cover image Idea Agent: Leadership That Liberates Creativity and Accelerates Innovation

Idea Agent: Leadership That Liberates Creativity and Accelerates Innovation

Lina M. Echeverría. Amacom, $27.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8144-3217-4

A geologist-turned-manager at Corning, Echeverría proves skillful at managing scientists to develop cutting-edge products, such as the glass panels used for televisions and other displays. The book’s strength is in Echeverría’s personal stories, from standing up for herself as a Stanford graduate student to mentoring physicists. She boldly addresses the challenges facing women and gays in the workplace—topics that are often missing from leadership books. Yet as soon as Echeverría attempts to generalize her experience, the book collapses into clichés. The book jumps around her career, organizing her experiencing loosely around so-called “Seven Passions of Innovation.” These vague concepts include “insisting on excellence and results.” At the sentence level, Echeverría is downright confusing: “While acknowledging that companies often stifle their creative talent by leaving it hidden in the working trenches and instead end up developing carbon copy leaders who don’t innovate, recommendations often focus on establishing strong, clearly articulated, and clearly implemented leadership competency models....” If Echeverría had trusted her own creativity as much as she trusts that of her scientists, this could have been a powerful book by a true pathfinder. Instead it is a generic business book by an ungeneric leader. (Nov.)