Never before have we seen companies innovate so quickly, demographics shift so swiftly, and technologies disrupt an established landscape so completely, writes Platypus Labs cofounder Kaiser Yang in this upbeat guide to business innovation. So how can readers compete? Real creative work and problem-solving happen when people know how to think outside of the box, or “crack the code,” he posits.
From growing up in Tokyo to receiving his MBA from the University of Michigan to working at global conglomerates and starting his own business, Yang observed the benefits of creative thinking. What separates a creative problem-solver from a traditionalist, he believes, is the ability to take risks and break out of familiar ways of thinking.
Yang provides dozens of inspiring examples, such as Massoud Hassani, creator of the Mine Kafon, a device that explodes landmines; Zara founder Amancio Ortega; and Impossible Burger creator Patrick Brown.
The author intersperses their motivational stories with concrete exercises and worksheets to encourage rapid experimentation and a departure from hidebound “the way we’ve always done it” mindsets. For example, one exercise asks readers to think of ways to “mash up” two unrelated businesses: “How about a mash-up of a movie theater with a hospital? Cable TV with higher education? Tiktok with life insurance?” Another prompts readers to draw a grid of circles, then turn as many of the circles as possible—in 45 seconds—into “recognizable objects,” like a clock or smiley face.
The execution feels a bit buzzwordy: four core mindsets (“Every Barrier Can Be Penetrated,” “Compasses Over Maps,” “Nothing is Static,” “Diversity is a Force Multiplier); eight keys to unlock innovation; ten commandments of brainstorming (“Thou Shalt Not Look Backward”), etc. But that’s a quibble. The slim offering is packed with inspiration and thought-provoking ideas.
This is an energetic book that will inspire readers to break out of the mold. Cover quotes from luminaries like Seth Godin are likely to help garner attention for this useful resource.