Weird Ideas That Work

How to Build a Creative Company

Weird Ideas That Work

A breakthrough in management thinking, “weird ideas” can help every organization achieve a balance between sustaining performance and fostering new ideas. To succeed, you need to be both conventional and counterintuitive.

Creativity, new ideas, innovation—in any age they are keys to success. Yet, as Stanford professor Robert Sutton explains, the standard rules of business behavior and management are precisely the opposite of what it takes to build an innovative company. We are told to hire people who will fit in; to train them extensively; and to work to instill a corporate culture in every employee. In fact, in order to foster creativity, we should hire misfits, goad them to fight, and pay them to defy convention and undermine the prevailing culture. Weird Ideas That Work codifies these and other proven counterintuitive ideas to help you turn your workplace from staid and safe to wild and woolly—and creative.

In Weird Ideas That Work Sutton draws on extensive research in behavioral psychology to explain how innovation can be fostered in hiring, managing, and motivating people; building teams; making decisions; and interacting with outsiders. Business practices like "hire people who make you uncomfortable" and "reward success and failure, but punish inaction," strike many managers as strange or even downright wrong. Yet Weird Ideas That Work shows how some of the best teams and companies use these and other counterintuitive practices to crank out new ideas, and it demonstrates that every company can reap sales and profits from such creativity.

Weird Ideas That Work is filled with examples, drawn from hi- and low-tech industries, manufacturing and services, information and products. More than just a set of bizarre suggestions, it represents a breakthrough in management thinking: Sutton shows that the practices we need to sustain performance are in constant tension with those that foster new ideas. The trick is to choose the right balance between conventional and "weird"—and now, thanks to Robert Sutton's work, we have the tools we need to do so.
  • Free Press | 
  • 240 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743227889 | 
  • May 2007
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About the Author

Robert I. Sutton
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Robert I. Sutton

Robert I. Sutton is professor of management science and engineering at the Stanford University School of Engineering, where he is the former codirector of the Center for Work, Technology, and Organization. Sutton is the author of The No Asshole Rule and coauthor of The Knowing-Doing Gap and Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense.