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Brainsteering: A Better Approach to Breakthrough Ideas Hardcover – March 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; 1 edition (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062006193
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062006196
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #911,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Tired of interminable brainstorming sessions dominated by a few bloviating blowhards--and rarely resulting in a usable idea? Good news: it's not only frustrating, it's been proven to be ineffective. While we all need a regular influx of breakthrough ideas, there's got to be a better way of sparking that creativity--and the brothers Coyne present a cogent way of doing it. They introduce readers to techniques for asking the right questions and sparking more powerful ideas. The concept underlying "brainsteering" is to encourage users to focus, to look into an idea deeply rather than ricocheting around, brainstorming-style. The Coynes present a number of real and proposed business cases, including successes like Forever Stamps and Jiffy Lube. Their logical thinking exercises will help readers to maximize their ideation skills, both by systematically exploring every possible nook and cranny of an issue to find new ideas, and by systematically evaluating and honing the results. (Mar.)
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Review

“[The Coynes’] logical thinking exercises will help readers to maximize their ideation skills, both by systematically exploring every possible nook and cranny of an issue to find new ideas, and by systematically evaluating and honing the results.” (Publishers Weekly)

“The authors pepper their narrative with [...] idea-sparkers, with an appendix that is worth the cover price… [I]f the book evokes a few creative ideas, it will have done good service.” (Kirkus Reviews)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Phillips VINE VOICE on March 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
As the number of books about idea generation and innovation grows, it becomes more and more difficult to differentiate the books and their messages. Many, at first, paid homage to Alex Osborn and the other people who laid the foundations for business creativity and innovation. Lately, it has become more popular to point out all of the shortcomings of the creative problem solving approach as described by Osborne, and especially lay all the problems of innovation at the feet of that favorite whipping boy, the ubiquitous brainstorm.

It should come as no surprise to anyone, anywhere, that a frequently used technique like brainstorming is often poorly applied or misused. Even less surprising in today's environment is the discovery that some executives use brainstorming as a means to their own agendas, or that teams don't spend enough time preparing to generate ideas. If these "revelations" are news to you, you've missed quite a bit of the commentary on innovation.

So, what are we to say about "Brainsteering", the new book from Kevin and Shawn Coyne? The subtitle promises "A Better Approach To Breakthrough Ideas". The Coyne brothers present Brainsteering - their title for their approach to idea generation - as if it were wholly new and completely different. But the approach they describe is what most innovation practitioners would recognize as simply good idea generation methodology.

The Coyne brothers, like others who have written about idea generation recently, take great pains to identify all that's wrong with a traditional brainstorm. They recognize that executives may have unstated agendas, and that different power levels in a brainstorm may result in pre-conceived ideas.
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Format: Hardcover
Kevin Coyne and Shawn Coyne respond to that question by providing in this volume an abundance of valuable information, insights, caveats, and recommendations that quickly identify the "what" and then focus intensively on the "why" and "how" of what they characterize as "a better approach to breakthrough ideas." Heaven knows there are dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of books already in print that make the same claim. My own opinion is that the Coynes' approach is comprehensive, cohesive, and cost-effective...and one of the best I have as yet encountered.

Their approach is research- and results-driven, based on two core principles: (1) "If you ask the right questions, answers and good ideas soon follow" and (2) "The right process for consistently generating breakthrough ideas looks very different from what [most people have] probably been taught." In other words, asking the right questions and following the right process will "steer" the brain to the right answers.

It is worth noting that the material provided is based on revelations generated by more than 200 McKinsey client projects, refined further by other real-world applications of insights and practices. The Coynes come across to me as being diehard pragmatists who are determined to share everything they have learned about establishing and then sustaining a process by which to generate new and better ideas all day, every day, and even on demand.

The exemplary breakthroughs they cite include easily portable personal computers (How to create one that fits into an overhead bin on an airplane?), direct sales of personal computers (How to by-pass costs and complications of the retail channel?
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lauren on March 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Great book. Heard about it on Gabe Wisdom's talk show as I was driving home from work last week, and now that I've read it I wish I'd known this stuff sooner. After wasting way too much time in corporate brainstorming sessions over the past 20 years, I can relate to all the problems they describe, and their new approach makes perfect sense. Also like the fact that they offer so many tips on how to think up new ideas even if I'm working by myself. Two favorite sections are Part I about "asking the right questions" and Part IV about "how to create your own billion-dollar idea". And there's tons of examples -- favorite one was the Harvard swimmer who first invented the dolphin kick and went from freshman squad nobody to Olympic gold medal winner.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nick McCormick on October 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Brainstorming is out! Brainsteering is in! The Coyne brothers make the case that brainstorming is ineffective. One reason is that it's so open-ended and overwhelming in its lack of boundaries that it actually hinders creativity.

Their alternative is to "steer" the ideation process by focusing on important questions. They supply a bunch of them in the appendix to help the reader get started. The questions are broken down into categories, depending on the type of problem to be solved, such as questions to help create a new product or service, or questions to find ways to trim costs. The authors also provide suggestions for helping the readers create their own questions.

It's an entertaining read with an interesting approach to idea creation. Give it a read and you'll be anxious to give brainsteering a shot.

Nick McCormick, Author, Lead Well and Prosper, and Acting Up Brings Everyone Down
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