Article Review: How to Kill Creativity, by Teresa Amabile

How to Kill Creativity, 5/5 Sparks

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Teresa Amabile is a Professor of Business Administration in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit, and the senior associate dean for research, at the Harvard Business School in Boston, Massachusetts.  Dr. Amabile received her Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University and has produced over 150 scholarly publications. Additionally Dr. Amabile has published two books, Creativity in Context (1996) and Growing up Creative: Nurturing a lifetime of creativity (1989).  [Harvard bio]

Main Points

  • Creativity is not a fluffy or abstract force, rather, it is the capacity to develop novel and useful ideas and results from the combination of three distinct influences; expertise, creative thinking skill, and motivation.
  • Management can improve the creative output of their employees through actions and procedures that enhance the effectiveness of these three influences.

Review

How to Kill Creativity is a must read for any manager or executive who desires to increase the number of novel, appropriate and actionable ideas generated by their employees. In her article, Dr. Amabile successfully disperses the mystified disillusions surrounding creativity and then provides concrete procedures and practices management can undertake to improve the creative output of their employees. Read more of this post

Book Review: The Art of Innovation, by Tom Kelley

The Art of Innovation, 3/5 Sparks

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Tom Kelley is IDEO’s general manager. Tom has overseen IDEO’s business development, marketing, human resources, and operations. Tom currently has two best-selling books, The Art of Innovation (2001) and The Ten Faces of Innovation (2005). [Company Bio]

IDEO is an award-winning global design firm that takes a human-centered approach to helping organizations innovate and grow.” IDEO specializes in helping organizations “build creative culture[s] and the internal systems required to sustain innovation and launch new ventures.” [About IDEO]

Main Points

  • Aim to create an experience that is valuable to the customer. Good product and service innovations stem from the careful observation of, and empathy for, lead users.
  • “Innovation does not occur in a vacuum”. Effective innovation necessitates an environment that combines specific conditions, cultures, and activities, with a prototyping mindset.

Review

The Art of Innovation is a testimony to successful defiance of hierarchical management styles and to the value of human-centered design. Author Tom Kelley, firmly believes that “sometimes only a real-life story will show you how the process actually works” [114]. The Art of Innovation manifests this notion. The book is read as a narrative of IDEO‘s successful projects that requires its audience to read between the lines to pull out the interlaced methodologies. Due to this structural choice, the majority of The Art of Innovation’s content functions as promotional material for IDEO and lacks counter perspectives, lessons learned from failure, and in-depth tips for implementation. Nevertheless, the book retains its value with five resource-packed chapters; 3-7. These chapters pair procedures and concrete management tools with real-life examples.

Topics covered by these chapters include:

  • Human-centered design
  • The brainstorming process
  • The importance of strong teams
  • The value of prototyping
  • The architecture of innovation-friendly environments

One of the cases referenced in the book is an ABC Nightline broadcast where IDEO is challenged to innovate the traditional shopping cart within a week. This video broadcast by ABC Nightline is embedded at the end of my review. Read more of this post