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Leapfrogging: Harness the Power of Surprise for Business Breakthroughs [Kindle Edition]

Soren Kaplan , Marshall Goldsmith
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

How did Gatorade revitalize itself in the wake of Red Bull and Starbucks? How did OpenTable come to be? What makes one company thrive while others languish in mediocrity? There’s no doubt hard work is involved, but Soren Kaplan shows you can’t do it by simply creating a big vision and implementing a set plan. In his trailblazing debut, Kaplan gives business leaders the tools to do exactly what they’re taught to avoid: embrace surprise—the new key to business breakthroughs.

Instead of fighting against uncertainty, Kaplan reveals how to use it to break down limiting mindsets and barriers to change the game. By highlighting specific ways to transform both good and bad surprises into unique opportunities, Kaplan encourages leaders to compete by embracing counterintuitive ideas, managing paradoxes, and even welcoming failure. This is the key to “leapfrogging”—creating or doing something radically new or different that produces a significant leap forward.

Leapfrogging connects new research, unconventional strategies, and practical tools for navigating the “messy” and elusive process of achieving business breakthroughs. Filled with real-world examples from innovators such as Gatorade, Intuit, Philips, Kimberly-Clark, Colgate-Palmolive, OpenTable, and Etsy, Kaplan shows that any organization or business function can leapfrog. Using his LEAPS process (Listen, Explore, Act, Persist, and Seize), leaders learn to seek out, recognize, and respond to surprising experiences and events as a way to create solutions that leap beyond the current expectations of customers, partners, employees, the market, and the competition. Kaplan’s Leapfrogging is the new handbook for the modern leader.

Editorial Reviews


Leapfrogging challenges its readers to break out of conventional thinking by employing a few simple notions: know who you are, stay true to your purpose, and enjoy the journey along the way. By showcasing examples of challenging conventional thinking, embracing surprise, and welcoming failure as a learning exercise, Kaplan invites readers to learn from the stories of others. Leapfrogging shows that leaders who look inward to challenge the status quo will be on track to truly change the game.”
—Sarah Robb O’Hagan, President, Gatorade

“Breakthroughs in business don’t follow set formulas. We must continually explore options, test, and modify our assumptions based on results and feedback. Then, we can adapt to what we experience and learn. Leapfrogging delivers new principles and tools that readers can apply to their business, whether they’re just starting out or leading an established organization. It is the new guide for entrepreneurs and leaders in today’s environment.”
—Glenn Allen, cofounder, OpenTable

“We as business leaders are always talking about, but rarely find, the key to lasting breakthroughs in the organizations we lead. We push and persist and still get incremental results. Leapfrogging is an extremely useful and insightful handbook for managers on how to finally break the cycle of incremental innovation.”
—Dr. Ric Roi, Senior Vice President, Global Center of Excellence; Head, Consulting Practice Leader, Asia Pacific Right Management/Manpower Group

“Superbly crafted, powerful in its simplicity, offering smart, actionable learning… Finally, a simple, holistic model that allows for breakthrough thinking and living.”
—Mary Beth Robles, Vice President, Innovation Capabilities and Knowledge Systems, Colgate-Palmolive

“Creating breakthroughs requires new approaches to how we engage in learning as leaders ourselves and as organizations. Leapfrogging reveals strategies for engaging people in the type of experiential learning that challenges assumptions and leads to breakthroughs.”
—Anne Blouin, CAE, Chief Learning Officer, ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership

About the Author

Soren Kaplan has worked within large corporations, founded and advises start-ups, consults to global companies, and educates students and executives about the art and discipline of strategic thinking, innovation, and leadership for business breakthroughs. His unique ability to uncover surprises that are "hidden in plain sight" helps leaders shift their mindsets to rethink and reinvent their organizations.

As a Managing Principal of InnovationPoint, Soren leads strategic initiatives and provides leadership development for organizations including Cisco, Colgate-Palmolive, Disney, Medtronic, Philips, Visa, and numerous other firms. He is an Adjunct Professor within the Imagineering Academy at NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences in The Netherlands. He has a Ph.D. degree in Organizational Psychology and resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, two daughters, and hypo-allergenic cat.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2291 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers; 1 edition (August 6, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #539,579 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leapfrogging Makes Sense!!! August 6, 2012
By Micy
Format:Kindle Edition
Leapfrogging provides an in depth look at how to create new products, services, business models or
processes that are "breakthroughs" or that "change the game" in some way. The author makes the case
that anyone who wants to do something big and important will have to wrestle with uncertainty and
respond to unforeseen "surprises" during the process.

Overall the premise makes sense, and many detailed examples from organizations like Apple, Four
Seasons, and OpenTable back it up. The diversity of stories is good since a number of small lesser-
known companies and even nonprofits are profiled that have done some very innovative things. The
book also does a nice job of applying the concepts to specific business functions (there's an interesting
case from DuPont's legal department for example).

A model called "LEAPS" delves into the phases of creating breakthroughs. The five LEAPS phases are
all about the leadership and organizational experiences that occur during the process of creating
breakthroughs, most of which address the social and psychological issues that are at play and typically
go unspoken in most organizations. Examples include how uncertainty and fear of failure lead to
risk-aversion -- which in turn leads people to retrench into behavior that worked in the past but
that undermines the future. Other examples talk about how to overcome the deer-in-the-headlights
syndrome by minimizing risk through defining the smallest steps possible to test your highest potential
opportunities and biggest assumptions.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
As I began to read this book, I was reminded of an observation by Oliver Wendell Holmes: "I wouldn't give a fig for simplicity this side of complexity but would give my life for simplicity on the other side of complexity." This is what Soren Kaplan has in mind when suggesting that the single most important factor in fostering true game changers in innovation is "the way leaders and organizations handle the discomfort, the disorientation, and the thrill (and pain) of living with uncertainty, finding clarity from ambiguity, and being surprised." Very few business leaders and their organizations are both willing and able to work heir way through the complexity of what I view as "the fog of innovation" until, finally, there is a business breakthrough.

In Leading Change, James O'Toole suggests that many change initiatives fail because of cultural resistance that results from what he so aptly characterizes as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom." Kaplan duly acknowledges that leapfrogging - "the process of overcoming limiting mindsets and barriers to create business breakthroughs - is almost never easy. On the contrary, the status quo always has staunch defenders and many of them reside in the C-suite. More often than not, the current status quo is one they created by the same process of transformation to which Kaplan refers. That is, in response to what was then the status quo, they and their associates "delivered exactly what groundbreaking innovations always deliver: something new, something powerfully effective, and - most important - something [begin italics] unexpected [end italics]." Now the target is on their backs. Moreover, the greatest threat the organization now faces is not from a competitor.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting WSJ article on this book May 17, 2013
By Patty

Excerpt : "Last August, a book titled "Leapfrogging" hit The Wall Street Journal's list of best-selling business titles upon its debut. The following week, sales of the book, written by first-time author Soren Kaplan, plunged 99% and it fell off the list. ... After concluding that his book stood little chance of getting noticed without some special effort, Mr. Kaplan says he hired ResultSource.

He said ResultSource told him it could arrange the purchase of a quantity of books in such a way that they were counted toward national best-seller lists."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Break on Through to Innovation January 27, 2013
Innovation is the buzzword of the day. In Leapfrogging, Author Soren Kaplan, provides a template for discovering and fostering business breakthroughs. He distills his strategy into the acronym, LEAPS - Listen, Explore, Act, Persist, and Seize.

The key, though, as indicated in the subtitle, is surprise - to open yourself up to surprises, embrace them, learn from them, and act upon them. In most cases, surprises are not huge game changers. They can be little things. Kaplan calls them guideposts that can lead us on the journey of breakthroughs.

This reviewer was impressed with the time spent on the importance of the "A" and "P" in LEAPS - acting (taking small steps), and persisting in order to overcome the fear of failure and continue to move forward, learning from mistakes.

Kaplan provides sound advice and many real life examples to support his strategy. Follow up questions and exercises are also provided to stimulate thought and propel the reader further on the breakthrough journey. Anyone can harness the power of surprise and achieve business breakthroughs. Pick up a copy of the book and start leapfrogging today.

Nick McCormick, Author, "Acting Up Brings Everyone Down: The Impacts of Childish Behavior in the Workplace"
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book to read
Writer gives lots of useful examples in harnessing the power of surprises which open up my mind. I would recommend the book to anyone who also wants to learn more about the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by jacky cehung
4.0 out of 5 stars surprise
It is a surprise. Never fear the unknown. Read the book a chapter at a time then contemplate what it means
Published 3 months ago by Rebecca R Park
5.0 out of 5 stars Relevant, pragmatic, thoughtful
Working in innovation, this book really helps you think outside the box and suggests concrete action to foster and execute on disruptive breakthroughs. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Thomas M. Barron
4.0 out of 5 stars Change your attitude !
Excellent book to understand the need of a positive and aggressive attitude not only in business but in your personal life
Cesar de Anda Mexico
Published 15 months ago by cesar de anda
4.0 out of 5 stars New Business Cases add Surprise!
Having been "in the business of business" for 30 years and having taught University-level business courses, I have had the opportunity to read many books, articles, dissertations,... Read more
Published 18 months ago by ShariAD
5.0 out of 5 stars Response to WSJ Article on Publishing A Bestseller
Let's call a spade a spade. Marketing is the art of manipulation. Marketing is about presenting products and services in the most positive light possible to generate sales. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Bob Krinsky
1.0 out of 5 stars Poorly written...
An unfortunate entry into the market niche of motivational charlatans, this book is filled with not only bad grammar and typos, but stilted, awkward phrasing and empty... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Slappy McGee
5.0 out of 5 stars A real authentic book!
There are 3 GREAT things about this book that makes it a MUST read. (1) Clarity of thought. I finished the book in 6 days; every chapter leads to the other in a very lucid... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Mohamed Marwan
5.0 out of 5 stars I was pleasantly "Surprised..!"
Wonderfully written..with interesting and insightful stories that illustrates the points he makes about the power of surprise. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Joy Casey
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius
Dr. Kaplan has identified an experience that almost everyone has had, but never realized it's potential. One has the experience by simply reading a few pages of his book... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Robert Royeton
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More About the Author

Soren Kaplan is a leading keynote speaker, the author of the bestselling and award winning book, Leapfrogging, a writer for FastCompany, faculty member in the executive education program at the Copenhagen Business School, and the Founder of InnovationPoint. He works with organizations including Disney, NBCUniversal, Kimberly-Clark, Colgate-Palmolive, Medtronic, Philips, Red Bull, and numerous other global firms. Soren previously led the internal strategy and innovation group at Hewlett-Packard (HP) during the roaring 1990's in Silicon Valley and was a co-founder of iCohere, one of the first web collaboration platforms for online learning and communities of practice. He is an Adjunct Professor within the Imagineering Academy at NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences in The Netherlands and has lectured at Harvard Business School, Copenhagen Business School, and with other MBA and executive education programs. He sits on the advisory boards of several Silicon Valley start-ups. He has been quoted, published, and interviewed by FastCompany, Forbes, CNBC, National Public Radio, the American Management Association, USA Today, Strategy & Leadership, and The International Handbook on Innovation, among many others. He holds Master's and Ph.D. degrees in Organizational Psychology and resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, two daughters, and hypo-allergenic cat.


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