How Non-Conformists Move the World
by Adam Grant

Estimated Reading Time

Summary 1:00 hour
Full Book 5:00 hours
You Save 4:00 hours

Originals describes how non-conformists challenge the status quo to make the world a better place. Conventional wisdom holds that originals must be cut from a different cloth; they are risk-taking, hard-charging, productive individuals compelled to rebel. The truth, however, is many originals are just the opposite: reluctant, risk averse, fearful and prone to procrastination. Adam Grant, the youngest tenured professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and bestselling author of Give and Take, explores the many sides of originality from the perspective of organizations, entrepreneurs, and even parents and children. Originals begins by explaining the importance of questioning the status quo, then describes the process of evaluating which original ideas have promise. The book goes on to discuss strategies and tools to help turn original ideas into reality.

In this summary:

  • Chapter 1: Creative Destruction explains that originality begins with questioning the status quo, and argues that managing risk is key to pursuing original ideas. Key ideas: the 3 reasons why people don’t question the status quo; evidence that originals and entrepreneurs are risk adverse; how to balance your risk portfolio.
  • Chapter 2: Blind Inventors and One-Eyed Investors discusses the art and science of idea selection - how to identify the right original ideas with promise. Key ideas: how to avoid false positives and false negatives; caution about overconfidence and intuition; looking for the right kind of passion; why quantity matters more than quality; the value of peer feedback; creative vs. evaluative mindsets; the value of diverse experiences.
  • Chapter 3: Out on a Limb advises how to promote original ideas without jeopardizing your reputation or career. Key ideas: the difference between power and status; idiosyncrasy credits; leading with weakness; the curse of knowledge; the mere exposure effect; the value of disagreeable supporters; avoiding middle-status conservatism; exit, voice, persistence and neglect.
  • Chapter 4: Fools Rush In discusses the importance of timing in originality. Key ideas: 3 ways procrastination boosts creativity; pioneers vs. settlers - whether it’s better to be early or late; conceptual vs. experimental innovation.
  • Chapter 5: Goldilocks and the Trojan Horse reviews tactics for building alliances and how to temper radical ideas to make them more mainstream. Key ideas: horizontal hostility and why infighting occurs; 3 lessons in making allies; 3 tactics to go mainstream.
  • Chapter 6: Rebel with a Cause explores how birth order affects risk-taking in children. Key ideas: niche picking; how parents can channel risk-taking into constructive behaviors.
  • Chapter 7: Rethinking Groupthink shows how to avoid cultures of conformity and groupthink in organizations. Key ideas: the commitment blueprint; the power of dissent; 7 ways to avoid groupthink cultures.
  • Chapter 8: Rocking the Boat and Keeping It Steady provides strategies for dealing with the emotions of challenging the status quo. Key ideas: dealing with fear; overcoming apathy; rechanneling anger.