B2B Inspiration: Fighting groupthink with Adam Grant

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Adam Grant established himself as one of his generation’s most compelling thought leaders when he wrote his 2013 book, Give and Take.

Earlier this year, the 34-year-old – who is the youngest tenured and most highly rated professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania – followed up with another must-read for leaders, ground breakers, and movers and shakers. This time, he addresses the challenge of improving the world.

Already a national bestseller and New York Times bestseller, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World examines how people can champion new ideas – and how leaders can fight groupthink.

In Originals, Grant, a researcher on success, work motivation, and helping and giving behaviours, looks at why leaders should fight conformity and champion new ideas and values that go against the norm.

Conformity has its time and place, but too much is dangerous to long-term success, said Grant at a recent reading of his book in Toronto.

He wasn’t always one of those originals that he discusses in his book. A self-described conformist for most of his life, Grant started on a path of non-conformity after being shot down for speaking out on an incident at work.

In that vein, he takes to his book to discuss how leaders can originate new ideas, policies, and practices, and go against tradition without risking it all.

According to Grant, there are techniques to do this. It involves being able to recognize a good idea, choosing a right time to act, speaking up without being silenced, managing fear and doubt and building allies.

There are infinite applications to being an original. Originality can happen across all sectors: politics, sports, and entertainment, and even child-rearing – Grant discusses how parents and teachers can nurture originality in children – and of course, business. Grant’s examples in his book include a billionaire who fires his employees for failing to criticize him and an Apple employee who challenged Steve Jobs.

“Being original doesn’t require being first – it just means being different and better,” Grant said. But being original is a huge challenge, and those who choose to undertake it will have their work cut out for them. Grant suggests taking a new idea and tying it to something that people understand. It takes 10 to 20 exposures before a new idea sticks, he told his Toronto audience, which is why repetition is so important.

“The world does not suffer from lack of ideas,” said Grant, “but a lack of people who can make them happen.”

To win a copy of Originals, follow us on Twitter @B2BNewsNetwork and like and share the post on Adam Grant and Originals. Contest closes on Saturday, April 30, 2016 at 11:59 PM ET.

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Tracey Tong

Tracey Tong

Tracey Tong is an award-winning journalist with over 15 years in newspapers and communications. She is a former managing editor at Metro News and has contributed stories on business, politics, technology, science, healthcare and the arts to dozens of publications all over North America. The Burlington native currently makes her home in Ottawa. Find her on Twitter @TraceyTong
Tracey Tong

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