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October 14, 2011

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Best Practices Are Stupid

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 1:38 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture


Best Practices Are Stupid: 40 Ways to Out-Innovate the Competition by Stephen M. Shapiro, Portfolio, 224 pages, $22.95, Hardcover, September 2011, ISBN 9781591843856

Imagine a company that has zeroed in on an opportunity to solve a problem or fulfill a need. They hire a bunch of their friends and start brainstorming on how to create something innovative that will not only serve the opportunity, but will set them apart from the competition in big ways. Then, slowly but surely, things go nowhere. The project isn’t a total failure, but the disappointment over what could have been is discouraging, even painful.

According to Stephen Shapiro’s new book, this kind of result occurs because companies rely on following the predictable route: hire a bunch of people you like, and try to get them to think outside the box, when all you have presented them with is the box. Best Practices are Stupid offers alternative practices.

“Hire people you don’t like.” According to Shapiro, different perspectives fuel innovation. Right brainers need left brainers and vice versa. “Recognize people for challenging the status quo,” implying that honoring people for doing their jobs simply asks for, “more of the same, please!” And finally, “give employees a better box,” meaning, instead of asking them to think outside of the box (a clean, empty slate), leaders should provide employees interesting new boxes to work within, be inspired by, and develop into totally new ideas, products, and services.

From process to strategy to measures to people to creativity, Shapiro covers the entire equation. Using great case studies and his intelligent and logical insight, this book is filled with ideas that can create a sustainable, innovative culture and personal philosophy that can be relied upon repeatedly.

His previous book, Personality Poker, made clear that Shapiro understands how people work, both personally, and together. Best Practices Are Stupid now focuses on how leadership can develop teams of highly innovative people, and how employees can find ways to stand out from the herd and achieve greatness within their organization.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.