Originals: Adam Grant’s Quotes and Passages

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Are you looking for Originals quotes by Adam Grant? What are some of the most noteworthy passages that highlight the author’s key ideas about originality and innovation?

In his book Originals, Adam Grant describes the habits and practices of innovators so you too can innovate. The following Originals quotes by Adam Grant highlight some of his key ideas about innovation and originality.

Keep reading for Originals quotes by Adam Grant.

Originals: Quotes by Adam Grant

“Dissenting opinions are useful, even when they are wrong.”

According to Adam Grant in this first Originals quote, dissenting opinions are a crucial component of the innovation process and there is research to back it up. Studies have found that groups that debated generated more original ideas than those that didn’t, since even incorrect dissenting opinions can be useful.

In view of these findings, Grant encourages business leaders to challenge groupthink in their organizations to make dissenting opinions rise to the surface. To this end, he suggests the following tactics:

Tactic 1: assigning devil’s advocates to take up the other side is less effective than discovering true believers. Devil’s advocates who are assigned don’t argue forcefully enough for the minority viewpoint, and they’re perceived as insincere by group members. 

  • Google addresses this with a Canary team, representative engineers who represent diverse viewpoints and have a reputation for speaking their minds. 
  • Ray Dalio tried to discover authentic dissenters by sending out an email asking people to name 3 people who were not sufficiently fighting for what they believed in. 

Tactic 2: reject the maxim “don’t bring me problems; bring me solutions.” While this rewards self-initiative, it also risks premature optimization when the problem is poorly understood. People who identify important problems but don’t have clear solutions are suppressed.  Encourage people to identify problems, even if they’re not sure how to solve it. 

“Original thinkers doubt the default.”

One of the main qualities of original thinkers is the tendency to question the status quo, and generate concepts that are both novel and useful. Much of modern life is built around conformity – the structure and rules of schooling, uniform career tracks, the social recognition of status and accomplishment. However, this can be suppressive, pushing people into guaranteed success instead of venturing into the unknown, dreading failure instead of aiming for innovation. Possibly for this reason, child prodigies who show mastery at an early age tend not to become agents of massive change – they are very good at learning established rules, but not at breaking them or designing a totally new game.

And so the reason that many innovative companies aren’t started earlier is that many people simply don’t take the time to question why the status quo exists, and how it could be better.

“Entrepreneurs who kept their day jobs had 33 percent lower odds of failure than those who quit.”

One of the most prevailing myths of originality is that original thinkers take extreme, uncontrolled risks. But according to Grant, this is not the case at all. Originals are careful and tend to hedge their risks—often keeping a source of stability (like their full-time job) while working on their idea on the side. For example, one study found that entrepreneurs who kept their day jobs had 33% lower odds of failure than those who quit.

Originals: Adam Grant’s Quotes and Passages

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  • How to generate innovative ideas
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  • How rules can inhibit a child's originality

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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