Let me be honest—this is not my best review.  It is written on a Friday afternoon, I’m not feeling inspired, and I trust you can Google better reviews.  But, alas, I am committed to writing, so here goes.

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant (2016) is a great book to reexamine your place in your organization.  Grant presents research on motivation, rebellion, and how non-conformists operate.

The first idea which was initially puzzling to me is system justification—meaning that those who suffer the most from a situation are least likely to want to change it.  “Its core idea is that people are motivated to rationalize the status quo as legitimate” (6).  This concept helps me understand why so few people are motivated to change the status quo. In Catholic school systems—including chanceries—the status quo usually doesn’t facilitate innovation and new ideas.

In Chapter 3, Grant examines how people challenge systems.  “The way to come to power is not always to merely challenge the Establishment, but first make a place in it and then challenge and double-cross the Establishment” (66).  He gives examples of innovators who attempt to change by voicing concerns or persisting, as well as those who ignore the problem(s) or exit the company altogether.  It’s a nice reminder of the choices available to those who want to facilitate change.

The book is also filled with a number of small tidbits such as opening a presentation (or book review, see above) with self-deprecating remarks to get the audience on your side, the value and how-to’s for building coalition and causing change, etc.

But the book really sings when it discusses groupthink and hiring for culture fit.  The tendency to seek consensus (like what happens in our schools and chanceries!) can lead to groupthink and people are less inclined to speak truth to power or disagree.  “How do you build a strong culture that welcomes dissent?” asks Grant (187).

The book serves non-conformists well and it aptly raises questions about a company’s culture which should provide schools and chanceries ample food for thought.

Here’s a link to Adam Grant’s TED talk “The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers.”

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