When Sparks Fly: Igniting Creativity in Groups

Overview

How does a leader manage for creativity?

Many managers fall into the trap of assuming that only gifted individuals--readily identifiable "creative types"--can produce breakthrough thinking, and if you don't have an eccentric genius on your team, your efforts are doomed to mediocrity. Some even argue that creativity is an art that can't possibly be planned or managed without extinguishing the vital creative spark. Yet, say Dorothy Leonard and Walter Swap, today's most innovative,...

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Overview

How does a leader manage for creativity?

Many managers fall into the trap of assuming that only gifted individuals--readily identifiable "creative types"--can produce breakthrough thinking, and if you don't have an eccentric genius on your team, your efforts are doomed to mediocrity. Some even argue that creativity is an art that can't possibly be planned or managed without extinguishing the vital creative spark. Yet, say Dorothy Leonard and Walter Swap, today's most innovative, complex services, products and processes spring from well-led, well-managed group interactions.

Blending their backgrounds in business and psychology into a fresh perspective, Leonard and Swap sweep aside conventional thinking about creativity to show how managers can actively shape group processes to enhance creative output. They offer proven strategies based on a deep understanding of human behavior for stimulating and directing the group dynamics that lie at the heart of innovative thinking. The book clearly outlines and analyzes each step in the creative process and gives practical suggestions for managing creative teams, including specific techniques for composing groups to maximize creative abrasion, re-channeling the tensions of conflicting points of view into new ideas and alternative options, and failing forward to success.

Leonard and Swap explore how all aspects of the work environment, from leadership style to the promotion of passion to the use of space to maximize serendipity, can enhance innovation. Drawing on examples in companies that range from small startups to Fisher-Price, Intel and Hewlett-Packard, When Sparks Fly shows how sophisticated managers can galvanize groups to maximize their creative potential.

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What People Are Saying

David M. Kelley
Leonard and Swap marshal an impressive array of evidence that group creativity can be taught, nurtured, managed, and even grown from scratch. With creativity and innovation poised as the next frontier of international business competition, every manager who wants to make a difference should read When Sparks Fly. -- ( David M. Kelley, CEO, IDEO Product Development, and Engineering Design Professor, Stanford University )
Jerry Hirshberg
Finally, a book that dispels the notion that creativity is limited to rare individuals working in isolation. When Sparks Fly is a wide-ranging, readable compendium of strategies for stimulating innovative thought in organizations. -- ( Jerry Hirshberg, President, Nissan Design International, and Author of The Creative Priority: Putting Innovation to Work in Your Business )
John Kao
An invaluable and thoroughly contemporary guide to the practice of business creativity. -- ( John Kao, Author of Jamming: The Art and Discipline of Business Creativity, and CEO, The Idea Factory )
Richard Teerlink
People are an organization's only true long-term competitive advantage-an advantage that grows exponentially when group creativity is unleashed. When Sparks Fly shows how to ignite this creativity in real life. -- ( Richard Teerlink, Former Chairman and CEO, Harley-Davidson, Inc. )
Teresa Amabile
In the years that I've been studying creativity, I haven't seen a single business book on the topic that adequately conveys the major findings about group creativity. When Sparks Fly does--and in an engaging, clear, and enjoyable way. Drawing on their combined talents in the domains of psychology, organizational behavior, and technology development, Leonard and Swap have written a comprehensive and unique book. -- ( Teresa Amabile, MBA Class of 1954 Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School )
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780875848655
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/1999
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.39 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface

1. What is Group Creativity?

2. Creative Abrasion

3. Generating Creative Options

4. Converging on the Best Options

5. Designing the Physical Environment

6. Designing the Psychological Environment

Notes

Bibliography

Index

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