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’Whether you’re a manager, an employee or parent, it’s clear this process not always smooth or successful for any of us.’

Title: Originals

Author: Adam Grant

Publisher: WH Allen – part of Penguin Random House

Reviewer: Elaine Williams Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

What was it like?

Adam Grant, an organisational psychologist, studies “champions of originality”. He proposes we challenge today’s “norms” and longstanding beliefs to look afresh at how ideas are fostered and ultimately thrive.

He ranges across industries sharing personal interviews and research to explore how his real “champions” get identified thereby unleashing originality. He shows us there’s no predictable “profile” as ideas come from people of any age, any role, any personality type. Grant’s main purpose is to share his optimal process for taking an idea forward. Some of this may be known but much turns existing thinking on its head.

What were the highlights?

First, the real difficulties of identifying a good idea. Then how to effectively communicate it (focus, timing and audience are explored). He considers the formation of coalitions when it’s tough to go alone. Finally, he looks at how originality is unleashed, sustained and, ultimately, change flourishes, be it at work or home and even amid dissenting opinions.

Strengths & weaknesses

Each process step is covered in a chapter containing a plethora of examples. Throughout, there are many US and historic examples but also others from around the world. Perhaps, to some they’ll be superficial or over-busy but persevere and consider the footnotes plus 49 pages of references for further reading for insight. The tone is typical of an American business book - upbeat, well-paced and warm. Personally, I particularly valued the chapters on ”Creative Destruction” (how to go against the grain) and ”Rethinking Groupthink” (The Myths of Strong Cultures, Cults and Devil’s Advocates), which gives you a tone of the book. Finally – and much to this reviewer’s relief - Grant recaps with a clear ”Actions for Impact” summary suited to both individual and organisation.

Who should read it?

Whether you’re a manager, an employee or parent, it’s clear this process not always smooth or successful for any of us. Original thinkers and ideas get lost en route. If fear and apathy stand in the way of change as you see it, find new ways to encourage the voice of originality – for yourself or those you work with.


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