grant. “But they gather feedback from peers before rolling things out to peers and customers.” Pages 57 to 59.

Q. What collective method of rethinking how to proceed on a project can often avoid a failure and sometimes spur a greater success?

Hint: Rob Minkoff, the director of The Lion King, and Maureen Donley, a producer, serendipitously experienced that method and were then able to rewrite the storyline, turning the movie into the highest-grossing film of 1994, winning two Oscars and a Golden Globe. Stanford creativity expert, Justin Berg, explained to Adam Grant how that illuminating interaction saved the movie. Page 135.

Q. What is the key value/behavior, often missed, when leaders want their employees to be intensely committed to a shared set of values and norms?

Hint: The Bay of Pigs debacle reflects the damage that can happen without that trait. Page 190.

Q. What is the first error that companies make when trying to institute major changes according to Harvard professor John Kotter?

Hint: Executives underestimate how hard it can be to drive people out o their comfort zones. Page 232.

Q. If you want people to modify their behavior is it better to highlight the benefits of their changing or the costs of not changing?

Hint: It depends on whether they perceive the new behavior as safe or risky according to Peter Salovey, “one of the originators of the concept of emotional intelligence, and now president of Yale.” Pages 233 to 236.

Q. Are agreeable or disagreeable employees more valuable in enabling an organization to make needed changes?

Related insights once you learn how to be more valuable:

Practice The Exposure Effect: offer multiple, short exposures to your idea, mixed in with other ideas, with pauses in between those exposures to spur others’ acceptance of your new idea.

See how former deputy director of intelligence at the CIA, Carmen Medina, as she got promoted, faced the wall of the “middle-status conformity” effect. Pages 77 to 84.