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Ideas Are Free

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Ideas Are Free

How the Idea Revolution Is Liberating People and Transforming Organizations


15 min read
10 take-aways
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What's inside?

Idea gathering means letting your employees use their brains.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable


Authors Alan G. Robinson and Dean M. Schroeder articulate a plain, obvious truth that hierarchical executives and managers may sometimes ignore: often the best ideas come not from the top, but from the little guy working in the cubicle or out on the assembly line. Their book predicts an ’idea revolution,’ where companies realize that their employees’ ideas are among their companies’ most valuable resources. The book reviews the basics of how to set up an idea-generating system, how to reward employees effectively and how to keep managerial egos out of the way. The authors discuss several case studies that demonstrate the power of a good idea. A new idea? No. One is reminded of Andre Gide, who said, "Everything has already been said, but because nobody was listening, we keep having to start all over again at the beginning." getAbstract recommends this book to any manager, executive or business owner who seeks powerful organizational improvements based on individual insight, creativity and innovation. Go ask a customer service clerk how to make things better.


The Value of Ideas

An essential concept underlies the knowledge economy: an idea is a product that has a value determined by supply and demand like any other item bought and sold in the marketplace. Today's rapidly changing business world demands good ideas, particularly ideas that lead to more effective, efficient operations. Managers who are constantly expected to accomplish more and more with less and less must learn to work smarter as well as harder.

Today, many middle managers operate in survival mode. They work longer hours out of necessity. They rarely have an opportunity to look away and gaze beyond the current period of results, revenue and expenses. They find themselves under closer scrutiny than ever before while, at the same time, their jobs are increasingly less secure.

Many of these managers and their companies might find the answers they need in the cubicle right next door – they just don't know it. The people who work for middle managers see things that the managers don't see. They know which practices frustrate customers, where money is wasted and, probably, what's causing the waste. Unfortunately, usually no one bothers to ask them for their...

About the Authors

Alan G. Robinson teaches at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts. He has consulted with more than 100 companies and government agencies worldwide, and is co-author of Corporate Creativity. Dean M. Schroeder founded two companies and led the financial turnarounds of two others. For five years, he served on the board of examiners of the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award. A member of the board of directors of the American Creativity Association, he currently teaches at the College of Business Administration at Valparaiso University.

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