Notes from Originals, by Adam Grant

Just a collection of notes I took while reading Originals, by Adam Grant

– Originals. Bad/inaccurate title? Profiled ideas aren’t original, but founders had guts. Not new ideas, but original implementations.

– It’s best when you hedge your bets- Employees who accept the default call in sick and perform lower than those who set their own defaults. Choose their browser, choose their own sales script. Ie users are 19% more likely to call in sick.

– make big balances bets. Use $5k of your own money, but keep your job.

– procrastination preserves originality. It lets first movers die and you succeed

– originals are poor judges of their ideas. To get around this they make up likes of ideas. Make more. More variation. Then choosing becomes the objective. Just like artists are the last to understand their own work. Make more. Make more. Kind of explains why SNL is not funny. Every week the comedians pump out work over and over again. Doesn’t mater if it’s good or bad. But then sometimes it’s good and their standup then becomes good and their movies become good.

– test in the wild, not a controlled environment. Controlled environments like focus groups change the setting and mindset too much. Test in the home or on live production. This way people are in their natural state and right mind set. Peers are best for testing, 2nd to in the wild. They are more open to genuine opinions. Pure artists are best judges. Once an artists become judges, they become less open to novelty.

– outsider status: working in a field or on a project that you do not have much experience with. You are more likely to ignore the “rules” because you didn’t know they existed.

– people who are interested in art are more inquisitive and open to new ideas and in fact seek them out.

– intuitions are accurate in fields in which we are experts. It beats data because you can make faster analysis based on gut from years of navigating patterns.

– Good ideas need to be new and useful. Segway was new, and a great technological advancement, but stupid. It was not practical.

– the better people perform in the past, the least likely they will perform well in a new field.

– assess peoples desire for business and brining products into the market. Are they 100% engineer? Or more 50/50? Dean Kamen was an engineer who liked technology. Segway was a technological advancement looking for a problem. Not a problem looking for a solution. Let others define the problems then respond with a solution. Never start with a solution.

– HOW people become successful is more important than IF they’ve become successful.

– the more people speak up with suggestions, the less likely they are to receive promotions or raises.

– people who speak up are perceived as argumentative and difficult to work with and self serving. People need to earn respect and status first. Then your ideas will not be dismissed.

– accentuate your weakness, especially when speaking with people who are not likely to be supportive. It’s sincere. It’s honest. It’s not about selling but sharing. It makes you trustworthy. It shows you’ve done your homework. It shows you are open about the flaws that you are self aware and not blind to flaws.

– avoid the middle. Middle level work and jobs. You are likely to get stuck and your originality will suffer.

– people who get things done stand out. If you’re advocating for your company. Others will turn to you when you get things done and offer help and advice.

– if you work somewhere that allows for mobility, a place you can leave, and that place is not producing originality, leave. Speaking up will not get you further. If it is a place that you cannot leave or is a place that does create originality, speak up and you will create more originality.

– procrastination can be a key to success. The Advantages of moving first do not outweighs the disadvantages. Procrastination, when done with thought and care, is a virtue. Most originals are rarely first. They are usually late to the party, but get to use their time to better understand the party. And are not stuck with a worldview. Procrastination is not laziness. You’re thinking more and thinking with clarity and with originality. Ie put out a lot of ideas and take your time. Studies show that procrastination improves novelties of ideas are 28% more novel.

– laziness vs waiting for the right time. Da Vinci, Apple, etc. people think Da Vinci wasted his time but his studies were key to his originality.

– when sleepy, you are more open to original ideas and are less structured with your time.

– pioneers vs settlers. timing is 40% of the success of new ideas. Not team, not money, not market. But timing. First mover does not matter. Discoveries don’t matter. Patents don’t matter.

– 47% of pioneers fail. 8% of settlers survive. Pioneers only capture 10% of market, vs 28% of settlers. think carefully before entering a new domain. Even with this knowledge, we only think of the first movers and move first. Original means different and better. Think Blue Ocean Strategy – Adjust the knobs so you are different and what the customer wants. Be original not first.

– average tech founder age is 38.

– youthful and wise. Both cycles generate original ideas. Experiment your way to originality

– relationships, coalitions, are inherently unstable. It’s up to you to ensure they remain intact.

– experiences are emphasized when experienced together with others.

– common experiences bind people more than common goals

– be moderate with your asks. Occupy Wall Street was an extreme ask. Even though lots of people agreed with it, it required camping out on Wall St. Getting engineers to make small improvements with light reason, rather than challenging what they strongly believe e.g. wireless power.

– when you scrutinize people’s ideas, when they win you over their ideas will seem more valid to them – since you will appear to be considerate and a tough judge.

– originality is a balance. Push envelope with new ideas that have hints of familiarity. But don’t tear the envelope.