Friday, September 8, 2017

Originals by Adam Grant

Adam Grant is one of the popular writers of our time. In this book, he focuses on Originals who are some kind of non-conformists (perhaps from the stand point of widely accepted world views) that are changing the world.

Incredibly, he dedicates one full chapter in this book to Procrastination. He claims that this commonly hated vice is useful when it comes to the question of creativity albeit it is a sworn enemy of productivity. Actually, I did follow the prescription by delaying this post for more than a quarter :-).

He is a master in introducing terms which are relatively unused in interesting ways, for example,Vujade (opposite of Dejavu) which means look at the familiar situation in a new light and so on.

The points he adduces are also equally compelling. Couple of examples.

1.  When parents encourage their children to develop strong values, they effectively limit their influence:  When Winstead went public with her rebellion political views, her father quipped: "I messed it up. I raised you to have an opinion and I forgot to tell you that, it was supposed to be mine!".

2. "Appeal to the Character rather than behavior”. For example, instead of saying "Please don't cheat" say, “Please don't be a cheater". When the emphasis shifts from behavior to character, people evaluate their choices differently. Instead of asking if the behavior will achieve the results they want, they take the action because that is the right thing to do. It is like if somebody is drowning, you don't ask which god but tend to just jump and save.

He cites, more diversified the exposure, greater the chance of better idea(s) selection in future. Gives examples of Edison, Galileo kind of luminaries - chronologically , they are far too much in the rear view mirror to be germane for us, yet I will take the examples with more than a pinch of salt. I personally think we are in "deep dive" era where occasionally lateral exposures would come handy and perhaps make a good story. 

Interestingly, he gives examples of how artistic hobby and correlates to of winning  Nobel Prize. Music (2x), Drawing, Painting (7x), Modelling, Mechanics (12x), Performing arts, Magic (22x). For example, someone who is practicing magic is 22 times more likely to win the Nobel assuming he/she also focused on the main job!

Sure enough, no management book can escape one matrix (usually 2x2). Here, he discusses four options (1) Exit (2) Voice (3) Neglect (4) Persistence based on change/maintain the situation (Vector-1) and Beneficial/Detrimental to the organization (Vector-2). The discussions thereof are very good.

In the long run, we always regret the errors of omission rather than commission. If we were to run our lives again, he strongly feels we would censor less. I tend to agree with him on opportunities but not sure about people interactions or let us say spirituality - anyway, we get the message.

This book with all the wonderful snippets, gives us a good approximation of the ORIGINALS and how they are only subtly different from the rest - not vastly different. It is a warm and comfy feeling.

Scot Adams famously said, "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes - Art is knowing which ones to keep". So, with many examples, you need to artistically navigate to decide which ones to keep.

Thanks for reading this far.


1. TED Talks by Adam Grant.

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