For innovation, don’t ignore the Zero Gravity Thinker

Cover of "The Innovation Killer: How What...

Cover via Amazon

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about a book about innovation. Being that there are so many of them, and I get quite a few to read and review, there are only a handful that I would recommend. The Innovation Killer by Cynthia Barton Rabe is one of those that I recommend you read.

This is one of the best “least talked about” books about innovation out there. And, it isn’t even new. It was published in 2006, but it’s ideas will always be relevant because it focuses on how an organization can overcome human nature.

There are many companies that follow the basics that contribute to innovation: they create diverse teams, they encourage dissent and accept that mistakes will be made.

Yet, the two main killers of innovation, expert think and group think, are not kept at bay. They become blinders, and most don’t have a way to determine when this happens.

When this happens, it is easy to blame the process of innovation you have been following. But processes will not keep human nature at bay. For that you need an outside perspective: a zero gravity thinker, as she calls them.

Zero Gravity Thinkers (I very much fit into this concept) are quite simply Renaissance Men. Or, commonly known in innovation circles as T shaped people. According to Barton, to be effective, Zero Gravity Thinkers must be temporary (never permanent) team members with three characteristics – psychological distance from the team, renaissance tendencies (strong intellectual curiosity combined with an inventive/creative streak), and related expertise (knowledge relevant to the particular challenge).

The value, then, that Zero Gravity Thinkers bring to the table is an unbiased-outside perspective. The power of the outsider is rarely used as a weapon against entropy within organizations. This is a book that shows you how to do it.

P.S. I just read this book this week because it appeared on my “recommended list” in my Kindle. It was a quick read. And it’s only $4.39 on Amazon!

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