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商界创新先锋=耐心+勤奋

Anne Fisher 2011年07月21日

要想提高创新能力,并不需要像史蒂夫•乔布斯一样,跑到神庙去冥想。最近出版的两本新书几乎毋庸置疑地表明:要成为更具创造性思维的人,必须提前做足功课。

    不久之前,“创新宗师”托德•亨利推荐一位前来咨询的客户——一位高级经理人——每周拿出一个小时的时间思考新点子。亨利在《即时创意:如何抓住稍纵即逝的灵感》(The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment's Notice)一书中写道:“每周拿出一个小时,提前安排,雷打不动。这一个小时不做具体工作,专心思考工作。”

    亨利回忆起那位客户当时的反应:“他反问我:‘什么?!你让我就干坐在那里胡思乱想?!’”

    如今的商业环境,一周7天,每天24小时,高度亢奋,大部分人可能都会这么反应。谁有空静静地坐下来思考?但亨利写道,公司为员工,尤其是领导者支付工资,是因为他们能够创造价值,而“花一个小时,熟练、专注地思考关键的问题,这样为公司创造的价值比急着回复电子邮件创造的价值不知要大多少。”

    也许有人会说,即使我愿意试着每周拿出一小时来进行思考,我也不见得就是属于有创造力的那一类人啊。亨利沉思道:“职场中一直有种根深蒂固的迷思:人们认为创造力是一种虚无缥缈的神秘力量,其不可琢磨的程度介于祈祷与美国税务法之间,很难被人掌握。”

    亨利在书中写道,他的即时创意(Accidental Creative)公司在对数百位商务人士进行培训时发现,不论是图形设计师还是首席财务官,都能有效提升能力,“产生有规律的创造性灵感。”

    其中必不可少的一步是:跳出习惯的思维模式。与其他关于创新的著作不同,《即时创意》一书承认创新者在实际工作中需要面临的重重障碍,包括对失败的担忧、官僚味十足的繁重工作等等,并提出了克服这些障碍的策略。

    《创新者的DNA:掌握破坏性创新的五项技能》(The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators)一书的作者与亨利英雄所见略同,他们同样认为,创新技能并非天生,而是后天培养形成的。他们经过详尽的研究后才作出了这样的结论。

    杨百翰大学马里奥特商学院(Marriott School at Brigham Young University)的杰夫•戴尔教授、欧洲工商管理学院(INSEAD)的赫尔•葛瑞格森教授,以及哈佛商学院(Harvard Business School)的克雷顿•克里斯滕森合作进行了这项长达八年的研究,从75个国家收集了600多名发明家和5,000名高管的数据。

    研究的结论是:创新是“积极的努力”。《创新者的DNA》一书的作者认为:“苹果公司(Apple)的口号‘不同凡想’虽然能够鼓舞人心,但还不够完美。创新者必须始终坚持特立独行,才能在思想上与众不同”

    如何做到这一点呢?《创新者的DNA》一书描述了在他们研究过程中经常遇到的五种习惯。其中一个习惯是积累各种表面看来毫不相干的经验。该书作者提到,史蒂夫•乔布斯曾经体验过各种新鲜事物,“从印度的神庙里进行的冥想和修行,到旁听里德学院(Reed College)的书法课。”这些经历为苹果产品的新功能提供了灵感来源。乔布斯曾经说过:“创造力就是找到事物之间的联系。”

    我们不必为了提高创造力而跑去神庙冥想,不过这两本书中有一个观点几乎毋庸置疑,那就是:要想成为更具创新性思维的人,必须兼具耐心和勤奋。一些开创性的点子,即便它们看起来是突发奇想,但事实上都是以精心准备为基础的。或者,正如路易斯•巴斯德所说:“机会总是垂青有准备的人。”

    (翻译 刘进龙)

    Not long ago, creativity guru Todd Henry recommended to one of his consulting clients, a high-ranking manager, that he set aside one hour a week to generate new ideas -- "one hour, predictably scheduled, no exceptions and no violations," Henry says in his book, The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment's Notice. "This is not time to do work. This is time to think about work."

    That executive's reaction, Henry recalls: "He fired back at me, 'What?! You just want me to sit around and think?!"

    In today's wired, 24/7 business climate, most people can relate. Who has time to sit and ponder? Yet, Henry writes, companies pay employees, particularly leaders, for the value they create, and "you can create infinitely greater value for the company in an hour of skilled, focused thought about critical problems than by responding to your email slightly faster."

    Let's say you're willing to try setting aside an hour a week for pondering, but you think you're just not the creative type. "There is a persistent myth in the workplace that creativity is a mystical and elusive force that sits somewhere between prayer and the U.S. tax code on the ambiguity scale," Henry muses.

    In coaching hundreds of businesspeople through his firm, Accidental Creative, Henry writes, he's realized that anyone, from graphic artists to chief financial officers, can boost their capacity for "regular flashes of creative insight."

    An essential step: Get out of your own way. Unlike most tomes on innovation, The Accidental Creative acknowledges the real-world stumbling blocks that would-be innovators face -- from fear of failure to bureaucratic busywork -- and offers specific strategies for getting past them.

    The authors of The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators agree with Henry that creative people are made, not born, a conclusion they reached by way of exhaustive research.

    Professors Jeff Dyer and Hal Gregersen, of the Marriott School at Brigham Young University and INSEAD respectively, and Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School, teamed up to conduct an eight-year study that collected data from more than 600 inventors and 5,000 executives in 75 countries.

    The result: Innovation is "an active endeavor," the authors write. "Apple's slogan 'Think Different' is inspiring but incomplete. Innovators must consistently act different to think different."

    How? The Innovator's DNA describes five habits that turned up in their study time and time again. One of these is gathering a wide range of seemingly unrelated experiences. The authors note that Steve Jobs has experimented with new things all his life, "from meditation and living in an Ashram in India to dropping in on a calligraphy class at Reed College," all of which would later trigger ideas for new features in Apple (AAPL) products. "Creativity is connecting things," Jobs once said.

    Nobody needs to take off for an Ashram to become more creative, but these books leave little doubt that becoming a more innovative thinker takes patience and hard work. Groundbreaking ideas, even those that look like bolts from the blue, usually come from painstaking preparation. Or, as Louis Pasteur put it, "Chance favors the prepared mind."

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