- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; First Trade Paper edition (December 1, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1422104346
- ISBN-13: 978-1422104347
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 33 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #427,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Why Not?: How to Use Everyday Ingenuity to Solve Problems Big And Small First Trade Paper Edition
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Yale professors Barry Nalebuff and Ian Ayres engage readers in an intriguing oxymoron. They believe invention can be automated. Why Not? outlines a populist high-octane approach to creative problem solving. "We aspire for this book to change the way people think about their own ability to change the world." The authors' ideas and examples--from adopting British water conserving toilets to having telemarketers pay you to listen--bristle with energy, conviction, and occasional loopiness. Their approach upends cliched problem solving models by asking, "What would Croseus (the ancient rich king) do?" They take Edward de Bono's lateral thinking out for a spin, suggesting pay for view television might include a fee for eliminating commercials.
Nalebuff and Ayres are at their best in exploring "Idea Arbitrage," a tool for applying one solution to a host of other problems and yielding day care at IKEA, corporate vanity stamps, and library coffee houses. Some promising concepts, such as the technique of leveraging mistakes to create new solutions, are not as clear as others. Overall, the authors make an entertaining case for the idea that innovators are made and not born. --Barbara Mackoff --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
The notion that innovation can be "routinized" is a perennial theme of business theorists. This engaging primer is more insightful than the usual free-associational, brainstorming protocols. Economist Nalebuff and law professor Ayres insist that "innovation is a skill that can be taught," and distill it into a few rules of thumb, like "where else would it work?" (putting airline data recorders into cars, for example) and "would flipping it work?", which involves gonzo conceptual inversions like students raising their hands to not be called on or "reverse 900 numbers" where telemarketers pay people to accept calls. Leavened with a little economics, game theory, psychology and contract law, the authors' framework furnishes useful heuristics to analyze a host of problems from auto theft to campaign finance reform. The result is an interesting compendium of market-oriented socioeconomic fixes, some intriguing (having HMOs sell their members life insurance as an incentive to keep them alive), and a few improbable (offering Palestinians stock in Israeli companies in exchange for a peace settlement). Their system does not, alas, always live up to its billing as an assembly line for business innovations. Many of the ideas they showcase are culled from other sources, and many, like having video renters rewind before-not after-they watch the tape, amount to trivial wrinkles on established practice. The dream of reducing creativity to a set of automatic procedures, shorn of expertise, trial-and-error, eureka moments and plain old hardthinking remains elusive, but the authors seem to know it when they see it.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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1- "Some people have the notion that coming up with concrete solutions for real-world problems is somehow reserved for the experts - that the techniques for innovation are beyond the capacity of the typical person. Baloney. Innovation is a skill that can be taught. And what's more, the potential for innovation is all around us. The problem is that the sense of innovation as everyday ingenuity often gets lost in our high-tech world. That is a problem we aim to fix with this book."
2- "Most "original" ideas aren't completely original, but instead are the result of two basic methods for generating ideas: problems in search of solutions and solutions in search of problems. People usually think of problem solving as a search for solutions. But in everything we do, we look for symmetries. Thus, we also see that problem solving can be a search for problems once you've found a good solution. Both approaches have their advantages."
3- "What would Croesus do? Why Don't you feel my pain? Where else would it work? Would flipping it work?...We have now introduced four central idea-generating tools: WWCD, internalization, translation, and symmetry...Now, you might be asking, are these the only tools out there for generating ideas? The answer is clearly no. There are rich theories of how scientific discoveries play out over time - incrementally adding to our knowledge through systematic and painstaking experimentation. But our why-not tools are geared toward discovering solutions that in a sense already exist but have just bot been put into effect...You need to learn different tools because some solutions can best be found with particular tools."
4- "Principled problem solving means that you take into account the principles that any solution must satisfy. The more of these principles you can identify, the closer you are to the solution. There may be fewer options to explore, but those are the right ones to focus on...While we typically think of filters as constraints, we want to convince you that identifying the underlying attributes of any solution can be liberating and can actually help you generate ideas."
5- "Coming up with a great idea is only the beginning of the battle. If you really want to change your company or the world, you need to sell the idea and you need others to buy in. The art of persuasion is particularly important because, and we've repeatedly emphasized, many ideas for great new products or services are not great ideas to start new businesses. Sometimes - usually, in fact - the best entity to put the idea into practice will be an existing firm. Even if your idea is, objectively speaking, brilliant, you won't necessarily have an easy time selling others on it. Be prepared to encounter remarkable levels of resistance and prejudice along the way."
Charles L. Hooper, coauthor Making Great Decisions in Business and Life
Most recent customer reviews
The following quote from the preface sums it up:
Discovery consists of seeing what everyone else has...Read more