Michael Schrage is perhaps our #1 Innovation Guru. For the last half dozen years, he's been obsessed with the importance of prototyping. In fact, Schrage claims that innovation is how we react to the prototype. How we react when we see a test. What that leads us to conjure up ... for the next test. Schrage has taken it to a brilliant extreme in his utterly marvelous book ... Serious Play: How the World's Best Companies Simulate to Innovate.
YOU MUST READ in "The Old Print Version" The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business As Usual. There's a lot here I think is bullshit. But I love the baldly polemic nature of this treatise. So: read it, inhale it. If it pisses you off, GREAT! [The Website is a must, too!] By Christopher Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searles & David Weinberger.
My take on "standard" big acquisitions is perfectly captured by consultant and business professor Mark Sirower in The Synergy Trap: How Companies Lose the Acquisition Game. Quote: "When asked to name just one big merger that had lived up to expectations, Leon Cooperman [of Goldman Sachs] answered: 'I'm sure there are success stories out there, but at this moment I draw a blank.' "
"The leaders of Great Groups love talent and know where to find it. They revel in the talent of others." A quote I use often, from Warren Bennis & Patricia Ward Biederman: Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration.
Another quote: "Even if executives of established businesses grasp the impact of new technologies ... they still face a massive competitive disadvantage precisely because they are incumbents. ... They do complex financial calculations and get bogged down in internal political debates. Insurgents have no such inhibitions." From Philip Evans & Thomas Wurster in Blown to Bits: How the New Economics of Information Transforms Strategy.
Ken Dychtwald wrote Age Wave: How the Most Important Trend of Our Time Will Change Our Future, and, more recently, Age Power: How the 21st Century Will Be Ruled by the New Old. My quote from Age Wave: "At each stage of their lives, the needs and desires of the baby boomers have become the dominant concerns of American business and popular culture. If you can predict the moves of the baby-boom generation's life-span migration, you can see the future."
"Experiences," write Joseph Pine & James Gilmore in The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre and Every Business a Stage, "are as distinct from services as services are from goods."
Visit their COOL website
This book is out of print, but it's worth searching out through your favorite online bookseller, based on the title alone! But its author, Ralph Caplan, is also a widely recognized authority on design. The title: By Design: Why There Are No Locks on the Bathroom Doors in the Hotel Louis XIV, and Other Object Lessons.
Another favorite quote is this: "Men and women don't think the same way, don't communicate the same way, don't buy for the same reasons ... He simply wants the transaction to take place. She's interested in creating a relationship. Every place women go, they make connections." It's from Clicking: 16 Trends To Future Fit Your Life, Your Work, and Your Business, by Faith Popcorn & Lys Marigold.
Visit Faith's website
Bringing us to my BIGGEST "thing" for 2001. Women! ... Here's an addendum to the list I started in March 2001.
First another book by Faith Popcorn & Lys Marigold: EVEolution: The Eight Truths of Marketing to Women. Is it a perfect book? No. None is, in my extensive experience. But I also think that my experience is extensive enough to be able to say ... unequivocally ... that this is a genuine original.
I recommend this book by our latest Cool Friend, Deborah Tannen: You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation.
Then there's Harvard sociologist Carol Gilligan's classic study: In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development.
Here are the latest books I've been reading:
The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life, by Parker Palmer.
success@life: How to Catch and Live your Dream, A Zentrepreneur's Guide, by Ron Rubin & Stuart Avery Gold.
Cisco Unauthorized: Inside the High-Stakes Race to Own the Future, by Jeffrey S. Young.
Creative Destruction: Why Companies That Are Built to Last Underperform the Market—And How to Successfully Transform Them, by Richard Foster & Sarah Kaplan.
The eProcess Edge: Creating Customer Value and Business Wealth in the Internet Era, by Peter Keen & Mark McDonald.
Two more books I've been quoting for quite a while are biographies.
Saul Bellow: The Adventures of Augie March. Quote: "I am an American, Chicago born, and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way."
John Buchan: Sick Heart River. Quote: Rabbi Zusya: "In the world to come I shall not be asked, 'Why were you not Moses?' I'll be asked, 'Why were you not Zusya?' "
Perhaps the first New Economy free-lancer is Travis McGee, who goes to work only when the pile of money in his hidey-hole gets uncomfortably low. A detective series by John D. MacDonald, from The Deep Blue Good-by in 1964 (re-released in 1995), to The Lonely Silver Rain in 1985. They're a tad misogynistic (consider the times!), but I promise that once you start, you'll plow through these books.