In 2002, Robert Sutton published the
book Weird
Ideas That Work: 11 ½ Practices for Promoting, Managing, and Sustaining
. His ideas, perspective
and style immediately got my attention. 

It was the first time I
read anything that described creativity and innovation with phrases like:

“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.” 

“In the right hands,
nothing succeeds like failure.”

“…all great technologies
are blends of other technologies” 

“They automatically think
of every possible permutation instead of assuming that existing ways are best.”

“…ability to see links
between otherwise disconnected fields.” 

And finally: “My weird
ideas spark innovation because each helps companies do at least one of three
things: (1) increase variance in available
, (2) see old things in new
, and (3) 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, & 6)
  3. Work on the right projects (Ideas 7 & 8)
  4. Filter out the noise (Ideas 9, 10, & 11)

Over the next several
posts we’ll cover them all. Hopefully
when we’re done you’ll be interested in learning more about Professor Sutton
and his more recent weird (and not-so weird) ideas!

Updated 8/23: Professor Sutton covered these today on his blog.  As a result, I made a few edits to more accurately reflect his thoughts.

Check this out: Tom
Peters interviews Bob Sutton about his weird ideas!