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on February 16, 2016
A very good read with useful info
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on March 22, 2008
The author's ambitious goal is, as the title says, Big Think strategy is to leverage bold ideas and leave small thinking behind. There are some good insights in particular why large companies incentive systems are not set up for big and bold straegies. SWOT analysis vs. Big Think; there is more to strategy than just analysis and the difficulty developing Big Think strategies with generic strategy types (like Porter's cost leadership, differentiation & focus).

I strongly believe that the concept of thinking big cannot be stressed enough. Where the weakness of the book starts is in its titel and goal; big think is great, but why bold? Big thinking can or cannot be bold. Big thinking is a strategic tool. To me, boldness is as important as thinking big, but in acting, not thinking. And now the fine nuances show; boldness should never be the strategy behind all of our actions. It is a tactical instrument, used at the right moment.

All in all, a good 'refresher' on thinking big for business while far from a must read book.
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on December 29, 2013
Heard BIG THINK STRATEGY: HOW TO LEVERAGE BOLD IDEAS AND LEAVE SMALL THINKING BEHIND (Your Digital Coach), written by Bernd H. Schmitt and narrated by Sean Pratt.The author based this book on his Corporate Creativity” course at Columbia Business School’s Executive MBS program. Doing so, he utilizes research in psychology and marketing, as well as his experiences in music, fashion, telecom, financial services and travel. What made it so interesting was the fact that he included many relevant examples.Furthermore, I liked how he asked and then answered such thought-provoking questions as the following:1. What are the strategy tasks of Big Think? 2. Which idea sourcing tools tend to be most productive? 3. By what process can an organization benchmark outside of its industry? 4. By what process can Big Ideas be identified, evaluated, and selected?
5. What are the four types of Big Think strategy? 6. How to formulate a strategy for a Big Idea? 7. How to executive that strategy effectively? 8. What are the most common hurdles to implementing it? 9. Viewing Big Think as a sprint, how to “jump over” these hurdles? 10. How to “weave Big Think into the fabric” of an organization?BIG THINK will help you bring bold thinking into your business or organization . . . or at least get you thinking about doing so. It will also get you thinking more creatively.
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HALL OF FAMEon May 22, 2008
This is a fun book. Bernd H. Schmitt clearly enjoys not just working with ideas, but playing with them. To explain his concept, he draws on sources from Greek mythology to cyberspace. His examples range from IBM to the opera, and he explores creative analogies ("A strategy is like a great steak!") that show his lively mind and openness to learning from all kinds of sources. This book is not just entertaining, it is also useful. Schmitt shares a host of tips for producing new ideas and provides a big jolt of energy to help you get started. Reading this might make you want to roll up your sleeves and change everything about your business. However, Schmitt is breezy about potential challenges - talking about revolutionizing your industry won't do much good if you can't pay your rent. Thoughts about innovation fall along a spectrum. On one end are people who believe that many small changes or experiments can add up to marked change and market superiority; on the other end are those who think you have to make radical innovation in a sudden leap. Schmitt is very much on that end of the innovation spectrum. getAbstract recommends this book to those looking to jump-start their creative engines, to eager innovators and, since Schmitt focuses mostly on conceptual thinking, to those who can supply their own details.
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VINE VOICEon February 3, 2008
While it's possible to run a successful business by incrementally improving your product and service, you'll forever be trying to defend your turf from others doing the same thing. The way to break free and win big is to "think big". Bernd H. Schmitt takes a look at that strategy in his book Big Think Strategy: How to Leverage Bold Ideas and Leave Small Thinking Behind. It's an unconventional style business book to create unconventional products and services.

Big Think and the Trojan Horse
Sourcing Ideas - Steaks and Sacred Cows
Evaluating Ideas - How to Dig for the Gems
Turning Ideas into Strategy - What Would Mahler Do?
Executing Big Think - How to Pull the Ship over the Mountain
Leading Big Think - Guts, Passion - or Just a Robot?
Sustaining Big Think - From Sisyphus to Odysseus
About Schmitt

The first thing you notice about this book is that it's not the typical scholarly look at some management theory that sounds good on paper but probably wouldn't translate to real life. Schmitt digs right in and relates his ideas and actions that have been developed from many years of working with companies. Many of the applications of these ideas weren't part of some strategy session or formal "brainstorming" gathering, but rather the result of conversations on the train or over steaks with the leaders of companies that were struggling with these very issues. As such, the whole presentation of the concepts has a "real" feel to them. I liked that...

The book centers around three leadership qualities and four strategy types you can use to move your company from small think to Big Think. The styles involve guts, passion, and perseverance. You have to stick with your ideas even though others might be against you. Your passion over the idea needs to translate into persuading others to buy into it. And most of all, you can't be the type to throw in the towel at the first sign of resistance. The strategy types are opposition, integration, essence, and transcendence. Opposition involves looking at the market and trying something that is in direct contrast to where others are blindly following. Integration is the art of bringing together ideas that on the surface may not seem to be complementary, but that once combined causes a whole new market paradigm. Essence means taking the core of an idea and taking it further than anyone else has. And finally, transcendence seeks to destroy the boundaries that current define the industry or market that you're in. But Schmitt doesn't just throw out ideas without examples. He brings together companies that embody these ideas. Look at companies and brands like Dove, Apple, Whole Foods, etc. It's really good stuff...

Most anyone in business can easily read and benefit from this book. You owe it to your business and yourself to really think about what you're doing and where you're going. It may be that by changing your mindset, you may well become the next company that defines your industry.
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VINE VOICEon December 8, 2007
Bernd Schmitt's book Big Think Strategy is the best and clearest illustration of the potential, processes and ideas behind creating an innovative - out of the box strategy for your company. Schmitt provides clear delineations between big think strategies which are characterized by creativity, visionary leadership, bold ideas, and integration and lasting impact. These are in contrast to small think which is filled with inertia, fear, narrow mindedness, risk, silos and short term focus.

Schmitt uses the next 120 pages to discuss the concepts behind big think in detail. This is the strength of the book as the ensuing chapters provide examples as well as a few well placed tools and process descriptions that can help the reader implement the ideas behind big thinking.

Chapter 1: Big Think and the Trojan Horse talks about the essence behind the need to think outside of the normal constraints and have an approach for generating the next big idea.

Chapter 2 Sourcing Ideas demonstrates the realizations that while many of the fundamentals of strategy may be the same; it does not mean that the content of the strategy needs to be generic. This chapter discusses all of the different inputs and sources enterprises and leaders can use to think big.

Chapter 3: Evaluating the ideas provides processes and approaches for organizing and sifting through potentially big ideas. Here there are a few tried and true marketing idea generation techniques and unfortunately Schmitt recommends using traditional tools such as financial impact to assess ideas. It has been my experience that those are small think tools that will limit your creativity and run counter to the ideas in a big think strategy.

Chapter 4: Turning Ideas into Strategy discusses alternative templates to traditional strategy models and value disciplines. These include: Opposition - going against the grain, Integration - bringing together things that were preciously thought to be opposites, Essence - a revision of core competencies and capabilities and finally Transcendence - creating a new ecosystem ala a Blue Ocean Strategy. This chapter is well reasoned and necessary as readers need this organization to be able o compare, contrast and enlist others in recognizing the different between Big and Little thinking.

Chapter 5 Executing Big Think looks tackle the issue of strategy implementation. This is a challenge for Schmitt as it is the place where big ideas meet the reality of actual operations - by definition small thinking in their orientation. Unfortunately in the area where people need the most help and tools, this chapter has few. Schmitt reverts back to three standard things that can be found in just about every strategy book - the need to enlist and engage the workforce, the need to be adaptable in the implementation to respond to market and company changes, and the need to generate attention and quick wins. If execution is the Achilles heel of strategy and think big is about doing new strategies in new ways, then I wish Schmitt had spent more time thinking and researching this part of the book. Relative to implementation Schmitt is well ensconced in thinking small.

Chapter 6 Leading Big Think is the final chapter that concentrates on leadership. Here again like chapter 5 Schmitt becomes a small thinker. His findings that leadership requires guts, passion and perseverance are small traditional ideas that have been well covered in other books.

Chapter 7 Sustaining Big Think covers the issue of being more than a one big thought wonder. Here Schmitt points out to have Big Thinky Heads - people who are able to maintain a child outlook and optimism that problems can be solved. His recommendation that you should keep a few iconoclasts around is interesting and I have run into a few companies with such people - unfortunately they often suffer the fate quoted by Eric Severed when he discussed how small minds attack big ideas "Its like being nibbled to death by ducks.:

Overall, Big Think Strategy is a book worth buying and reading, particularly the first four chapters as it will refresh your mind and ideas on strategy, creativity and innovation. The book has multiple examples which are strength however each is very brief and cursory. Schmitt occasionally engages in revisionism to make the actions of others fit his framework - not a cardinal sin, but something that detracts from the work. The book does lack a sense that Schmitt has been around to lead, observe or even participate in the execution of a Big Think Strategy - which is a limiting factor for the book. Again this chapter is filled with standard recommendations - eliminate silos, work with innovative people, and be entrepreneurial. All of these are ideas that have been done before and ones that are explained in small thinking terms.

I do not know Schmitt but I am sure that he is an engaging person filled with interesting stories. You can see this from the way the book is written in a conversational - travel log style as Schmitt travels the world and tells you about how those travels point out big ideas and the need for other big thinking. The travel log style - almost akin to Goldratt's books, is a nice touch but it tends to trivialize the messages and make the book appear more of a self indulgence than a discussion of new strategy techniques, This is particularly the case regarding the authors personal fixation with the idea of creating a Trojan Horse. If the style of the book was a big thought in discussing Big Think Strategy then it is moderately executed.

So, this book is recommended as are others in this area Zook's latest book "Unstoppable" and Erich Joachimsthaler's book Hidden in Plain Sight as well as Davenport and Harris's "Competing on Analytics." It's a quick and engaging read with a good balance between new ideas and the tools to formulate them.
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In his previous books (e.g. Marketing Aesthetics, Experiential Marketing, and Customer Experience Management), Bernd Schmitt focuses his attention almost entirely on the aesthetics and dynamics of the purchase experience. What we have in this volume is a substantive, thought-provoking examination of how to develop a mindset that can be beneficial to -- but is not limited to -- marketing. Specifically, a mindset he characterizes as "Big Think" as opposed to "Small Think." According to Schmitt, "Where Small Think deals with the known, the pretested, and the prechewed, Big Think faces challenges creatively, reasoning about them from new angles and generating innovative ideas and actions to solve them. Bug Think does not just occur in the head. It involves action: managing people and teams, and driving organizational change. It is not simply creating something new; it is behaving differently."

Throughout his narrative, Schmitt cites a number of organizations that established and then developed a culture that has avoided or overcome what James O'Toole so aptly characterizes (in his brilliant book, Leading Change) as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom." These organizations include Whole Foods Market, Apple Computer, IBM, The Metropolitan Opera, Samsung, and Vodaphone.

Here are several of the questions to which Schmitt responds, with rigor and eloquence:

1. What are the strategy tasks of Big Think?
2. Which idea sourcing tools tend to be most productive?
3. By what process can an organization benchmark outside of its industry?
4. By what process can Big Ideas be identified, evaluated, and selected?
5. What are the four types of Big Think strategy?
6. How to formulate a strategy for a Big Idea?
7. How to executive that strategy effectively?
8. What are the most common hurdles to implementing it?
9.Viewing Big Think as a sprint, how to "jump over" these hurdles?
10. How to "weave Big Think into the fabric" of an organization?

Early in his book, Schmitt notes that psychologists have divided the creative process into four phases: preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification. "The first and last phases are analytical phases. In the first phase, you prepare the facts and immerse yourself in the problem," preferably a Big Problem. "In the fourth phase, you evaluate and verify the creative [i.e. desired] outcome. The actual creative ideas, however, are generated in the two middle phases of incubation and illumination." Schmitt recommends a number of "tools" to make connections in the brain during the process of formulating a Big Idea and the strategy needed to execute it effectively. He asserts (and I agree) that this process must involve everyone within the given organization but also anyone else (including customers) who can help to provide whatever information, perspectives, questions, and suggestions that may be needed. This is a key point, one that Graham Wallace, Friedrich Hayek, and Henry Chesbrough (to name but three) stress when sharing their own thoughts about an "open" business model.

As Chesbrough explains, "A business model performs two important functions: it creates value and it captures a portion of that value. It creates value by defining a series of activities from raw materials through to the final consumer that will yield a new product or service with value being added throughout the various activities. The business model captures value by establishing a unique resource, asset, or position within that series of activities, where the firm enjoys a competitive advantage."

Having thus established a frame-of-reference, Chesbrough continues: "An open business model uses this new division of innovation labor - both in the creation of value and in the capture of a portion of that value. Open models create value by leveraging many more ideas, due to their inclusion of a variety of external concepts. Open models can also enable greater value capture, by using a key asset, resource, or position not only in the company's own business model but also in other companies businesses."

This seems to be what Schmitt has in mind when urging his reader to think both "out of the box" and inclusively. "Big Think is a style of thinking and leading...[it] requires vision and leadership. It requires questioning deeply held [but perhaps false] assumptions about a business or an industry, considering the business or industry from a new angle, and then acting on the new insight." Big Think requires an "open" mindset, one that refuses to be confined by silos, bunkers, barriers, boundaries, etc. It is even open to the extent that it constantly seeks out "big juicy ideas" from sources that Small Think excludes. Competitors, for example.

I commend Schmitt on his brilliant use of two mythical figures. One is Odysseus who conceived of the Trojan horse and had the leadership needed to use it to penetrate and then destroy Troy. The other is Sisyphus whose pride angered the gods. His punishment was to roll an immense rock up to the top of a hill at which it would then roll back down. He was doomed to repeat this for eternity. Schmitt observes, "Small Think is despair - and we should leave it behind. Big Think, on the other hand, can salvage us from the daily pains of our habitual existence, by letting us create our own bold vision for our lives and work and transforming each of us from Sisyphus to Odysseus."

Those who share my regard for this brilliant volume are urged to check out Jim Collins' rigorous and lively examination of "Big Hairy Audacious Goals" (BHAGs) in Built to Last and Good to Great, Jason Jennings' Thing Big, Act Small, Gary Hamel's The Future of Management, Henry Chesbrough's Open Business Models and Open Innovation, and Built to Change co-authored by Edward E. Lawler III, Chris Worley, and Jerry Porras.
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on April 28, 2008
Bernd Schmitt does it again with his Big Think Strategy: How to Leverage Bold Ideas and Leave Small Thinking Behind book.

I read Schmitt's book on a plane ride from New York to Beijing and was captivated by it. Throughout the entire read, I was applying Schmitt's frameworks to my own industry and line of business and was frantically writing down all the ideas that emerged.

Big Think Strategy is also not written like a traditional textbook which is quite refreshing in that regard.

Overall, I see many types of professionals really getting alot out of Schmitt's new work (not just traditional executives). Schmitt's Big Think Strategy makes you think differently in whatever line of business you are in and I plan incorporating his frameworks within my unit and team immediately.

Schmitt does it again with his Big Think Strategy book. BRAVO SCHMITT!!! BRAVO!!!
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on March 13, 2010
Entrapping. If you are interested in overcoming limitations of tactical thinking, breaking out of the box, or creative/strategic thinking, read this book.
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on February 29, 2008
A must have for any business manager! This book is a perfect read for anyone looking for simple and creative ways to bring innovative changes to their company. Schmitt has a great skill of combining business strategies with interesting anecdotes and humor, which makes the book an easy and fun read.
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