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"Loonshots" Bold Innovation: Protecting and Promoting Big Ideas

Posted by Thomas Edwards on May 9, 2019 9:10 AM EDT
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As we have written many times before, almost every established and successful organization has a common problem or dilemma or paradox for bringing huge innovations...... the marketplace.  Of course, this is hard enough with products and traditional services innovations.  However, in working with socio-economic issues such as improving population health at scale, driving prosperity in communities and improving education the complexity escalates.

And that problem directly or indirectly relates to the fact that successful organizations are led by skilled, trained and historically successful "managers".  And these successful organizations often have well-honed management systems and processes and policies that are optimized around not making mistakes and carefully, effectively and efficiently allocating, directing and controlling scarce resources in order to maximize profits.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am about half-way finished reading a really good book that just came out which is written by a physicist and entrepreneur who is making a strong case in the book that there are principles that can be put in place to protect the "loon shots"-which are hugely big ideas that are unproven and likely to not survive the scrutiny of smart managers and organizations which focus on execution as a primary business tactic for improving profits, serving customers and non-customers better and leveraging competitive advantage.

Like all good books and authors, this one is written based on real-life examples.  The writing is terrific and so far the principles seem to lead to some relevant insights into how to forward big approaches in the socio-economic space we as a group tend to focus on.

So far, I am pleased with the insights that may come when completing my reading of this book.  But rather than provide specifics, I thought it would be a good idea to simply re-publish a book review from Barnes and Noble:

Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries [Book]

from  Barnes & Noble - vapour8 NY
Business / Economics ·  Hardcover ·  Non-fiction ·  368 page

Not to be missed by anyone who wants to understand how ideas change the world.” —Daniel Kahneman, winner of the Nobel Prize and author of Thinking, Fast and Slow What do James Bond and Lipitor have in common? What can we learn about human nature and world history from a glass of water?

In Loon shots, physicist and entrepreneur Safi Bahcall reveals a surprising new way of thinking about the mysteries of group behavior that challenges everything we thought we knew about nurturing radical breakthroughs. Drawing on the science of phase transitions, Bahcall shows why teams, companies, or any group with a mission will suddenly change from embracing wild new ideas to rigidly rejecting them, just as flowing water will suddenly change into brittle ice. Mountains of print have been written about culture. Loon shots identify the small shifts in the structure that controls this transition, the same way that temperature controls the change from water to ice.

Using examples that range from the spread of fires in forests to the hunt for terrorists online, and stories of thieves and geniuses and kings, Bahcall shows how this new kind of science helps us understand the behavior of companies and the fate of empires. Loon shots distill these insights into lessons for creatives, entrepreneurs, and visionaries everywhere. Over the past decade, researchers have been applying the tools and techniques of phase transitions to understand how birds flock, fish swim, brains work, people vote, criminals behave, ideas spread, diseases erupt, and ecosystems collapse. If twentieth-century science was shaped by the search for fundamental laws, like quantum mechanics and gravity, the twenty-first will be shaped by this new kind of science. Loon shots is the first to apply these tools to help all of us unlock our potential to create and nurture the crazy ideas that change the world

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