- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (December 10, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0875848141
- ISBN-13: 978-0875848143
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #435,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Serious Play: How the World's Best Companies Simulate to Innovate Hardcover – December 10, 1999
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Recall the old saying about all work and no play making Jack a dull boy? World-class companies today need play--serious play--if they want to make truly innovative products, argues Michael Schrage, an MIT Media Lab fellow and Fortune magazine columnist. In Serious Play he writes, "When talented innovators innovate, you don't listen to the specs they quote. You look at the models they've created." Whether it's a spreadsheet that tests a new financial model or a foam prototype of a calculator, what interests Schrage is not the model itself, but the behavior that play--be it modeling, prototyping, or simulation--inspires.
Schrage examines the approaches to successful prototyping at companies such as AT&T, Boeing, Microsoft, and DaimlerChrysler and describes the kind of culture that's needed for encouraging innovation. In the last chapter, he lays out the 10 rules of serious play, including: Be willing to fail early and often; know when the costs outweigh the benefits; know who wins and who loses from an innovation; build a prototype that engages customers, vendors, and colleagues; create markets around prototypes; and simulate the customer experience. Well-written and inspiring, Serious Play, is a first-rate user's guide for managers, project leaders, and other innovators. --Dan Ring
At such firms as Walt Disney, Microsoft, 3M, Sony, and Hewlitt-Packard, serious play is serious work. Schrage, a research associate at MIT Media Lab and columnist for Fortune, sets out to explore "serious play," which he defines as creative improvisation in corporations. Serious play is taking place worldwide, and it uses such "toys" as models, simulations, and prototypes. With the development of sophisticated technology, the distinction among these three toys has blurred, and they all are used as an effort to recreate some aspect of reality that matters; their real value is the insight they provide an organization. The irony of innovation in any field, especially the most competitive, is that you can't be a serious innovator unless you are willing to play--which means seriously investing in the challenge of confronting the uncertainties that future markets will bring by rigorously questioning and revising the rules. This is a "must read" book. Mary Whaley
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I especially liked Schrage's recognition of spreadsheets as a simulation tool. In discussions on simulation, spreadsheets are usually ignored because they are seen as unsophisticated. Schrage shows how spreadsheet simulations made many of the financial innovations of the 80s and early 90s possible.
In addition to convincing readers that simulations are valuable, Schrage does a good job of introducing readers to how simulations can be implemented in business. The chapters near the end of the book on measuring the ROI of simulations and his brief user's guide provide some useful tools for those interested in using simulations and prototypes to improve decision-making.
Was listening to Tom Peters the other day and he mentioned that Serious Play is one of his all time best Business books. How True...? Get it...Read it...
Well done Michael Schrage....
One key problem with the book is that it is rambling on and on without any clear structure. There are interesting ideas, but they are never pursued. A lot of the book is just meaningless filler material, but then you find some interesting and thoughtful nuggets of information. I wonder who these people are that give the book five stars? The author's students, if he is a professors? It really makes me wonder about the quality of reviews on amazon
I honestly cannot recommend this book. The author has interesting ideas, but they are not developed yet. He has another book out and I will take a look at it.
UPDATE: The author is really a one-trick-pony and has now written a book InnovatorsHypothesis about the same topic. The new book is worth reading. Not for the intellectual brilliance, but for practical insight. The availability of the new book really makes the current book a one star book