A review on ‘Weird Ideas
that Spark Innovation ’
The Coré Notes
• “You just need to be skilled
and motivated at gathering
knowledge from diverse
sources, and then at
figuring out how it might
be put to new uses.”
• “…all great technologies
are blends of other
Insanely Great Language
Invent. Reinvent. Repeat.
Source: HP banner ad
RS’s logic about this article
You need to have variation
& ideas that are floating
around the group or the
variations—and you need to
have people who have what
RS call “vu jadé” which is
the opposite of “déja vu”.
It's this ability to keep
seeing the same old thing
as brand new.
Weird Ideas that Work
Whole trick is to get
somebody who sees
differently, to have
as many different
around the same
old problem, or to a
new problem, as
Sutton – Weird Ideas that Work
1. Hire “Slow Learners” (of the organizational code). 1-1/2 Hire People Who Make
You Uncomfortable, Even Those You Dislike.
2. Hire People You (Probably) Don’t Need
3. Use Job Interviews to Get Ideas, Not to Screen Candidates
4. Encourage People to Ignore and Defy Superiors and Peers
5. Find Some Happy People and Get them to Fight
6. Reward Success and Failure, Punish Inaction
7. Decide to Do Something That Will Probably Fail, Then Convince Yourself and
Everybody Else That Success is Certain
8. Think of Some Ridiculous or Impractical Things to Do, Then Plan to Do Them.
9. Avoid, Distract, and Bore Customers, Critics, and Anyone Who Just Wants to Talk
10. Don’t Try to Learn Anything from People Who Seem to Have Solved the
Problems You Face.
11. Forget the Past, Especially Your Company’s Successes.
• Sutton, Robert I. 2002. Weird Ideas that Work: 11-1/2 Practices for Promoting,
Managing, and Sustaining Innovation. New York: Free Press.
RS’s favorite quote…
Do something that will probably
fail, and then convince
everybody around you that
success is certain.
This is how the best venture capitalists and the best
product development managers work, because it's such a
paradox, but it's how Silicon Valley works.
• increase variance in
• see old things in
• break from the past
• Professor Sutton’s ideas can be viewed as a
“menu”for innovation. As with any good
menu, time will introduce variations,
additions, and adjustments, but the
foundation is a solid base with which to start.
1. Get the right people (Ideas
1, 1.5, 2, & 3)
2. Build the right
environment (Ideas 4, 5, &
3. Work on the right projects
(Ideas 7 & 8)
4. Filter out the noise (Ideas
9, 10, & 11)
What “We” Know “For Sure”
Big mergers [by & large] don’t work
Scale is over-rated
Strategic planning is the last refuge of scoundrels
Focus groups are counter-productive
“Built to last” is a chimera (stupid)
“Forgetting” is impossible
Re-imagine is a charming idea
“Orderly innovation process” is an oxymoronic phrase
(= Believed only by morons with ox-like brains)
“Tipping points” are easy to identify …
long after they will do you any good
All information making it to the top is filtered
to the point of danger and hilarity
“Success stories” are the illusions of egomaniacs (and “gurus”)
If you believe the “cause & effect” memoirs of CEOs
you should be institutionalized
“Herd behavior” (XYZ is “hot”) is ubiquitous … and amusing
“Top teams” are “Ditto heads”
Statistically, CEOs have little effect on performance
“Expert” prediction is rarely better than rolling the dice
The greatest danger
for most of us
is not that our aim is
and we miss it,
but that it is
and we reach it.
• Finally, if you look at
these, a reasonable
conclusion is that,
although creative places
can be a lot of fun at
times and being happy is
linked to creativity.