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Creative People Must Be Stopped

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Creative People Must Be Stopped

6 Ways We Kill Innovation (Without Even Trying)


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

To innovate, break through the roadblocks that you, your company and society put in your way.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


Vanderbilt Graduate School of Management professor David A. Owens offers a novel model for understanding innovation. He argues that most innovators focus on overcoming obstacles only in their familiar areas: Engineers target technical challenges, while marketers zero in on price points. This myopia leads to flops like the Segway Personal Transporter, a technical triumph that initially failed commercially because it clashed with a societal value: People thought its riders looked silly. Owens says a successful innovation must overcome challenges, or “constraints,” in six areas: “individual, group, organizational, industry, societal and technological.” He offers thorough guidance on fostering creativity and overcoming the hurdles in each phase of a project, explains the details with tables and diagrams, and provides a quiz you can take to see how well you contend with each constraint. getAbstract recommends his advice on setting creativity free to entrepreneurs, managers, strategic planners, engineers, marketers and innovators of all kinds.


Constraining Creativity

Business leaders unwittingly sabotage innovation because they remain unaware of the “constraints” that can block successful implementation. They may focus on only one or two constraints – such as the need to generate original ideas – but overlook less obvious yet significant constraints, such as the cultural values and societal traditions. Six major “innovation constraints” impede creativity. Successful innovations overcome the challenges of each one:

1. “Individual Constraints”

The first challenge is to cultivate an individual’s creative abilities. This requires understanding creativity. It’s not a special attribute limited only to certain personality types. Creativity is a way of thinking – it’s different from daily, habitual thought processes, and it’s available to everyone.

To strike that spark, address these areas of individual cognition:

  • “Perception” – Ordinarily, your brain acts as a perception filter, screening out large segments of information each day. Without such a filter, information would overwhelm you. But, as you filter it, you might overlook possibly useful data. If you use the right techniques...

About the Author

David A. Owens teaches at Vanderbilt’s Graduate School of Management where he directs the Executive Development Institution. He’s consulted for the Smithsonian, Nissan and NASA.

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