The importance of innovative thinking has come to the forefront this year, as doctors and scientists race for medical treatments and vaccines and we all pivoted on every aspect of public, economic, and personal life in order to navigate the upheaval brought on by the pandemic. In business, conventional approaches to innovation – like design thinking – are good at producing incremental innovations. Yet truly breakthrough solutions remain elusive.
In this book Cyril Bouquet, Jean-Louis Barsoux, and Michael Wade reveal the mindset that drives creativity and innovation, and present a model that enables people to cultivate a fresh perspective and generate one breakthrough solution after another.
The authors have spent the last decade researching pioneering thinkers and change makers in a wide range of professions: entrepreneurs, designers, medics, architects, scientists, chefs, and artists, among others. Through this research and their work with corporate clients, they have identified a recurrent pattern in the way creative solutions evolve and survive. While most of us get stuck in tired, well-worn patterns of thinking, people who generate truly breakthrough ideas look at their world like aliens – outsiders unburdened by the assumptions, biases, and conventional thinking that constrain imagination. In ALIEN Thinking, they teach readers to adjust their lenses to see as an alien would see, allowing them to escape conformity and devise truly breakthrough solutions to important problems. Their framework is both a mindset change and an operating model, based on five strategies:
- A – Attention – look with fresh eyes to observe problems that need to be solved, opportunities worth addressing, and solutions that can be dramatically improved or revised
- L – Levitation – step back from the creative process to gain perspective and enrich your understanding
- I – Imagination – recognize hard-to-see patterns and to connect seemingly disparate dots to imagine unorthodox combinations
- E – Experimentation – test ideas quickly and smartly, with the goal of improving – not just proving – your idea
- N – Navigation – deal with potentially hostile environments and adjust to the forces that can make or break your solution
In ALIEN Thinking, the authors share inspiring stories of people who exemplify this mindset at its finest – the doctor who developed the first breakthrough Ebola treatment, the balloonist Betrand Piccard's first circumnavigation of the Earth without using fuel, a British inventor's device that creates electrical power from human footsteps, and creators like the world-renowned architect Frank Gehry and the pioneering chef Ferran Adrià. They also offer specific advice for cultivating each component.
Finally, ALIEN Thinking tackles a crucial yet overlooked truth about innovation: human emotions and personality traits can easily derail even the most ALIEN of thinkers. Along the innovation journey, innovators will be beset by fears, doubts, regrets, and frustrations, or, conversely, misplaced feelings of confidence, certainty, and invulnerability. Paradoxically, you can run into trouble because of your strengths as well as your shortcomings. The authors offer advice on how to manage these internal barriers, so they don’t trip you up on your path to breakthrough solutions.
A sharp critique of the conventional wisdom around innovation—with thought-provoking advice for how to do it better. Jake Knaap, inventor of the Design Sprint and New York Times bestselling author
Apply ALIEN Thinking to go from early opportunity recognition to impactful innovation. I really enjoyed how this book offers compelling insights and powerful illustrations to enhance the innovation process. Alex Osterwalder,
author of the two-million copy bestseller Business Model Generation
Stuck in innovation stagnation? Read this brilliant book, and you’ll break free from it. Rolf Dobelli, author of the million-copy bestseller The Art of Thinking Clearly
ALIEN Thinking is an accessible approach to finding and implementing breakthrough ideas. The authors offer illuminating examples to introduce and illustrate the real-world efficacy of each of the major concepts. I recommend this book to anyone willing to do the hard work of generating and implementing breakthrough ideas. Bernard Roth, academic director of the Stanford School and author of The Achievement Habit
A must-read for corporate innovators and intrapreneurs, to create true value for their customers and organizations. Esther Seidl-Nussbaumer, head of corporate innovation, SIGVARIS
Compared to many innovation books, this one is unique in that it emphasizes the emotional side of innovation. Practicing innovators will find a sympathetic companion in this fascinating book. Keith Sawyer, author of Zig Zag and Group Genius
In today’s fast-changing world, innovation is essential for success. The authors of ALIEN Thinking have drawn upon their extensive experience to provide a powerful new framework to dramatically improve the odds for innovative thinking and breakthroughs. Robert Rosenberg, retired CEO of Dunkin’ Donuts and author of Around the Corner to Around the World
I wish I had read this book years ago. A very pragmatic and eye-opening framework to help make innovation a game-changing reality, whether you are in a small start-up or a big multi-national corporation. Chris Johnson, executive vice president of Nestlé, chief executive officer of Zone Asia, Oceania, and sub-Saharan Africa
A powerful formula for transforming businesses and shaking up industries. Michael Watkins, author of The First 90 Days
Also avalaible as:
ALIEN Thinking: How to Bring Your Breakthrough Ideas to Life
Penguin Business, ISBN 9780241481974