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The Four Lenses of Innovation: A Power Tool for Creative Thinking Paperback – March 2, 2015
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From the Back Cover
LEARN THE FORMULA FOR INFUSING CREATIVITY INTO YOUR ORGANIZATION
Ever wondered where big, breakthrough ideas come from? How do innovators manage to spot the opportunities for industry revolution that everyone else seems to miss?
Contrary to popular belief, innovation is not some mystical art that's forbidden to mere mortals. The Four Lenses of Innovation thoroughly debunks this pervasive myth by delivering what we've long been hoping for: the news that innovation is systematic, it's methodical, and we can all achieve it.
By asking how the world's top innovators―Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, and many others―came up with their game-changing ideas, bestselling author Rowan Gibson identifies four key business perspectives that will enable you to discover groundbreaking opportunities for innovation and growth:
- Challenging Orthodoxies―What if the dominant conventions in your field, market, or industry are outdated, unnecessary, or just plain wrong?
- Harnessing Trends―Where are the shifts and discontinuities that will, now and in the future, provide the energy you need for a major leap forward?
- Leveraging Resources―How can you arrange existing skills and assets into new combinations that add up to more than the sum of their parts?
- Understanding Needs―What are the unmet needs and frustrations that everyone else is simply ignoring?
Other books promise the keys to innovation―this one delivers them. With a unique full-color design, thought-provoking examples, and features like the 8-Step Model for Building a Breakthrough, The Four Lenses of Innovation will teach you how to reverse-engineer creative genius and make radical business innovation an everyday reality inside your organization.
"Rowan Gibson has done a superb job of 'unpacking' what it takes to innovate."
―Philip Kotler, S. C. Johnson Distinguished Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University
"Can you develop an innovative mind? Yes, you can. And this book is the manual."
―John and Doris Naisbitt, authors of China's Megatrends and The Global Game Change
"An excellent piece of work for practitioners and organizations who seek to have innovation as part of their DNA."
―Camille Mirshokrai, Managing Director of Leadership Development, and Partner at Accenture
"Rowan Gibson's The Four Lenses of Innovation will inspire you to think big, look afresh at the challenges you face, and take bold action to change the world."
―Robert B. Tucker, author of Driving Growth Through Innovation
About the Author
ROWAN GIBSON is widely recognized around the globe as a thought leader on business innovation. Labeled by the media as "the Innovation Grandmaster," Gibson provides some of the world's most successful organizations with services and tools to help them deepen their innovation capabilities. He is also the cofounder of InnovationExcellence.com, which is now the most popular innovation website on the Internet.
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-Challenge your believes and underscores the “why why why” on challenging the status quo.
-Understand the present heading in Trends in patterns of change
-Leverage Resources in every which way possible, incl Open Innovation
-Understanding Needs...true customer perspective needs
Overall valuable insight build on the past, challenging the conventional “How to” and although the author might not have put them in a particular order, I would have put the last one first: You always want to start with a Market Need vs just an Idea...
In this book, the reader is engaged from the first chapter. Consistent with what has been Gibson’s mantra for many years, the book seeks to reaffirm his message: innovation, as well as quality, customer service, etc., must be "embedded" in all organizations, because companies without innovative culture are left behind sooner rather than later.
In ancient times, people believed that the creativity and ability to innovate was a divine inspiration granted to few. Hence, poets, philosophers and artists looked toward the "Muses", goddesses of inspiration.
Archimedes’s "Eureka" however, was not the result of divine inspiration that occurred while he was in the now famous bathtub. He was a physicist, mathematician, engineer, astronomer and inventor. When the King asked him to confirm whether the goldsmith had stolen part of the gold he was given for the new crown, Archimedes could not find a way to measure the volume of such irregular body. While soaking in the tub, he saw the water level rising and concluded that the displaced volume was equal to the volume of the submerged body: "Eureka". With the volume and weight of the crown, he found that its density was less than that of gold, and therefore the goldsmith was actually a thief.
Rowan describes how everything became clearer with the European Renaissance. With the birth of humanism, mankind began to understand that scientific or artistic creation depended exclusively on the education and skills of each person.
As the individual grew in terms of self-esteem and self-confidence, an explosion of artistic and scientific developments happened that substantially improved the quality of life of mankind. Human beings, rather than gods, became the center of the universe. The mind was set free and the spark of creativity was lit. Science and technological advances ceased to be a violation of the divine order. You could challenge the orthodoxy.
Rowan analyzes the way Petrarch, "The Father of Humanism and the Renaissance" recognized the new trends of the time: obscurantism and darkness during the Middle Ages were gradually left behind and the new challenges to be faced would later bring along more prosperous years.
The story of how Gutenberg integrated different skills and knowledge to create the printing press is fascinating. Just like Steve Jobs, with his privileged view, managed to integrate various technologies to develop the iPod and other "gadgets" that made him famous. Both did leverage in resources already available.
H. Ford invented an unclaimed and unneeded machine. Leonardo da Vinci, with his brilliant mind and insatiable curiosity, designed the parachute, submarine, helicopter and many other machines and appliances that nobody needed at the time, but were crucial to improving the quality of life of humankind.
Thanks to this four lenses, we will be able to unravel the desired tomorrow from our day to day lives.
This should be a must read across the organization. Great innovation and ideas, come from all industries, of any size, from ordinary people.
The design and graphics of the book were a delightful surprise! Enjoy!!
Top international reviews
If you are looking for validation to reassure yourself that you're currently doing a good job then don't bother reading this book, it's not for people with an overly inward focus.
+ Easy to consume read
+ Lots of visuals
+ Practical examples
+ Lots of applications (you can use in several different businesses)
It's a very well presented book which has a pretty cover, and the the layout and graphics inside are superb. Really pleasing on the eye.
The author write well about a subject that can be quite dry. "My goal in writing this book was to somewhat demystify the front end of innovation"
He set out the four areas (from the blurb) as:
Challenging Orthodoxies What if the dominant conventions in your field, market, or industry are outdated, unnecessary, or just plain wrong?
Harnessing Trends Where are the shifts and discontinuities that will, now and in the future, provide the energy you need for a major leap forward?
Leveraging Resources How can you arrange existing skills and assets into new combinations that add up to more than the sum of their parts?
Understanding Needs What are the unmet needs and frustrations that everyone else is simply ignoring?
Essentially, as in the Television industry there is talent. (People who make the task of presenting look easy which most people can't) In comparison there are the creatives. The creative 'type' that can work away for hours striving for perfection.
The book sets about a "systematic methodology and an organised process for generating, capturing, sharing and using powerful insights at the very front end of their innovation efforts"
SUPERB BOOK AND RESOURCEFUL
It's one of those books that you can dip in and out of and each time learn something. If you're wanting to get into the creative industries or have to work with creatives this is a book to consider. Overall really good.
In this high production value tome the author asks the question: where do the big ideas come from and then answers them. His message is that everyone can innovate and be creative - and while I'm sure that is true - it does sometimes seem to take a certain type of individual with a certain type of background sometimes to achieve that, something that Robert Kelsey in Outside Edge (also available on Amazon) identified.
Gibson's four lenses are: Challenging orthodoxies: he asks if the conventional outlook is out of date or plain wrong. Harnessing, not following, trends. Leveraging your resources: making sure that you use available resources to the best possible outcomes. Then finally, understanding needs: what needs are currently being frustrated or not even met?
It is in the first lens that I felt some unease, or perhaps where I began that imaginary discussion with the author that is often the sign of a worthwhile book. Especially one like this where you are being encouraged to think and challenge. For when discussing this the usual, "unorthodox", mainstream suspects are trotted out as innovators to admire: Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, and many others. That not to say that they are not innovators. But they are all rich white men and irrespective of where they started, are the mainstream new orthodoxy now. The other orthodoxy that is implied is also the mainstream - and I suspect not to be challenged - humanistic materialist worldview. The author spends a good amount of time rubbishing church and state from years ago and how they stifled innovation while seemingly ignoring the architectural and cultural advances made in the so called dark ages.
But once on form for the rest of the book Gibson delivers in abundance. Like James Burke many years ago in "Connections', he shows how one innovation leads to another and how the successful innovator/entrepreneur can often link or assimilate small technical processes and information and turn them into something wonderful, useful and new. This re-combining is, I think at the heart of this book. he wants you to look at what you have and then mix them up in different ways - and keep on mixing until something that can be leveraged comes out. In this, in my opinion , he is absolutely right and expresses it a good deal more eloquently than I could. Throughout he throwing out questions and making the reader seek answers in the reader's own situation. I notice that he does seminars - almost i'd like to go...
In the end, five stars because if you want something to kick start a innovative process, get this.
I have my own 'theory' of how innovation works, based on lots of experience of it happening 'that way'. Essentially, something clicks when various bits of information line up ... things like conversations, stuff you notice, gaps that seem unfilled all kinda coalesce together and you get an idea. Fine, but all a bit accidental and probably major inefficient.
There's this whole social narrative around creativity and innovation, as if there's the domain strictly populated by special people known as 'creatives'. Indeed, we now have a whole idustry targeted at the needs of these self-defining people. This book takes a different tack and I think it's a healthy and progressive one. We're all creative. We can all come up with great stuff if we have a structure we can apply to our thinking. This means we're less dependant on the accidental connections and the lauded individual.
The structure revolves around use of four filters if you like and it's worth outlining them:
By clearly defining a specific challenge or problem that needs a solution you can then apply these perceptual lenses. I am confident the innovation will appear and will appear for most/all of use. The book expands way beyond my meagre outline above (but it gives a flavour) with so many fantastic quotes, illustrations and diagrams to break up the text. I'd highly recommend this book. I can only gloss over the mine of content it contains at the moment as my heads spinning ... it really is an outstanding and very usable reference work.
This book starts by examining the mind of the innovator, before going on to look at the power of patterns. Then it delves into the lenses of innovation themselves: challenging orthodoxies, harnessing trends, leveraging resources and understanding needs. Then it concludes with a section on How Big Ideas Are Built.
The design of the book is gorgeous. It looks like a design magazine or a trendy website. Yet the look of the book never detracts from the words, and the text is always ledgible. And the content of the words is pretty good too. It’s written clearly, while not being afraid to delve into potentially complex subjects. Pages of footnotes at the back of the book reassure me of its intellectual authority. Sometimes I think the author takes too long to get to the point - and I counted three instances of the word 'literally' in close proximity, but these are minor irritations when judged against the whole of this work. This book is an invaluable tool to boost your creative thinking in a business environment.
The argument is set out from the perspective of a set of Renaissance examples of innovation (eg the printing press) and the lenses cover not only the 'creative' part of the process but some of what makes am innovation a success (eg it came when there was a major need for the product). As the book moves forward it then rolls out a fairly standard litany of Steve Jobs, Amazon and so forth.
The problem I have with all books like this (such as Wikinomics - remember that?) is they don't talk about the negative case. I firmly believe that if many thousands of firms are all trying to innovate (and remember dotcom) some number will go from being successful to being ultra successful; it would be nice to see a study that looks at cases of failure to understand how much of the method proposed is just a case of looking backwards and joining the dots.
That grumble aside there is a lot in this book and it is well worth the investment of time. It focusses on the process of innovation over the softer elements such as leadership; maybe that is a topic for a further book
I've worked with some individuals who were totally unacquainted with originality, who were so lacking in nous they were staggered that when I suggested an alternative, more efficient method to successfully complete a given task, then refused to do it my way because iT wasn't the way they were originally taught. Am I striking a chord with anyone here?
Naturally I was right - and they were wrong - but I would say that, wouldn't I?
Like a fair few other people, I am a generator of original ideas and thoughts.
Some are daft, some are insane, some are frankly idiotic. However, with no small modesty, I do come up with the occasional corker. Then I promptly forget all about it.
It's all down to self discipline ot says in this quite beautifully designed and compelling book.
It explains how to generate viable original ideas, how to organise them, how to develop and capitalise on them.
This is s deeply interesting and superbly illustrated guide that may, or may not help you. But I can promise you that it's more enjoyable to read than it is to watch the hapless individuals pitch their often awful ideas on 'Dragon's Den'
The focus of the book is on creativity and the tools to bring it out. He does this through four different views of where creativity comes from, people who fit those views and tools and ideas to get you to benefit from each.
1 Challenging orthodoxies.
2 Harnessing trends.
3 Leveraging resources.
4 Understanding needs.
Each does need explaining and the author does this very well. The book uses a lot of colour and graphics, which really work. Being a pedant for typography I was set on the notion to dislike reverse type. I was proved wrong, the contract is excellent and makes the paragraphs stand out and readable.
If I could sum this book up in one word, it would be: FUN. There is a story, some exercises to challenge you and some real skills you can take home. It also has a very nice visual feel. Very usable information as well as a great coffee table book.