The New York Times – Excerpt:
Mr. Burt has spent most of his career studying how creative, competitive people relate to the rest of the world, and how ideas move from place to place. Often the value of a good idea, he has found, is not in its origin but in its delivery. His observation will undoubtedly resonate with overlooked novelists, garage inventors and forgotten geniuses who pride themselves on their new ideas but aren’t successful in getting them noticed. “Tracing the origin of an idea is an interesting academic exercise, but it’s largely irrelevant,” Mr. Burt said. “The trick is, can you get an idea which is mundane and well known in one place to another place where people would get value out of it.”
“Although managers with discussion partners in other groups were positioned to spread good ideas across business units,” he writes, “the people they cited for idea discussion were overwhelmingly colleagues already close in their informal discussion network.” The result was that the ideas were not developed. Instead, he says, they should have had discussions outside their typical contacts, particularly with what calls an informal boss, a person with enough power to be an ally but not an actual supervisor.