Dave Owens was one of my doctoral students about 15 years ago. He always amazed me with has range of talents. He was not only remarkably well-read and a great field researcher, he could build or fix anything. There was an interesting moment when he was doing an ethnography at a now defunct design firm. Dave met with me to complain that he kept going to one meeting after another where the development team brainstormed and argued and argued and talked and talked about what the prototype should be. It was driving Dave crazy because he had worked at IDEO as a designer for several years and has a masters in product design from Stanford -- so he couldn't stand seeing talking as a substitute for prototyping. He told me had had the parts in his garage and could build a prototype in a day, two at most, and asked if he should. I discouraged him from doing so because it would compromise his objectivity and neutrality as an ethnographer. As I have looked back at that advice over the years, I still wonder if I was wrong. Indeed, the product development team was shut down when pretty much the same product they had been talking about hit the market. If Dave had built that prototype, they might have had a shot at getting to market. I also have wondered since then if there really is such at thing as an objective or neutral ethnographer.
In any event, Dave has taken those skills and gone on to quite career. He has been teaching creativity and innovation at Vanderbilt for years and students love him. He has worked with many organizations -- from Dell to NASA to LEGO -- as consultant and even took a break from Vanderbilt to serve as CEO of Griffin Technology. Dave has wrapped all that practical and academic knowledge into a great new book , Creative People Must Be Stopped. I love the cover. Dave has put together an information-rich website for the book. Dave does a great job of showing various impediments to innovation and then offering tactics and strategies for overcoming them in the book-- he has an "Innovation Constraints Survey" you might check-out. The whole book is fun and useful, but perhaps my favorite chapter is "If it is such a great idea, why isn't our competitor doing it?" I can't tell how many times I have heard that creativity killer inside of large companies where people are punished for pressing original ideas.
Let me know what you think of the survey and the book. I read it in galley form and loved it, and i just ordered a copy from Amazon -- I think Dave is sending me one because I did a blurb but I like to support my former students!