Beyond the Obvious: Killer Questions That Spark Game-Changing Innovation

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The Killer Questions Your Company Should Be Asking

Generating and executing great ideas is the key to staying ahead in a rapidly changing world. It seems so basic. Why is it so hard to actually get right? According to innovation expert Phil McKinney, the real problem is that we're teaching people to ask the wrong questions about their businesses--or none at all. There has to be a better way.

In Beyond the Obvious, McKinney will help you use his proven FIRE (Focus, Ideation, Rank, Execution) Method to dig deeper and get back to asking the right questions--the ones all companies must ask to survive. Full of real-world examples, this book will change the way you operate, innovate, and create, and it all begins with battle-tested questions Phil has gathered on note cards throughout his career. Shared for the first time here, these "Killer Questions" include:

  • What are the rules and assumptions my industry operates under? What if the opposite were true?
  • What will be the buying criteria used by my customer in 5 years?
  • What are my unshakable beliefs about what my customers want?
  • Who uses my product in ways I never anticipated?
These questions will reframe the way you see your products, your customers, and the way the two interact. Whether you're a company of thousands or a lean startup, Beyond the Obvious will give you the skills and easy-to-follow plan you need to make both the revolutionary changes and nuanced tweaks required for success.

Praise for Beyond the Obvious

"Human beings are creatures of habit, so getting ourselves and our teams to think beyond the obvious is a challenge we face all the time. Phil McKinney is an innovation expert, and his killer questions and hit-the-spot anecdotes provide a great way to get out in front of opportunities we otherwise won't see."
--Geoffrey Moore, author of Crossing the Chasm and Escape Velocity

"I've always believed that asking the right questions is the essence of design. Phil McKinney proves that point with this wonderful set of killer questions that will jumpstart-or greatly enhance- your innovation efforts."
--B. Joseph Pine II, co-author, The Experience Economy & Infinite Possibility.

"Product Innovation is a prerequisite to building great brands. Phil's questions are a prerequisite to building innovative products."
--Satjiv S. Chahil, former global marketing chief, Apple
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About the author

Phil McKinney is the vice president and chief technology officer for Hewlett-Packard's (HP) Personal Systems Group, where he is responsible for long-range strategic planning and research and development for all of the company's PC product lines, including displays, mobile devices, notebooks, desktops, and workstations. Over the course of his career, he has been profiled or had his work on innovation written about in media outlets ranging from tech press to Vanity Fair, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. McKinney also writes a column for Forbes called "The Objective," hosts a popular "Killer Innovations" podcast that CIO Insight has called "a must listen," and tweets from his @philmckinney handle. He currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. This is his first book.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Hachette Books
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Published on
Feb 7, 2012
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9781401304133
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Development / Business Development
Business & Economics / Entrepreneurship
Business & Economics / Strategic Planning
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Content protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Business knowledge has been evolving ever since the emergence of the first economic book, The Wealth of Nations, written by Adam Smith. A profound load of business management theories, concepts, notions, techniques and tools have been developed. However, pragmatic applications of those “good stuffs” to business in practice seem not quite satisfactory. Many evidences show that the majority of senior managers are still reactive (instead of proactive) to the environmental changes, myopia in strategic planning, inconsistent in managing and bias in analyzing. Those are obviously the handicaps in the treacherously changing business environment. On the other hand, the under-performance of MBA graduates somehow reveals that there might be a need to renovate and supplement the current education system in management. Those problems will be well defined and addressed in this book through introducing a new approach in thinking and effective methods that can readily help resolve these problems. Unlike the pure academic writings, our principles, systems, methods and tools are developed based upon not only academic theories, but also the practical experiences through being practiced and testified in numerous business cases in reality. Furthermore, our principles and systems are designed to be readily applicable to business in practice.Business in its nature is a holistic and indivisible piece of matter, and it is also a complex, volatile and conceptual matter as well. The former characteristics hinder the business practitioners from managing and making decisions effectively while the latter ones hinder the students from acquiring the mastery of its overall rationale. Image that, without a holistic and integrative framework and engineering mindset, the tasks of business planning and implementation might end up like constructing a cross-sea bridge without an overall blueprint and engineering concepts and practices. Unfortunately, there is by far no such a single framework that provides a holistic view systematically and visually that allows people to concisely capture the essence of business.Conceptualization is deemed to be one of the crucial abilities in strategic planning and decision making for senior executive level and usually becomes a bottleneck for many middle managers to move up along their career ladder. One of the challenges of conceptualizing business lies in the complexity and vagueness of the relationship among numerous business elements. For removing this difficulty to a considerable extent, we take the systematic approach to provide the framework that holistically captures the panorama of business environment and logically integrates the essential business elements in seamless manner, from financial status and performance to management functions to strategy to market environment to macro environment. Essentially, our system serves as a frame of mind in the field of business, called Business “MindFrame”, in which people can be aided in better modeling business contexts, reasoning the business decisions out, and charting the effective courses of actions rationally.Published by SCPG Publishing Corporation and distributed by World Scientific for all markets except China
Often downplayed in the excitement of starting up a new business venture is one of the most important decisions entrepreneurs will face: should they go it alone, or bring in cofounders, hires, and investors to help build the business? More than just financial rewards are at stake. Friendships and relationships can suffer. Bad decisions at the inception of a promising venture lay the foundations for its eventual ruin. The Founder's Dilemmas is the first book to examine the early decisions by entrepreneurs that can make or break a startup and its team.

Drawing on a decade of research, Noam Wasserman reveals the common pitfalls founders face and how to avoid them. He looks at whether it is a good idea to cofound with friends or relatives, how and when to split the equity within the founding team, and how to recognize when a successful founder-CEO should exit or be fired. Wasserman explains how to anticipate, avoid, or recover from disastrous mistakes that can splinter a founding team, strip founders of control, and leave founders without a financial payoff for their hard work and innovative ideas. He highlights the need at each step to strike a careful balance between controlling the startup and attracting the best resources to grow it, and demonstrates why the easy short-term choice is often the most perilous in the long term.



The Founder's Dilemmas draws on the inside stories of founders like Evan Williams of Twitter and Tim Westergren of Pandora, while mining quantitative data on almost ten thousand founders.


People problems are the leading cause of failure in startups. This book offers solutions.

The Challenge
Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the verybeginning.

But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?

The Study
For years, this question preyed on the mind of Jim Collins. Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?

The Standards
Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world's greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.

The Comparisons
The research team contrasted the good-to-great companies with a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to make the leap from good to great. What was different? Why did one set of companies become truly great performers while the other set remained only good?

Over five years, the team analyzed the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study. After sifting through mountains of data and thousands of pages of interviews, Collins and his crew discovered the key determinants of greatness -- why some companies make the leap and others don't.

The Findings
The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice. The findings include:

Level 5 Leaders: The research team was shocked to discover the type of leadership required to achieve greatness. The Hedgehog Concept (Simplicity within the Three Circles): To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence. A Culture of Discipline: When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great results. Technology Accelerators: Good-to-great companies think differently about the role of technology. The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Those who launch radical change programs and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap.

“Some of the key concepts discerned in the study,” comments Jim Collins, "fly in the face of our modern business culture and will, quite frankly, upset some people.”

Perhaps, but who can afford to ignore these findings?

The #1 New York Times bestseller that has all America talking: as seen/heard on CNN, Morning Joe, CBS This Morning, The Bill Simmons Podcast, Rich Roll, and more.

Shortlisted for the Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award

“I love this idea [RANGE], because I think of myself as a jack of all trades.” — Fareed Zakaria, CNN
  
“The most important business—and parenting—book of the year.” —Forbes

“Urgent and important. . . an essential read for bosses, parents, coaches, and anyone who cares about improving performance.” —Daniel H. Pink  

“As David Epstein shows us, cultivating range prepares us for the wickedly unanticipated… a well-supported and smoothly written case on behalf of breadth and late starts.” —Wall Street Journal

Plenty of experts argue that anyone who wants to develop a skill, play an instrument, or lead their field should start early, focus intensely, and rack up as many hours of deliberate practice as possible. If you dabble or delay, you’ll never catch up to the people who got a head start. But a closer look at research on the world’s top performers, from professional athletes to Nobel laureates, shows that early specialization is the exception, not the rule.    

David Epstein examined the world’s most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, forecasters and scientists. He discovered that in most fields—especially those that are complex and unpredictable—generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. Generalists often find their path late, and they juggle many interests rather than focusing on one. They’re also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can’t see.

Provocative, rigorous, and engrossing, Range makes a compelling case for actively cultivating inefficiency. Failing a test is the best way to learn. Frequent quitters end up with the most fulfilling careers. The most impactful inventors cross domains rather than deepening their knowledge in a single area. As experts silo themselves further while computers master more of the skills once reserved for highly focused humans, people who think broadly and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives will increasingly thrive.
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