Malcolm Gladwell is
clever. Anyone who has read his books can quickly deduce this.
However, perhaps what is most clever about Malcolm Gladwell is that he
recognizes that cleverness is not necessarily all about being smart.
In fact, most of the
truly great things that people get credit for were not really invented by
them. Henry Ford did not invent much truly new, he just was exceptional
at making it work together. Andrew Hargadon had a recent
post on his blog about this issue as well, but for every great invention /
business / whatever you can name, I can find three people who could probably
lay claim at the idea first.
It’s not that ideas are
not precious, or necessary, it’s just that they are not enough. Malcolm
Gladwell is best known for several books (Tipping Point, Blink, etc.) that take
well established ideas from many domains, repackage and add new insights, and
make him into an icon. The fact that most of these ideas are not original
Gladwell creations does not diminish his contribution, and he’d be the first to
tell you it was not all him. It’s about putting things together in the
right context, with the right people, and sometimes the right business model.
This simple insight could
be pretty influential for those who seek big ideas. Be an idea harvester,
not just an idea creator.Michael Mannor is a professor of business strategy at the University of Notre Dame and blogs on
issues of creativity, innovation and strategy with a focus on highlighting
people and organizations that inspire in their efforts to make a positive impact
in the world. Visit his blog at mikemannor.wordpress.com/.