Thursday, November 20, 2014

Book Notes: How to Kill a Unicorn

by Mark Payne, founder of Fahrenheit 212

Book Subtitle: How the world's hottest innovation factory builds bold ideas that make it to market.

Favorite Quotes:

On whatever innovation challenge you're trying to crack, look for that distinctive set of problems that your competitors aren't working on... Unique problem sets can't help but spawn unique answers. The odds are good that you, too, will soon experience the sort of calm excitement that comes with seeing the obvious for the first time.

Potential for change is the reason we get goose bumps from great insights - they hurl open the gates to new possibilities that weren't visible before.

Humans innovating for humans can get pretty far using their humanity.

A successful two-sided innovation requires:
   - a great idea that opens up big new possibilities for both consumers and the companies that serve them.
   - a great product (or better yet a family of them expanding over time) delivering on the possibilities and promises embedded in the idea, and
   - a great business shaped around that idea and product

My Thoughts

As a stay-at-home mom with young kids who has nothing to do with the business world, I'm quite sure that I'm not the target for this book, but I liked it anyway. His writing-style and examples were very understandable for a newbie, and he included what I like best: stories. I think that his innovation model would work for any organization wanting to break new ground.

His five main ideas are:

1) Look for a two-sided win/win (i.e. for the business and for the consumer)

2) Aim for low business disruption combined with high market disruption (something the company can already do that creates a new, desirable product)

3) Ask transformational questions (look for problems your competitors aren't trying to solve)

4) Use a spatula (turn weaknesses into strengths)

5) Insight = Truth (look for unresolved tensions and company/consumer pain points, hear what people do not say)

His company has helped the underdogs and the big dogs in the business world, and it sounds like an amazing place to work. He could have kept what he's learned to himself, but he didn't, and I admire that. Companies want to make more money, and consumers want better products and benefits. Payne's approach is an inspiring way to make this happen for both sides. Although his ideas may seem obvious and simple, they are revolutionary and took time to develop. As Galileo said, "All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them."

I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

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