Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Whack On The Side Of The Head: How You Can Be More Creative By Roger Von Oech

 
A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative

A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative
By Roger von Oech

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This is the 25th anniversary edition of the creativity classic by Dr. Roger von Oech.

Over the years, A WHACK ON THE SIDE OF THE HEAD has been praised by business people, educators, scientists, homemakers, artists, youth leaders, and many more. The book has been stimulating creativity in millions of readers, translated into eleven languages, and used in seminars around the world.

Now Roger von Oech's fully illustrated and updated volume is filled with even more provocative puzzles, anecdotes, exercises, metaphors, cartoons, questions, quotations, stories, and tips designed to systematically break through your mental blocks and unlock your mind for creative thinking. This new edition will attract an entire new generation of readers with updated and mind-stretching material.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #43755 in Books
  • Published on: 2008-05-05
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 8.50" h x .63" w x 5.50" l, .59 pounds
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 256 pages
Editorial Reviews

About the Author
Roger von Oech is the president of Creative Think, a California-based consulting firm that has conducted creativity seminars with such companies as American Express, Apple Computer, AT&T, CBS, IBM, NBC, and NASA. He earned his doctorate from Stanford University in a self-conceived program in the history of ideas.

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71 of 76 people found the following review helpful.
5Yes, It's True...You Really Can be More Creative
By Robert Morris

This book should be read in combination with A Kick in the Seat of the Pants...and preferably read first. Just a suggestion. Von Oech demonstrates in his thinking and in his writing the same principles he advocates so eloquently. In Whack, first published in 1983, he identifies ten "locks" which limit (if not preclude) creative thinking:

The Right Answer

That's Not Logical

Follow the Rules

Be Practical

Play Is Frivolous

That's Not My Area

Avoid Ambiguity

Don't Be Foolish

To Err Is Wrong

I'm Not Creative

How does each limit (if not preclude) creative thinking? How can each be "unlocked"? To what extent are these barriers interdependent? Von Oech devotes a separate chapter to each of the ten, answering these and other questions while providing various exercises in support of his explanations.

Whack will be immensely valuable to executives in any organization which needs a culture within which to generate and then nourish fresh ideas and new perspectives. The same is true of all self-employed people (especially independent consultants) whose customers or clients expect them to address the same need. Finally, I think that school, college, and university classroom teachers can devise all manner of appropriate applications of von Oech's ideas. When you listen to Richard Feyman's lectures on physics (now available on audio cassettes), you suspect that he has read all of von Oech's books. He probably didn't. Nonetheless, he and von Oech are kindred spirits.

In addition to von Oech's A Kick in the Seat of the Pants, there are other excellent books also worthy of your consideration. They include those written by Edward de Bono, Guy Claxton, Michael Michalko, and Joey Reiman.

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful.
5This book changed my life!!!
By A Customer
This book deserves 8 stars out of 5! My first encounter with this book came when my roommate gave it to me as a Christmas present. She had read it in a creativity course and said this book changed her perception of the world and helped her be more creative.It is clearly organized and very easy to understand. Plus, it gives you the tools to apply its ideas to your problems in order to find creative solutions. Now a year later I give A Whack on the Side of the Head to my friends for Christmas! I also loved his new product on Heraclitus, the ancient Greek philosopher. The cards feature thirty sayings that will make you think about the world and your problems in a whole new way. Kudos Roger von Oech on all your creative thinking tools.

40 of 45 people found the following review helpful.
5THE BEST of all time CREATIVITY BOOKs.
By T SANTOSO
I did seminar and workshop on entrepreneruship and creativity and have read probably about 20 books on creativity. And i have to admit this is the BEST BOOK on creativity. this is THE CLASSIC book on the subject. The author hs just written a new book (EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED) but this onw is WAY SUPERIOR and BETTER.

This is an old book but still freash to read and delighting to enjoy. The samples and the materials are easy to read yet very2 strong and useful.

I gave away this books to friends who want to learn more about creativity and want to change his/her attitude toward life.

Most people know that creativity is one of the key element of success yet so few take action of any sort to do something about it. So do yourself a favor, go and buy this book, read, and start think about it in your daily life. it will be beneficial for your future success and happiness.

http://astore.amazon.com/amazon-everyday-low-prices-sale-deals-bargains-discounts-20/detail/0446404667

 

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Innovator's Solution: Creating And Sustaining Successful Growth By Clayton M. Christensen, Michael E. Raynor

The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth

The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth
By Clayton M. Christensen, Michael E. Raynor

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In the worldwide best seller The Innovator's Dilemma, Clayton M. Christensen exposed a crushing paradox behind the failure of many industry leaders: By doing what good companies were supposed to do--focus on pleasing their most profitable customers--leaders were paving the way for their own demise. How? By ignoring disruptive technologies--new, cheaper innovations that initially target small customer segments but evolve to displace the reigning product.

Now, Christensen and co-author Michael E. Raynor cut the Gordian knot of the innovator's dilemma with The Innovator's Solution. This groundbreaking book reveals that innovation is not as unpredictable as most managers have come to believe. Although the outcomes of past innovations seem random, the process by which innovations are packaged and shaped within companies is very predictable. By understanding and managing the forces that influence this process, companies can shape high-octane business plans that create truly disruptive growth. Drawing on years of in-depth research and using new theories tested in hundreds of companies across many industries, the authors identify the processes that create successful innovations and show managers how to tailor their strategies to the changing circumstances of a dynamic world.
Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #3420 in Books
  • Published on: 2003-09
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 304 pages

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  • ISBN13: 9781578518524
  • Condition: New
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
Christensen (The Innovator's Dilemma) analyzes the strategies that allow corporations to successfully grow new businesses and outpace the other players in the marketplace. Christensen's earlier book examined how focusing on profits can destroy even well-run corporations, while this book focuses on companies expanding by being "disruptors" who are able to outpace their entrenched competition. The authors (Christensen is a professor at Harvard Business School and Raynor, a director at Deloitte Research) examine the nine business decisions integral to growth, including product development, organizational structure, financing and key customer base. They cite such companies as IBM, AT&T, Sony, Microsoft and others to illustrate their points. Generally, the writing is clear and specific. For example, in discussing whether a company has the resources necessary for growth, the authors say, "In order to be confident that managers have developed the skills required to succeed at a new assignment, one should examine the sorts of problems they have wrestled with in the past. It is not as important that managers have succeeded with the problem as it is for them to have wrestled with it and developed the skills and intuition for how to meet the challenge successfully the next time around"; they then provide a real-life example of a software company. Similar important strategies give readers insights that they can use in their own workplaces. People looking for quick fixes may find the charts, diagrams and extensive footnotes daunting, but readers familiar with more technical business management tomes will find this one both stimulating and beneficial.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review
"...[a] thoughtful book..." -- Fortune, November 10, 2003

"...nothing less than a handbook for managers who would rather disrupt than be disrupted." -- Financial Times, October 3, 2003

"...valuable tool for every aspiring upstart--whether you're inside a billion-dollar company or have a billion-dollar glimer in your eye." -- Fast Company, September 2003

"It is a blueprint to guide managers in each step of identifying and launching disruptive technology or service." -- Denver Business Journal, Decemeber 8, 2003

"The Innovator's Solution makes a credible case that established companies can defy the odds after all." -- Business Weekly, October 6, 2003

"…an absorbing new book…" "…a graceful tour of contemporary management thought." -- New York Times, October 19, 2003

About the Author
Clayton M. Christensen is the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, with a joint appointment in Technology & Operations Management and General Management. He is the author of the international bestseller The Innovator's Dilemma (HBS Press, 1997). Michael E. Raynor is a partner at Deloitte Consulting and director of Deloitte Research.

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112 of 127 people found the following review helpful.
5In Praise of a Disruptive Innovation Theory
By Professor Donald Mitchell
The first two chapters of this book are so well thought out and beautifully written that reading them literally made my muscles ache and toes curl. I've never had that strong a reaction to any portion of a business book before.

The Innovator's Solution builds on Professor Christensen's landmark book, The Innovator's Dilemma, and explains how managers can overcome the bias he described in the earlier book toward being blindsided by new entrants bringing disruptive technology and products to bear.

There's so much good material in The Innovator's Solution that it is hard to fairly summarize it.

Let me attempt to give you an overview. The authors point out, based on the studies of others, that few large companies are able to grow faster than average. Worse still for managers, they point out that studies of those few which have grown faster are often contradictory in their findings. Best practices may be nothing more than an accidental reaction to a temporary situation. The authors go on to create a generalized theory of what needs to be done in every situation that a company may face in creating and responding to disruptive technologies and products. It's as though Michael Porter had taken his tomes on competitive advantage and provided a single theory for when to apply what. As such, this is one of the most advanced books for creating management processes for using disruptive technologies and business models to discomfit the competition in profitable ways.

Appreciating Figure 2-3 on page 44 is worth the price of the book alone. The authors have created a graphic to explain how markets develop in growth and competitive characteristics. No one who ever sees this graphic depiction will ever think about competitive and development strategies in the same way again.

Although the authors use examples from many different industries, the most detailed and compelling examples come from technology based companies and industries. I found the Sony examples particularly interesting for their repeated creation of new markets and business models.

The book beautifully elaborates on the thinking processes that companies use to lose competitive advantage . . . and should help many leaders counter these wrong-headed thoughts and instincts.

Why, then, does the book have so much theory? As the authors candidly point out at the end, there are few models for what they are proposing. As a result, they have cobbled together a theory from bits and pieces of concepts that appeal to them and seem to fit with one another. Only with experience can we tell how good this theory is. But it's worth understanding and considering.

The authors seem to have missed the bulk of the examples of companies that have made continuing business model innovations in the last decade. That appears to be because they relied on the published literature prior to 2003 to find examples, rather than doing their own research from scratch. Since continuing business model innovators are seldom written about by academics and consultants, these are a little hard to find. A large number of such innovators appear in service industries, which are relatively little mentioned in The Innovator's Solution. Surprisingly, many continuing business model innovators in software, semiconductors, computer components and medical testing are missing from the book. I suspect that the proposed theory could have been much improved by considering these cases. I look forward to seeing what the authors have to say in the future as they look at more cases.

Without attempting to know if the theories are right or not, I can mention my own subjective reactions. The authors seem to be overly focused on products as compared to business models. It is helpful to use both perspectives as starting points for strategic thinking. Analyzing customer behavior by considering what job customers are trying to do seems to me to be much too simplistic. The most disruptive products, technologies and business models have often created changes in behavior where customers do things for the first time. On the other hand, the points made about how to beat the most powerful competitors, selecting the right target customers, scoping the business correctly, avoiding commoditization, managing strategic development, working with the right sources and amounts of funding, and the role of senior executives struck me as more often on the mark than not based on my own research and experiences. Any of the chapters except chapter 3 would probably make helpful reading for just about anyone.

Don't be put off by the authors' emphasis on theory. They are trying to help make you more practical . . . not more abstract. Think of their theory as being like an operating manual for a new product. You may get better results by having clear instructions rather than relying totally on trial and error.

I was extremely impressed by the gracious and thorough acknowledgments in the book of the thinking and research of others. Even when the authors point out the extreme weaknesses and limitations of a particular piece of work, they praise the positive aspects of that work in kind and thoughtful ways. I cannot remember the last time I read an academic book that took such a considerate approach.

After you finish this book, I suggest that you think through how you can inexpensively create a better and more effective balance between creating the industries of the future and optimizing the businesses of today. Your stakeholders will thank you.

40 of 46 people found the following review helpful.
5Certain to Become a Business "Classic"
By Robert Morris
In a previous work, The Innovator's Dilemma, Christensen examines why so many companies fail to remain competitive "when they confront certain types of market and technological change....the good companies -- the kinds that many managers have admired for years and tried to emulate, the companies known for their abilities to innovate and execute....It is about well-managed companies that have their competitive antennae up, listen astutely to their customers....invest aggressively in new technologies, and yet they still lose market dominance." According to Christensen, the innovator's dilemma occurs when the logical, competent decisions of management which are critical to the success of their companies are also the reasons why they lose their positions of leadership. I wholly agree with Christensen that a given problem must first be fully understood before efforts to solve it are initiated. The challenge is even greater when the given problem poses a dilemma which (in essence) involves a paradox: Whatever has been essential to success can also cause failure. What to do?

In The Innovator's Solution, Christensen and Raynor offer a wealth of strategies and tactics to solve such a dilemma, revealed by their rigorous research on hundreds of different companies. In their book, they summarize "a set of theories that can guide managers who need to grow new businesses with predictable success -- to become disruptors rather than disruptees -- and ultimately kill the well-run, established competitors." More specifically, Christensen and Raynor suggest appropriate responses to situations such as these:

* When a disruptive foothold is needed which competitors "will be happy to ignore or be relieved to walk away from"

* When there are opportunities to help customers "get done more conveniently and inexpensively what they are already trying to get done"

* When a low-end disruption is feasible and a business model is therefore necessary "that can make attractive profits at the discount prices required to capture customers at the low end of the market"

* When determining the criteria for selecting members of a management team for a new venture

NOTE: Christensen and Raynor correctly suggest that among the most important criteria is sufficient prior experience with solving problems comparable with those the new venture seems certain to encounter.

* When disruption (and competing against non-consumption in particular) "requires a longer runway before a steep ascent is possible."

Christensen and Raynor have no illusions whatsoever about the difficulties of creating and then sustaining successful growth, however "growth" may be defined and measured. Moreover, they observe "To our knowledge, no company has been able to build an engine of disruptive growth and keep it running and running."

Among the many reasons why I admire this book so much is its direct relevance to decision-makers in organizations which have already achieved success and seem to sustaining it. Better yet, let's say, these organizations dominate their competition in the given marketplace. As Christensen and Raynor explain so convincingly, the causes of that success may well prove to be the causes of eventual failure. Therefore, all organizations (regardless of size or nature) must be involved in what Schumpeter once described as "creative destruction,"especially when highly successful, inorder to free themselves from what O'Toole calls "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom." As I see it, there are two options which can be posed in a question: Would you rather have creative but prudent "destruction" within your organization or have your organization disrupted (perhaps obliterated) by its competition? Well duh.

For many decision-makers who read The Innovator's Solution, I think it will prove be the most valuable business book they ever read. Why? Because it will guide and inform their efforts with associates to design, activate, and then maintain "a well-functioning disruptive growth engine." Even then, they must keep it mind that no such mechanism will keep "running and running" forever. Improvisation and adaptability are imperative. Eventually, a new "engine" will be required but at least they will possess the knowledge and experience needed to produce another one.

31 of 36 people found the following review helpful.
5Illuminates Disruptive Innovation, Why Manager's Fail At It
By Robert D. Steele
Edited 20 Dec 07 to add links to natural capitalism books

I was talking to a friend the other day about why major (multi-billion dollar a year) companies are not good at innovation, and he recommended this book. Wow! Looking at the companies I know and admire, it all became clear. Innovation *is* disruptive; the most promising marketplace is the opposite of their existing defense and intelligence clients--the people that do not get adequate intelligence support from the existing cash cow; and all of the middle and senior managers (Washington-based) are incrementalists who had succeeded at building bodies-for-hire accounts over decades.

For those who feel an intuitive faith in disruptive endeavors, this book is inspiring and also instructional. It specifically suggests that entrants will beat incumbents when the objective is to substitute lower-cost good-enough solutions for client needs that are not satisfied by high end production. However, it also makes clear that the *last* place you want to sell disruptive solutions in to is the existing high end client base. Go for new customers and new contexts.

In government intelligence terms: stop trying to teach the spies that they need to do a better job on open sources of information in 33+ languages. Instead, go after the Departments of State, Commerce, Treasury, Agriculture, Homeland Security, and the elements of the Department of Defense that do not get adequate classified intelligence support. Establish Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) as a viable endeavor there, and in ten years come back and crush the spies in head on competition.

Three "litmus tests" that the authors put forward are very helpful to those seeking to monetize disruptive new ideas:

1) Is there a population of clients that has historically been under-funded, under-staffed, and have as a result *gone without*?
2) Is this group likely to appreciate lower cost "good enough" solutions?
3) Is it possible to be profitable while providing these clients lower cost good enough solutions (e.g. monitoring risk around the world, at the sub-state level, something the spies simply cannot do effectively despite their $50 billion a year budget)?

Another major lesson I drew from this book is that alternative channels can be phenomenally successful. One example the book uses: instead of selling low-cost throw away cameras through photography shops oriented to high-end perfectionists, move them into grocery stores and discount stores for the low-end market that could not afford a traditional camera. This *makes sense.* Hence, instead of trying to sell low-cost open source services to the people who think they have the most to lose from promoting them (the mandarins of the high-cost secrets), go instead to the least well-served end-users, the logisticians, acquisition managers, diplomats, etcetera, and get them to test localized rather than centralized solutions that then "explode" as other end-users see the low-cost success and emulate through decentralized adoption of new best practices.

The last half of the book is loaded with stuff useful to how I am going to structure my relationship with any major corporation--it focuses on a number of key factors including scale, profitability over growth, proprietary end to end solutions in the beginning, transitioning rapidly to open distributed solutions at the right moment, and ensuring that the team members are *not* (NOT) incrementalist line managers that succeeded by going along within a status quo system.

The following quote captures my perception of the imperfection of the guys at the top that don't get it: "In many ways, the managers that corporate executives have come to trust the most because they have consistently delivered the needed results in core businesses cannot be trusted to shepherd the creation of new growth." (Page 183).

The book goes on to discuss the conflict between the traditional processes of managing traditional businesses, the conflict between traditional business values versus those of disruptive innovators (who can tend to alienate and aggravate executives used to having life just so), and between the "pace" of big organizations that need 12 months to think about an opportunity, and small "fleet of foot" innovators that can evaluate, act, write a proposal, and win million-dollar jobs over a week-end.

The authors are generally negative about business unit consolidation, and make the point that the bigger the business gets, the more process takes precedence over people. They specifically caution against a strategy of acquisition as a means of growth, documenting the terrible toll this can take as a cash flow drain, in essence saying that really big growth cannot come from incrementalist approaches. I put the book down with the feeling that the really big companies need to think seriously about launching spin-offs, as Charles Schwab did, and the really small companies, like mine, have a fighting shot at beating the hell out of the established beltway bandits who are too slow, too arrogant, and too rich to be serious about innovation for the future.

This book made me smile, and it made me think. Super piece of work.

Here are some recently published books that can be combined with this one to reintegrate and re-energize our economy:
The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism: How the Financial System Underminded Social Ideals, Damaged Trust in the Markets, Robbed Investors of Trillions - and What to Do About It
Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming
Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution
The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (Wharton School Publishing Paperbacks)
The Ecology of Commerce
Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things
One from Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization

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The Innovator's DNA: Mastering The Five Skills Of Disruptive Innovators By Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, Clayton M. Christensen

The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators

The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators
By Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, Clayton M. Christensen

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Are you the next Steve Jobs?

You could be as innovative and impactful—if you can change your behaviors to improve your creative impact.

In The Innovator's DNA, authors Jeffrey Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and bestselling author Clayton Christensen (The Innovator's Dilemma, The Innovator's Solution) build on what we know about disruptive innovation to show how individuals can develop the skills necessary to move progressively from idea to impact.

By identifying behaviors of the world's best innovators—from leaders at Amazon and Apple to those at Google, Skype, and Virgin Group—the authors outline five discovery skills that distinguish innovative entrepreneurs and executives from ordinary managers: Associating, Questioning, Observing, Networking, and Experimenting.

Once you master these competencies (the authors provide a self assessment for rating your own innovator's DNA), the authors explain how you can generate ideas, collaborate with colleagues to implement them, and build innovation skills throughout your organization to sharpen its competitive edge. That innovation advantage can translate into a premium in your company's stock price—an innovation premium—which is possible only by building the code for innovation right into your organization's people, processes, and guiding philosophies.

Practical and provocative, The Innovator's DNA is an essential resource for individuals and teams who want to strengthen their innovative prowess.
 
Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #1387 in Books
  • Published on: 2011-07-19
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 304 pages
Editorial Reviews

Review

"the book is easy to read, jammed with examples and, at a time when innovation is a beacon, offers an interesting model to consider." – Globe & Mail

"Businesses worldwide have been guided and influenced by The Innovator's Dilemma and The Innovator's Solution. Now The Innovator's DNA shows where it all starts. This book gives you the fundamental building blocks for becoming more innovative and changing the world. One of the most important books to come out this year, and one that will remain pivotal reading for years to come." – Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO, salesforce.com; author, Behind the Cloud

"The Innovator's DNA is the 'how to' manual to innovation, and to the fresh thinking that is the root of innovation. It has dozens of simple tricks that any person and any team can use today to discover the new ideas to solve the important problems. Buy it now and read it tonight. Tomorrow you will learn more, create more, inspire more." – Scott D. Cook, Chairman of the Executive Committee, Intuit Inc.

"The Innovator's DNA sheds new light on the once-mysterious art of innovation by showing that successful innovators exhibit common behavioral habits—habits that can boost anyone's creative capacity." – Stephen R. Covey, author, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The Leader in Me

"Having worked with Clayton Christensen on innovation for over a decade, I can see that The Innovator's DNA continues to stretch our thinking with insights that challenge convention and enable progress in the important cause of innovation . . . so critical to competitiveness and growth." – A.G. Lafley, retired Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, The Procter & Gamble Company

About the Author

Jeffrey Dyer is the Horace Beesley Professor of Strategy at the Marriott School, Brigham Young University. He is widely published in strategy and business journals and was the fourth most cited management scholar in 1996-2006. Hal Gregersen is a professor of leadership at INSEAD. He consults to organizations around the world on innovation, globalization, and transformation and has published extensively in leading academic and business journals. Clay Christensen is the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and the architect of and the world's foremost authority on disruptive innovation.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful.
5"Where do disruptive ideas come from?"
By Karl @ The Startup Daily
Companies that are seen as innovators command an "innovation premium" in the market, and for good reason. These are the companies that not only adapt to changing conditions, but lead the way through them.

The five discovery skills--building blocks of innovation--that are identified in this book were arrived at through extensive research (8 years and over 100 interviews), which separates it from the bulk of the existing books on innovation that too often trumpet a methodology that worked in one case at one organization as being a universal solution.

The surprising revelation is that these five building blocks are behaviors, not traits that you are either born with or will never have. These are habits that can be learned and mastered through practice.

Although the ideas will be familiar to readers on creativity and innovation, they take on new meaning when presented in this context and prioritized based on the researcher's findings. For example, two of the five behaviors are universal and appear to be essential, while the other three showed up frequently, but not every one of those behaviors is practiced in every case.

The later part of this book gives practical ideas on how to integrate these habits into the 3P's (people, processes, and philosophies) of an organization.

I had high expectations for this book and it did not disappoint.

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful.
5Common Traits of Successful Innovators.
By AdamSmythe
I suspect that if this book is half as successful and influential as "The Innovator's Dilemma" (by Clayton Christensen, one of this book's three authors), then people will be quoting "The Innovator's DNA" for a long time. (If you haven't already read "The Innovator's Dilemma," I certainly recommend it, although it isn't a prerequisite.)

It is interesting that the authors chose "The Innovator's DNA" as their title, because when I think of DNA, I think of that which is hard-wired within us. However, perhaps the key point of this book is that our ability to create innovative ideas is not simply a function of the hard-wiring in our minds, but also an important function of our behaviors. This important point is based on the authors' extensive research (see below), which also shows that innovative companies are almost always led by innovative leaders. By the way, it's business creativity that the authors address, not artistic creativity.

So if we want to help start (or simply identify) innovative companies, we should focus on their leaders' behaviors. That's what constitutes the main thrust of this book. Through many interviews and detailed research the authors collected data from hundreds of innovators and thousands of executives (more data is on the authors' website), looking for the origins of innovative business ideas. The results of their study were first published in a leading academic journal, Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, and then later published in another article that was the runner-up for the 2009 Harvard Business Review McKinsey Award. Ultimately, this book introduces the results to the general public, which will likely find it to be both understandable and enlightening. This is definitely not some dry academic study.

Many of the innovators (or their companies) studied for the book will be familiar to most readers: Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Michael Dell, Richard Branson, Howard Schultz (Starbucks), Scott Cook (Intuit), Peter Thiel (PayPal), Pierre Omidyar (eBay), Niklas Zennstrom (Skype) and many others.

Sure, all people are different (including innovators), but the authors' research shows that in most cases there are a number of common denominators within successful innovators. The flow of the authors' thinking is summarized nicely in a diagram on page 27. Simplifying, creative innovators (1) have the courage to innovate, as shown in their ability to challenge the status quo and take risks; (2) incorporate the behavioral skills of observing, questioning, networking and experimenting, which lead to (3) associative thinking that ultimately leads to innovative business ideas.

Interestingly, I think some of the book's chapter subtitles best summarize the various chapters' content. For example, rather than look at Chapter 2's formal title, "Discovery Skill # 1--Associating," consider the expressive subtitle, which is a quote from Steve Jobs: "Creativity is connecting things." Here are a few more chapter subtitles:

Chapter 3: "Question the unquestionable." (Ratan Tata, Tata Group)

Chapter 5: "What a person does on his own, without being stimulated by the thoughts and experiences of others, is even in the best of cases rather paltry and monotonous." (Albert Einstein, on collaboration/networking)

Chapter 6: "I haven't failed ... I've just found 10,000 ways that do not work." (Thomas Edison)

There's more, of course, but you get the idea. There are a number of helpful self-assessments in the book, along with a reasonably small number of clear charts and figures. All in all, the book is easy to read, hard to put down, and helpful not only for budding entrepreneurs, but also the rest of us.

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful.
5How and why disruptive innovators maximize creative impact
By Robert Morris

As is true of others who have written business books that also offer breakthrough insights, the authors of this one set out to answer an especially important question: "Where do disruptive business models come from?" What Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton Christensen concluded is shared in this book. It's too early to be certain, of course, but I think this book is destined to become a "business classic," as have so many of the other books that Christensen has authored or co-authored. It is worth noting that The Innovator's DNA emerged from an eight-year collaborative study, suggesting that its information, insights, and counsel are research-driven, anchored in the real world.

Some of the most valuable material was generated by interviews of dozens of "inventors of revolutionary products and services as well as founders and CEOs of game-changing companies build on innovative ideas." They also include what they learned from Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, and Howard Schultz (whom they did not interview) whose innovative thinking has transformed entire industries. "We wanted to understand as much about these people as possible, including the moment (when and how) they came up with the creative ideas that launched new products or businesses."

The title of this book refers to an aggregate of five primary discovery skills that enable various innovative entrepreneurs and executives to generate breakthrough ideas. "A critical insight from our research is that one's ability to generate innovative ideas is not merely the function of the mind, but also a function of behaviors. This is good news for us all because it means that if we change our behaviors, we can change our creative impact."

It should also be noting that an abundance of entrepreneurial research throughout the past 17-20 years reveals that, in terms of personality traits or psychometric measures, entrepreneurs do not differ significantly from typical (even traditional) business executives. My take is that almost anyone in almost any workplace can develop the five discovery skills. The extent and velocity of that development will largely depend on leadership. "The bottom line: If you want innovation [enterprise wide], you need creativity skills within the top management team of your company."

The co-authors include a disclaimer (sort of): "First, engaging in the discovery skills doesn't ensure financial success...Second, failure (in a financial sense) often results from not being vigilant in engaging all the discovery skills...Third, we spotlight different innovators and innovative companies to illustrate key ideas or principles, but not [repeat NOT] to set them up as perfect examples of how to be innovative."

The five Discovery Skills are hardly head-snappers: Associating with stimuli (mind, heart, and five senses); Questioning anything and everything, especially one's assumptions and premises; Observing with intent and intensity, noting what many others miss; Networking by connecting people as well as dots while accessing new (i.e. unfamiliar) resources; and Experimenting (e.g. test the untested, disassemble and deconstruct, prototype, add new knowledge). In the most innovative organizations or portions thereof, all five are institutionalized in terms of incentives and rewards, division of labor, allocating resources, transparency, cross-functional collaboration, recognition/celebration, and (yes) protection for prudent but bold risk-takers.

Not everyone is willing and/or able to thrive in such a culture. Disruption is by nature messy, unpredictable, confusing, upsetting, and often threatening. When Joseph Schumpeter introduced the process of "creative destruction," his ultimate objective was, in fact, creative creation. Just as Albert Einstein urges us to make everything as simple as possible but no simpler, Schumpeter urges us to destroy everything except what is essential...and then build on that. The authors of this book urge us to strengthen the five skills through individual and team initiatives that are guided and informed by a business model that, if it is designed properly, will be continuously self-disruptive.

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Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs
By Walter Isaacson

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Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.

At a time when America is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge, and when societies around the world are trying to build digital-age economies, Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the twenty-first century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering.  

Although Jobs cooperated with this book, he asked for no control over what was written nor even the right to read it before it was published. He put nothing off-limits. He encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly. And Jobs speaks candidly, sometimes brutally so, about the people he worked with and competed against. His friends, foes, and colleagues provide an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry, and compulsion for control that shaped his approach to business and the innovative products that resulted.

Driven by demons, Jobs could drive those around him to fury and despair. But his personality and products were interrelated, just as Apple's hardware and software tended to be, as if part of an integrated system. His tale is instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership, and values.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #1 in Books
  • Published on: 2011-10-24
  • Released on: 2011-10-24
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 656 pages
Editorial Reviews

About the Author
Walter Isaacson, the CEO of the Aspen Institute, has been chairman of CNN and the managing editor of Time magazine. He is the author of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life and of Kissinger: A Biography, and the coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and daughter.

Jacket photograph by Albert Watson

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Most helpful customer reviews

128 of 146 people found the following review helpful.
5Story of the man who put a dent in the universe. Well worth reading.
By Dr. Chuck Chakrapani
Steve Jobs wanted to change the world, "put a dent in the universe." And he did. If you are interested in life and want to know how Jobs changed it right before our eyes, you should read this book.

No other book on Jobs has been based on first hand information from the Master himself, his colleagues and his detractors. There is no other way to know the man who changed the way we live and work. The fact that the book is engaging is a big bonus.

First Jobs' personal life, personality and beliefs. Like all fascinating people in history, Jobs was a bundle of contradictions. Born out of wedlock, he was an American icon and yet born of a Syrian Muslim whom he never knew, but had accidentally met. Adopted at birth by working class parents, he became skeptical of the Church as the all-knowing god did not help the starving children in Biafra and alternated between being a believer and a non-believer. He was, at different times, a vegan and a fruitarian (hence the name Apple). Jobs was influenced by the counter cultural ideas of the 60's and the 70's and yet become one of the most revered corporate figures of all time. He was a multi-billionaire who lived on a regular street with no high fenced compound, security or live-in servants; a Zen Buddhist who was obsessed with Zen-like simplicity but did not possess Zen-like tranquility; a son who tried to abandon his child like the way he had thought he was abandoned; a leader who was highly demanding of his colleagues and coworkers; a vastly influential figure in computing who neither built computers not wrote codes himself; a genius who was mean to many people. All these factoids had to have some influence on who he was and who he became and may keep interested psychologists busy for years. Yet, it is not for these tabloid fodder that he is looked upon with awe. To get caught up in the contradictions of a man is to miss the man.

So who is the man then? Isaacson presents Jobs life and work as a play in three acts.

During the first act, two unlikely partners named Steves (Jobs and Woz) create the world's first commercially viable personal computer, Apple II. Jobs then creates the revolutionary but unsuccessful Lisa. Apple goes public, Jobs creates the Mac, which carves itself a distinct niche. He then brings in Pepsi's Scully to manage the company only to find himself ousted from the company he founded. During his exile Jobs creates another revolutionary but not-so-successful computer NeXT. But Jobs other venture, Pixar, an outstanding animation company, is a huge commercial success.

The second act is Jobs' return to Apple. Apple was in decline and it buys the money losing NeXT. Job returns to the company he founded as the interim CEO. Introduces a series of products: peppermint colored iMacs followed b y 21st Century Macs.

The third act is the post-pc revolution, the most dramatic of all: the creation of ipod (almost 10 years ago to the day), paradigm-changing iphone and the category-creating ipad, along with many other things and cloud computing. We can't imagine a world today without ipads, ipods and iphones. The rewards are high. Apple first surpasses Microsoft and becomes the most valuable tech company. Then Apple becomes, for brief periods of time, the most valuable company in the world.

But this is not the story of Apple, but of Job. What was happening in the background while the three act play is being staged - to his family, his health, his odd beliefs that might have cost him his life, and his relationships with other giants of technology - is the focus of this book. The story is told with many interesting anecdotes such as Bill Gates incredulously exclaiming "Do ALL of you live here?" when visiting for the first time Steve Jobs' modest house.

This is an "authorized biography" and I'm wary of "authorized" biographies. Always thought they were full-length PR pieces. This one is different. Jobs gave Isaacson complete freedom to write the book and Jobs didn't demand editorial control. He didn't even want to see the book before it was published. And it shows. You see Jobs as he was. Warts and all. This is Jobs' last gift to those of us who admired his vision of the world, but wondered about the essence of the man behind it all. Now we know.

As you finish reading Job's biography of nearly 600 pages, something strikes you as odd. Steve Jobs' death is not mentioned in the book. Not the date, not the time and not even the fact that he is no more. Strangely fascinating. Like the man himself.

212 of 264 people found the following review helpful.
3Adequate, but not excellent
By R. Bourne
This new, highly-anticipated bio is reasonably comprehensive in scope, but written in a plodding, subjectively fawning fashion that undercuts its impact. Mr. Isaacson doesn't hail from the technology world, and it shows; his feel for the real importance of Jobs' accomplishments is largely constrained to social impact (of the fuzzy, gee-whiz sort) rather than crucial areas of interface, functionality and convergence. Why do Apple's products really work? What impact will they have on how we interact with the digital world, tomorrow and after? Isaacson has no idea. All he seems to know is that 'simplicity' is good, and that 'design' is more than skin deep. And that the little things matter. Millions upon millions of people already know that; the opportunity missed here is to go deep on the subject, and unpack it. That doesn't happen here, because the writer is out of his element.

Apart from that, we learn that Jobs was basically an ass, and that he cried a lot when he didn't get his way. It's implied that he carried a narcissistic disorder, but that's never really explored -- to the book's detriment, as psychiatric context is pretty important to understand how a comprehensive tyrant could achieve so much, and improve the productivity and satisfaction of so many.

The book is also overlong -- a remarkable thing given the richness of the subject. It's written almost as a sequential fact-finding report, rather than as a truly insightful look at a man and his work. We come away with the impression that strong-willed CEOs can do what they want, as long as they make money for shareholders and impart a sense of accomplishment (however painfully won) to their underlings. Not exactly a revelation, but it takes more than 600 pages for Isaacson to drive the point home.

I'm glad we have this bio, but I suspect someone will come along and write a much better treatment of Jobs' life. For now, don't expect to learn any larger truths about Jobs and his world; just enjoy the anecdotes, and prepare to make your own conclusions about the book's fascinating subject.

24 of 28 people found the following review helpful.
4Left me wanting more
By justin
I finished reading it today, two short days after it was first available.
The book is a must read for anyone interested in how Steve Jobs did it, but with the following caveats.

First, I didn't find it particularly well written. To take one trivial but annoying example the word lapidary is used twice in short succession (describing the skills of both Jobs and Gates). I found the writing style dull, it lacked the fireworks of the subject. Luckily Jobs is always there to make things interesting.

Second, the book at first seems long however when you subtract the large index, and other supporting pages it shrinks. This isn't any problem except there are giant holes left for future biographers. An example: AT&T is not even mentioned once in the text! There are exactly zero words written on how Jobs convinced The Phone Company to cede so much control to the iphone. I feel like Jobs revealed a lot of his early life but the last 10 years, the most productive and interesting ones, got fairly fast treatment. Another example: at one point it is revealed that Apple has 70,000 workers in China and 15,000 engineer managers (a figure not even available to hire in the USA). I'm sure Jobs was all over this, yet there is no further exploration.

Third, in retrospect I found the constant repetition of the Jobs reality distortion zone, and his habit of being cruel, well ... repetitive! By his third cruel action honestly all that can be said about unkind Steve had been said. Further digressions and speculations on his personal motivations and so on just never added anything new.

One thought on the legacy of Jobs: Isaacson concludes that despite his flaws, he deserves to be alongside the very few greats (Edison, Ford) in the industrialist hall of fame yet I wonder if the greats of yesterday would appear so great if they had had their life, and particular personal flaws, examined and documented in such detail, and so quickly after their death. A totally impartial judge, with the same level of detail on each life, not just the burnished successes, might well place Jobs ahead of the giants to which he is now thought equal.

PS: It is a shame that the book does not come with links to YouTube videos and other supporting information. For many of the key events and people in the book if you search you can find the original material (videos etc) that are so much more than the paragraph that describes them. I stopped frequently and switched to a browser. What a shame the e-book about such an amazing (and tech oriented) life, describing the pursuit of perfection, could not include even one link.

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Steve Jobs (Chinese Edition) By Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs (Chinese Edition)

Steve Jobs (Chinese Edition)
By Walter Isaacson

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"When Mike Moritz was still a reporter of Time in 1980s, Steve Jobs gave him the access to his life and all aspects of Apple with no limits. Steve was so rarely open because he believed he would design the first computer close to the soul Mac. He wanted someone to record the process. But in the interview, Moritz heard some bad information: Steve Jobs had a illegitimate daughter whom he was unwilling to admit. Thus, a computer eventually became the Person of the Year"" of ""Time"" rather than the 27-year-old Apple founder Steve Jobs. It caused two results: first, the Little Kingdom: The Private Story of Apple Computer - a foundational work of the biography of Steve Jobs and Apple; second, Steve Jobs decided to close his heart to all the reporters. Because of the Little Kingdom , Moritz and Jobs became enemies. Also because of the Little Kingdom , Moritz got to know Don. Valentine, founder of the Sequoia Capital, and joined the most famous venture capital firm in Silicon Valley and recognized worldwide as the ""Godfather of Venture"". In 2009, since Moritz wanted to look at Steve Jobs achievements from a more mature perspective, he revised this book and published it known as Return to the Little Kingdom .

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #31555 in Books
  • Published on: 2011-12-05
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 560 pages
 
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