Questions better than answers

Questions better than answers - Questions better than...

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Questions better than answers October 25, 2009 CORNER OFFICE He Prizes Questions More Than Answers  This interview with Tim Brown, the chief executive and president of IDEO, was  conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant. Q. What were the most important leadership lessons you learned, and how did  you learn them? A. My very first professional design job was with this little company in the  north of England. And they were an old company, straight out of the Industrial  Revolution, that made woodworking machinery. They’d never hired a designer  before. Over six months, I redesigned all of their equipment for this one piece of the  company. Toward the end of that, the chairman said: “Hey, Tim, I really like  what you’ve been doing while you’ve been here. I want to take you to all our  other divisions around England, and I want you to advise the people running  those businesses what they should do about design.” I was 21 or 22 years old. Here was this guy who was chairman of this relatively  large company in England, taking the advice of me, this really young person.  For some reason, he trusted what I was doing. I was bringing in new ideas, he  liked them and he wanted to share them around the company. So I tripped  around in his Jaguar for a couple of days and we visited all these factories. And that for me was a really important learning about how the best ideas or  important ideas or new ideas can come from anywhere in an organization. Here I was, kind of the least important person in his company, yet he thought  the ideas that I had were interesting enough that he wanted to share them  elsewhere.
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That is something that I’ve continued to really believe — that you don’t know  where the best ideas are going to come from in the organization. So you’d  better do a good job of promoting them when they come and spotting them  when they emerge, and not let people’s positions dictate how influential their  ideas are. Q. And how does that manifest itself in the way that you run IDEO? A. I’ve gone to great lengths to try to encourage what I call an emergent  culture at IDEO, where people understand that it’s essentially their  responsibility to have good ideas. Not about the work they do every day — we  all have to do that — but about new ideas for the company. What are we going  to do next? What fields are we going to work in? What are our new big things? Q. What other important leadership lessons have you learned?
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This note was uploaded on 02/22/2012 for the course CSR 309 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '08 term at Purdue.

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Questions better than answers - Questions better than...

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