- Series: Business Books
- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education; 1 edition (February 26, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0071808213
- ISBN-13: 978-0071808217
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #780,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Red Thread Thinking: Weaving Together Connections for Brilliant Ideas and Profitable Innovation (Business Books) Hardcover – February 26, 2013
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This is not a do-it-yourself manual for innovation. Instead, consultant Kaye shares her distinctive process for discovering inventions for profit. The thinking she shares is pure marketing-research driven. Her points are fascinating but not necessarily easy to replicate by every wannabe inventor. Brainstorming, she says, is pretty much a waste of time and energy unless you start by listing wrong or misguided ideas. Failures can make for later successes (e.g., Silly Putty). Most important are her anecdotes of success: the Togo hands-free baby carrier, invented by a Peace Corps nurse serving in Africa, and the rejuvenation of Gatorade by positioning it as an after-workout beverage. Genius is indeed one-percent inspiration. --Barbara Jacobs
"It doesn't matter what stage you're at in your career or life - this book will give you an advantage." --Anne Reuss, SteamFeed
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Top Customer Reviews
Author Debra Kaye’s approach is much closer to how innovations emerge. Her’s is not a “paint-by-numbers” approach. Innovation, she explains, has its roots in “fragments of thoughts and memories, new information, playful imaginings, and data.” Combined these form a strong knowledge base that can then be used for meaningful innovation.
“I believe the best innovations are the result of unexpected connections among history, technology, culture, behaviour, needs, and emotions,” she explains.
The vast majority of books I have read on innovation are retrospective. They describe how inventors found their insights. In contrast, this book describes what you need to do to develop insights that can advance your ideas and innovations.
“Creativity” is a different way of achieving a result, but that is not enough to make a profitable product or service. To be profitable, it must captivate consumers in a significantly compelling way. Enough people must see the value in what you have made to make it commercially viable.
Many years ago, a colleague said that he “is not creative.” That assertion has stuck with me and has continued to concern me. Intuitively, I knew it was wrong.
In the first few chapters of this book, Kaye brings a significant body of evidence to prove that everyone can be creative. Geoffrey Moore, author of Dealing with Darwin, asserts “Evolution requires us to continually refresh our competitive advantage. … To innovate forever, in other words, is not an aspiration; it is a design specification (in human being).”
Neurogenesis, the science of growing brain cells, has proven that you can develop specific areas of your brain through activity. Spend more time on activities that enhance creativity and innovation and that aspect of your brain develops.
People can enhance their brain’s ability to innovate by exposure to four core areas. These are “capturing” new ideas, the engagement in challenging tasks, the broadening of your knowledge, and interacting with stimulating people and places.
Yes, creativity or innovative thinking can be practiced, learned, and enhanced.
Robert Epstein, PhD conducted an experiment in Orange County, California, involving 74 city employees. They were trained intensively in the four core areas described above. “Eight months after the training, the employees had increased their rate of new idea generation by 55 percent, bringing in more than $600,000 in new revenue and a savings of about $3.5 million through innovative cost reductions.”
McCaffrey studied 100 significant modern and 1,000 historical inventions. He was looking for the method that these successful inventors used to uncover the information that solved the problem. He second, they built a solution based on that feature. The opposite of this is what psychologists call “functional fixedness,” the overlooking of unusual features
An example of this functional fixedness is having a burr stick to your sweater. Most people who notice the burr dislodge it. The person who gets beyond “functional fixedness” focuses on how it sticks to a sweater then goes on to invent Velcro. (This is how Velcro was invented.)
A common method for idea generation is the group technique of Brainstorming. Kaye cautions against, this pointing out that the public nature of the activity actually inhibits wide range ideas. She prefers two more free-flowing and less contrived methods.
The first is freeing one’s mind completely by engaging in a “mindless” activity that allows your brain to relax and expand. The second is actually exercising your brain so that it becomes stronger and better at innovating.
Kaye highlights many other important facts about innovation that are often overlooked. Among these are that insights and ideas take time to clarify and form into a profitable innovation. Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, for example, explained that his idea needed at least a decade to mature.
Most “original” ideas are not completely original. Einstein’s E = mc2 was based on the research of others. The breakthrough was discovering how to bring them together.
Your last failure may be part of your next success, she points out. Post-it Notes was the result of a weak glue, unintentionally developed by Dr. Spence Silver at 3M. He did not discard it. Instead, he wondered what purpose it might serve, and years later, a friend found the purpose. The result is the $3b year product.
Pharmaceutical companies have to be alert to unexpected benefits because their R&D costs are so high. Pfizer struggled with the expensive development of sildenafil, a drug intended to treat angina. The developers noticed that the drug had an odd side effect. Six years later, the FDA approved Viagra for the marketplace.
Latisse, drops that help eyelashes grow longer and thicker, had a similar genesis. It was originally intended to treat glaucoma.
This book was written with the individual in mind rather than the corporation. Despite the budgets large organizations have for innovation, it is individual who bring these to light. Large corporates generally suffer from a stifling maze of red tape and bureaucracy. Working on your own is not necessarily an impediment.
Innovation is something new and of value to consumers that generates profitable growth and improves competitive advantage. If you wait for things to get better, they certainly will— but not necessarily for you.
“The beauty of making innovation part of your daily life,” writes Kaye, is that you just may think of a way to solve the world’s biggest problems while you are trying to solve a small and personal one.”
Readability Light --+-- Serious
Insights High -+--- Low
Practical High --+-- Low
Ian Mann of Gateways consults internationally on leadership and strategy
I've been in the process of starting my business, and have been reading all sorts of books - The $100 Startup,The 4-Hour Workweek,The Lean Startup,The Startup Owner's Manual, and many others. I'm disappointed to say that although entertaining, some of these books are fluff - filled with countless stories of other people that "did it", and very little practical, actionable advice. Of course, The Lean Startup is an exception - it's now accepted as instant classic, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
I was really, really happy to see that Read Thread Thinking is no fluff at all. It's a serious text that strikes the perfect balance between specific instructions and generalized thinking to help you brainstorm and develop ideas. The book is thorough, well written, uses exemplary stories, and really drills the kind of thinking you need to innovate. I applied the author's techniques to come up with many new ideas for my own business, and in general now approach problems much more creatively. 100% recommend.
One last note - like The Lean Startup, this book is a serious read. It won't tell you the story of Jimmy who started with $4 in his bedroom and now runs a multi-million dollar firm. It won't give you a 5-step plan for making your first billion. However, if you give the book the attention it deserves, it will genuinely impact and fundamentally transform your thinking, enabling you to tackle and solve business issues on your own. It teaches you to catch the proverbial fish.
I did enjoy the book. Didn't take long to read as it was so much rehashed work from others. It is well written, but adds little to the collective body of wisdom on the subject. It's primary purpose is to establish credibility for the author to attract more consulting work, which is obvious with the degree of self-promotion here. Worth reading, just don't get yiur hopes up too far.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Its simple, simple stuff... but very useful and powerful.Read more