Weird Ideas That Work - 11.5 Ways to Promote, Manage and Sustain Innovation By Robert Sutton Published by Penguin Imagine stepping outside the box, abandoning traditional business practices and embracing original thinking to move your struggling company forward. For many managers, this is an uncomfortable thought and too radical to consider - especially in Hong Kong, where the 'old ways' continue to be the norm. In Weird Ideas That Work, author Robert Sutton challenges traditional business practices with 11.5 ideas that promote innovation and contradict standard management teachings. Hire misfits and encourage them to defy the firm's culture, consider impractical ideas, find happy employees and get them to fight, decide to do something that will probably fail but convince everybody that success is certain, Sutton advises. It is also important, he says, to forget the past, especially your company's successes. But the professor of management science and engineering at the Stanford Engineering School says his aim is not to 'convince companies to discard every routine and devote all efforts to inventing new ways of thinking and acting'. 'Doing routine work with proven methods is the right thing to do most of the time,' he says. 'Hospitals want surgical residents to perform operations exactly like their experienced mentors . . . McDonald's wants each new trainee to make every Big Mac just as it has always been done.' However, he stresses, there is a time and place when innovation is crucial to the success of a company. 'Many companies have made a lot of money by creating new and better futures. So, although it usually entails a high failure rate and a lot of resources, every company - or at least part of it - needs to keep trying to discard old ways and replace them with better new ways.' The key to the book is using old knowledge in new ways, which means borrowing new ways of thinking and acting from other people and places. This is where the first weird idea comes into play: it is smart to hire slow learners, to tolerate deviants, heretics, eccentrics, crackpots, weirdos and just plain original thinkers, he says. 'Your company can benefit from slow learners if you want to break from the past so you can keep making money later.' Sutton uses a good mix of real life anecdotes to illustrate his points, such as Thomas Edison, who 'needed a pile of junk' in his labs to invent new things, and how employees at a US manufacturing plant made more novel and useful suggestions because their supervisor was 'non-controlling'. Weird Ideas That Work is easy to read and has the potential to change existing ideas about how businesses should be run. It could even be the key to turning around Hong Kong's economy, if only managers can leave the past behind.