The New Polymath: Profiles in Compound-Technology Innovations (Wiley Professional Advisory Services) Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0470618301
ISBN-10: 0470618302
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

A Polymath—the Greek word for Renaissance Man—is one who excels in many disciplines. From Leonardo da Vinci to Benjamin Franklin, we have relied on Polymaths to innovate and find creative solutions to the problems of the day. How would these Renaissance men and women manage our current technology bounty? Which disciplines would they choose to focus on? Would they work on the architecture of next-generation green cities, or focus on nanotechnology?

As our challenges have grown exponentially we need to bring together da Vinci, Franklin, and many more. The New Polymath is an enterprise that excels in multiple technologies—infotech, cleantech, healthtech, and other tech—and leverages multiple talent pools to create new medicine, new energy, and new algorithms.

Author Vinnie Mirchandani shares his varied experience as a technology adviser and market watcher to explain in business language the diversity of today's technology palette and to profile a wide range of innovations at:

  • Large multinationals such as GE and BP

  • Fast-growing, midsized companies like Cognizant and salesforce.com

  • The cleantech industry in China, farms in Ireland, and the back roads of Rwanda

This book categorizes eleven "building blocks" for the New Polymath to leverage in its R-E-N-A-I-S-S-A-N-C-E framework, including next-generation analytics, cloud computing, sustainability, and social networks. The author profiles over a hundred innovators and demonstrates how they use these building blocks to solve both their individual day-to-day issues and the "Grand Challenges" the world faces.

Brimming with examples from a variety of industries, countries, and business processes, the book will inspire you to groom your own New Polymath tools, processes, and ecosystem of innovation ideas.

From the Back Cover

More about The New Polymath
"Mirchandani describes a future of possibilities  - "fortunate accidents of innovation" - enabled by the convergence of technologies with a dose of ideas from "left field". As the founder of Rural Sourcing, we believed in the untapped potential of our young people in Rural America. The possibilities are limitless when there are no geographic boundaries to our workforce and we can truly move the work to the worker rather than the worker to the work."
--Kathy Brittain-White, Former EVP and CIO, Cardinal Health; Founder, Rural Sourcing, Inc.
"Every 10-15 years the technology industry reinvents itself, taking all the achievements and knowledge from the prior generation and turning them into a platform for new innovation.  That regular cycle of rebirth has transformed the way we work, live and play - around the world. Mirchandani has done a fabulous job shining a light on examples of people and organizations that take what exists around us and turn  it into what is possible.  These are the innovators that inspire us."
--Dave Duffield, co-CEO and Chief Customer Advocate, Workday; former Chairman and CEO, PeopleSoft, Inc.
"Mirchandani is one of the few technology analysts to realize that technology doesn't come in neat bundles anymore, if it ever did. His stories and lessons cut across infotech, biotech, greentech, and mathtech. If you want to be a Polymath innovator, this is your bible!"
--Thomas H. Davenport, President's Distinguished Professor of IT and Management, Babson College; coauthor of Analytics at Work: Smarter Decisions, Better Results
"In today's world, innovation distinguishes great companies from good ones.Mirchandani highlights the importance of technology in such innovation and, specific to IT, counsels about being a full partner of the business and being open to the best ideas from other industries and geographies.?The book is full of examples on how to accomplish this and should be required reading for all IT professionals and students."
--Caroline Watteeuw, Global CTO and SVP, Business Information Solutions, PepsiCo, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1047 KB
  • Print Length: 388 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0470618302
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (June 15, 2010)
  • Publication Date: June 15, 2010
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003TFE8QU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,340,361 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was very interested in the topic and about polymaths in history and some that I have known, so it was with great anticipation that I bought the book. The book seems to be a collection of blog posts by the author, which leads to a book that is hard to track. He has a thesis, but the book is not organized in a way that it flows to support the thesis. It is agony to read. I read a few pages of interesting factoids, then pause to think, why is he saying that or what is the point. The general flow is: fact, unrelated tidbit, something innovative, implying that the subject, usually a company, is a polymath. Rinse and repeat. He overuses the word polymath so much that its grating. I disagree with the concept that a company can be a polymath just because they can be good a several things.

There are lots of quite interesting factoids and blogs in the book, lots of descriptions of companies that are innovative (with no point), but it seriously needs a real editor to try to make it readable.
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Format: Hardcover
Having read an advance copy of Vinnie Mirchandani's The New Polymath, I have to say that it is a riveting read. It's SuperFreakonomics for us technophiles. Because, for better or worse, The New Polymath (who can be thought of as a modern Leonardo da Vinci) must also be an IT guru ... as it is information technology that is paving the way for a new generation of polymaths that have access to unprecedented levels of information across disciplines.

Rather than tell you that this fresh and inviting (Benjamin Fried, CIO Google) book is filled with incredible examples of passionate entrepreneurs (Marc Benioff, CEO [...]), that I am inspired by this book (Maynard Webb, CEO LiveOps), or that Mirchandani is one of the few technology analysts to realize that technology doesn't come in neat bundles anymore (Thomas H. Davenport, President's Chair Babson College), I'm going to talk about The New Polymath's ten rules for success which pop out at you if you read between the lines.

Why? One of the Polymath's chronicled in Vinnie's masterful manuscript is Brian Sommer, technology consultant extraordinaire of TechVentive and renowned ZDNet blogger, who asks "where are the 10 commandments for technology" as he struggles with the challenges of cyberethics that few dare to address. It's a good question, and one that I believe we are not yet ready to answer. Which leads me to ask, "how do we get there"? Well, the first step is to obviously become learned, and successful, polymaths well equipped to ask, and debate, the question. To this end, we need a guide ... a guide that, if you dig deep, is found within Vinnie's terrific tome.
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Format: Hardcover
Writing a relevant and interesting business book may be one of the toughest jobs for an author. "The New Polymath" offers a lot of good content, but on balance the book doesn't come across as particularly insightful. Nor does it provide much help for those of us building our own businesses.

To be fair, I enjoyed a lot of the book's case studies. If nothing else, Mirchandani is well connected and tenacious in pursuing information from hundreds of sources from around the world. But reading case study after case study becomes quite monotonous. And the central theme hangs together loosely, at best. A final quibble is that many of the book's paragraphs feel like they were lifted right off the company's website, or were produced by the marketing department.

The best part of "The New Polymath" is the broad scope of industries that the book covers, from cloud computing to handsets to hurricane research to clean-tech, and many more. It was eye-opening to learn how organizations (predominantly large and well established US-based companies) are innovating in various markets. Other than that, I didn't find this to be a very compelling or helpful business book.
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Format: Hardcover
I first ran into Vinnie Mirchandani's work in his "Deal Architect" blog, where he has developed a reputation for jolting enterprise software vendors with his skepticism over vendor hype and searing critiques of lazy business models. "Where is the innovation?" is one of his most common refrains. What I did not realize until recently was that Vinnie has taken it one step further, and thoroughly documented the kinds of innovations he is pressing vendors for. This is the heart of his "New Polymath" book - documenting innovations across industries, specific examples from more than 40 countries.

But if this book was just an encyclopedia of innovation, it would wind up on a shelf somewhere. It is more. Vinnie has put these innovations into a compelling narrative, a story of "grand ideas." To Vinnie, innovation is not a buzzword for spit-polishing a business model, it's a much higher stakes game. Vinnie seeks out and documents game-changing corporate initiatives - those that are rooted in community sensibility and sustainability - not simply in the ecological sense but in the broader sense of creating a better society while achieving significantly better business value. No simple task, right? Thus Vinnie's argument for the "New Polymath," the ability to "compound technologies" from eleven building blocks he details in this book - technologies that when smartly combined, enable this kind of business transformation.

This is not a pie-in-the-sky book, but a collection of case studies and specific examples. The sum of that is to challenge all of us to think bigger and pursue a more radical business purpose - not because it might happen someday, but because it's happening now.
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