Idea Agent: A book review by Bob Morris

Idea AgentIdea Agent: Leadership that Liberates Creativity and Accelerates Innovation
Lina M. Echeverria
AMACOM (2012)

A personal journey of discovery, generously shared with those who also aspire to liberate creativity and accelerate innovation

Lina Echeverria shares with us her intensely personal journey of discovery, one that revealed personal life/professional career “lessons” that can be of incalculable value to others who also aspire to liberate creativity and accelerate innovation, both their own and throughout the human community within which they are associated. So, her readers are companions during one journey (Echeverria’s) but also – Echeverria hopes – actively engaged in one of their own.

She identifies and discusses a covey of Passions of Innovation (seven, to be specific) that “come together to make up a living system whose energy radiates from a leader at the core, its heart center.” She devotes a separate chapter to each. These passions, these elements, comprise what I view as a manifesto that requires a total commitment. The seven “are neither a recipe to be followed with specific ingredients added in sequence, but rather an approach and a philosophy meant as motivation and inspiration for every leader [or aspiring leader] to create a culture where innovation thrives.”

These are among the passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to give at least some indication of the range of subjects that Echeverria covers:

o Know and Understand Creatives (Pages 10-12)
o Define Roles Clearly and Inhibit Conflict (29-37)
Comment: Rather, I favor principled (passionate?) dissent with good will.
o Finding My Wings (39-43)
o Make Room for Intuition (63-67)
o Making It Home: Celebrate the Uniqueness of Their Workplace (94-99)
o Ornaments, Trinkets and Cakes (109-111)
o Demand for Excellence in the Tropical Forest (129-133)
o Create Settings That Nurture Knowledge Sharing (165-174)
o Little Gestures for Big Masters (180)
o Who Has the Skills to Do What with Whom? (196-202)
o In Search of the Holy Grail (207-212)
o Empowerment (236-239)

In the final chapter and then in the Epilogue, Echeverria pulls together with remarkable skill the various themes, insights, concerns, and affirmations that have enriched her lively as well as eloquent narrative. I am especially appreciative of her discussion of authentic leadership, one that is based on integrity rather than title or status. Whatever their size and nature may be, all organizations need leadership at all levels and in all areas of operation. Only if is authentic as Echeverria characterizes it (channeling Bill George) can there be (a) mutual trust and respect that enable (b) collaborative initiatives that liberate creativity and accelerate innovation in what has become a global workplace.

That said, no brief commentary such as mine can possibly do full justice to the scope of material that Lina Echeverria provides in this volume but I hope that I have at least suggested why I think so highly of her and her work. Also, I hope that those who read this commentary will be better prepared to determine whether or not they wish to read the book and, in that event, will have at least some idea of how the information, insights, and wisdom could perhaps be of substantial benefit to them as well as to their own organization.

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