Friday, December 23, 2011

Gregory Slayton on Innovation

Dartmouth Tuck School of Business Adjunct Professor Gregory W. Slayton was in Beijing this month to give some talks about innovation.  Although creativity and innovation are of course important to me, I haven’t focused on this, partly because I think of it as an art (that you learn by doing) rather than a science (that you learn by studying). Obviously it's a little of both, and as a professor he’s studied it academically, so it was nice to get an overview of the state of the science.
He divides professional creativity into four components:
  • Product: what you make
  • Process: how you make it
  • Interpersonal: who you partner with
  • Strategic: future directions
Companies as well as people can be analyzed on these dimensions, and he asks us to rate ourselves (our “Creative Profile”) on each of the four components and assess where we want to be in five years.
He recommends three classic books on creativity:

as well as some readings I thought were useful about Pixar,  Alessis, and a highly-quoted HBR article by Teresa Ambile.

Other suggestions:
  • Keep a creative journal to write down new thoughts or ideas as they come to you
  • Appoint a “Creative Board of Directors”, mentors who will give you feedback on how to be more creatively successful
Gregory has an interesting background: Harvard MBA, McKinsey consultant, Silicon Valley businessman, and Consul General to the Bahamas. He's also had a longtime interest in Asia, and I enjoyed the short conversations we had during the breaks, talking about his thoughts on China and more.