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Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

What if everything you know about creativity and innovation is wrong?  What if incentives can actually hinder innovation?  What if brainstorming is not the best way to generate new ideas?  And most importantly what makes some companies and individuals more innovative than others?

All these questions and more are addressed in David Burkus’ upcoming book: The Myths of Creativity – The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas.

As someone who is passionate about innovation, I believe idea generation and creativity can differentiate good companies from great ones.  Innovation makes common sense to me.  Innovative companies are open to new ideas and continually challenge the status quo, turning their ideas into new successes.  Yet so many companies struggle with the concept of innovation and how to create a culture which successfully fosters creative output.  Given my passion around innovation, I was fortunate to be selected to be a part of the book launch team for The Myths of Creativity, which demystifies the processes which drive innovation.

In the Myths of Creativity, Burkus debunks 10 common innovation myths and describes how companies and individuals can act on the truths behind these myths to increase their creative output.  Myths analyzed include:

  • The Eureka Myth: Creative insights happen in a flash
  • The Expert Myth: Innovative solutions come from highly trained experts
  • The Incentive Myth: The more incentives given, the more innovation can be achieved
  • The Brainstorming Myth: Brainstorming is needed to achieve creative ideas
  • The Mousetrap Myth: If you have a great idea, the world will jump onboard

Interested in learning more about how your company can create an innovative culture where the best ideas, projects, processes and programs can be identified and achieved?  Or how you can become more innovative?  Check out the preview video of the Myths of Creativity below and consider pre-ordering the book on Amazon.

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I first found out about Greg Blencoe’s book The Supermanager when I stumbled across some of his blog posts.  I enjoyed the posts and connected with him on Twitter.  He subsequently visited my blog and over the last few months he has been a great supporter and shared many of my posts.  I was thrilled when he offered to send me a copy of his book to review, as in honesty given my enjoyment of his blog posts, I would have in time purchased the book anyway.

Greg was previously CEO of Hydrogen Discoveries, Inc. an alternative energy start-up company and also published the Hydrogen Car Revolution blog.  In his book The Supermanager, Greg shares seven principles of great management told in a conversational tone through a short story.  The story begins by introducing Andrew, a management program trainee in the Electronics industry, about to embark on the daunting task of managing 6-8 people.  Just prior to beginning his new management role, Andrew is having lunch at a fast food restaurant, where he is surprised to see happy, motivated, efficient and engaged employees.  Upon his return visit he receives a similar experience and approaches the restaurant manager Leo to learn more about effective management.

Over seven subsequent meetings Leo shares the following 7 management principles with Andrew:

1. Surround yourself with high-quality employees

As a manager your employees play a big role in determining your success, so it is important to hire great people. 

2. Train employees well

Put yourself in the new employees position, thoroughly explain the job, encourage questions and guide the employees in the right direction.

3. Communicate the end result you want, then empower employees to achieve it

Manage the result over the process, pick your battles and confront unproductive behavior.

4. Lead by example

As a manager your actions set the standard for your employees to follow. 

5. Listen to employees

Have an open door policy: be available, open and receptive in order to uncover problems and obtain employee suggestions.

6. Praise good work

Positively reinforce good performance by all employees to increase the likelihood that such actions will be repeated. 

7. Manage each employee differently

Take a customized approach to management that acknowledges that different employees have different needs, abilities and are motivated by different things.

While many of these principles are common sense, as Greg acknowledges in his book and as I know from my experience they are unfortunately not necessarily common practice in many organizations.  What I loved about this book is its accessibility. While balancing moving states, working a full-time job, grad school and job searching delayed me getting around to reading this book, when I finally did, I found it to be a quick read at only 97 pages long.  I would definitely recommend this book to organizations that are looking for a book to give to new managers that provides a great overview of effective management.  Often I have seen companies give their managers huge management texts hundreds of pages long.  Such books are daunting to many overwhelmed new managers who may not know where to start. By contrast, The Supermanager is a far more time efficient read and a lot more approachable for managers in any industry.

In addition to the seven principles, this book also demonstrates the importance of having the courage to approach people you wish to emulate.  I have heard entrepreneurs such as Laura Zander from Jimmy Beans Wool speak on the importance of approaching people in your industry in order to learn from them. Similarly in the case of this book new manager Andrew saw Leo a manager in an unrelated industry doing a great job and sought to learn from him.

The Supermanager is a simple but effective short text, for the manager who is serious about becoming a great manager.  I would encourage you to check out this book, which is available for purchase on Amazon.

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