Succeeding at Being Original

 

Adam-Grant-cover-Originals

In Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, Adam Grant analyzes what makes an original thinker successful. An “original” is someone who champions novel ideas.

Originals vary in their approaches to risk. Some originals are gamblers. “Others are penny-pinching germophobes.” But to be an original, you ultimately need to try something new. The most successful originals are the ones who take calculated risks. “They … reluctantly tiptoe to the edge of a cliff, calculate the rate of descent, triple-check their parachutes, and set up a safety net at the bottom just in case.”

The best way to achieve an original idea is through quantity. By generating a large pool of ideas, there is a greater likelihood that one of them will be a breakthrough. For example, “[t]o generate a handful of masterworks, Mozart composed more than 600 pieces before his death at thirty-five.”

The best way for an original idea to become dominant is through being a tempered radical. Tempered radicals take their original ideas but soften them to be more acceptable to the Establishment. Often times, they achieve this through making a place in the Establishment and then challenging it from within, or from outside the Establishment and then obscuring the most controversial aspect of their idea.

Perhaps it would be easier for the Establishment to adopt Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Brown’s “5-Point Action Plan” in changing the civil litigation process if aspects of it were sold as just an incremental step forward. For example, in his paper, Justice Brown suggests that documentary disclosure should be completed at the pleading stage. By reframing his plan as simply a change in sequencing, his approach to civil litigation could become more appealing and less shocking to the Establishment.

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