Book Review                                      Online Exclusive


Creative Conspiracy 

The New Rules of Breakthrough Collaboration 

by Leigh Thompson, Harvard Business Review Press, Boston, Mass., 2013, 231 pp. with index, $30 hardcover


Meaningful collaboration requires working alone. Sometimes. That is the major, counterintuitive concept that author Leigh Thompson proposes in her provocative new book, Creative Conspiracy: The New Rules of Breakthrough Collaboration.

Thompson, a faculty member at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, marshals research indicating that true creativity is generally a solo act. However, well-managed teams can benefit from the work of an individual team member’s ideas. The book is essentially a manual for how to set up and manage collaborative teams effectively to maximize creative outcomes.

One of her ideas is that the quantity of ideas shared in a brainstorming session is more important than quality. In fact, she posits that emphasizing quantity ultimately results in better quality.

Thompson has a strong practitioner orientation with numerous how-to examples and provides readers with a framework for designing their own action plan “for instigating creative conspiracy.”

This is a useful book for leadership teams that want to refresh their practices. It will certainly provoke lively dialogue.

Reviewed by Christopher Clouet, superintendent, Union Free School District of the Tarrytowns, Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.


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