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Borrowing Brilliance: The Six Steps to Business Innovation by Building on the Ideas of Others Paperback – 1 Apr 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Business (1 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847940196
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847940193
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 770,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

How to create business success by borrowing ideas from elsewhere

From the Back Cover

All great business ideas come from visionary geniuses. Right? Wrong!

In fact most major breakthroughs and innovations happen when people take an existing idea and build on it, and in Borrowing Brilliance David Kord Murray shows exactly how it's done. A successful businessman and entrepreneur himself, he has evolved a unique and highly practical method both for tackling existing problems and coming up with fresh thinking on everything from improving structures that have faltered to developing completely new products.

It just takes six simple steps.

'A wonderfully enjoyable tour of the creative process ... People will be stealing from this work for years to come!' Roger von Oech, author of A Whack on the Side of the Head and The Creative Whack Pack

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Others have their own reasons for praising this book. Here are two of mine. First, David Kord Murray immediately states his core thesis and then develops it with original (rather than borrowed) brilliance throughout the narrative that follows. Here it is, in composite form: "Ideas are constructed out of other ideas, there are no original thoughts, you can't make something out of nothing, you have to make it out of something else. It's the law of cerebral physics. Ideas are born of other ideas, built in and out of the ideas that came before. That's why I say that brilliance is borrowed...An idea is like a house or a building. Your business problem is the foundation of that house. In other words, you build your idea on a foundation of well-defined problems. Once defined, you borrow ideas from places with a comparable problem...Then, you take these borrowed ideas and start combining them to form the overall structure of your house, to form the structure of your new solution."

I also admire the scope and depth of primary and secondary sources that Murray cites within the framework of the six steps to innovation. For example, Step One involves defining the problem to be solved. Murray advises that the foundation for solving the problem be on "solid ground" and that the problem is viewed in context (e.g. scope) rather than in isolation. His sources include Sergey Brin and Larry Page ("the Google Guys", Isaac Newton, and James Maxwell.

Step Two involves borrowing ideas from wherever there is or has been a similar problem: "borrowing brilliance is the search for ideas" and what Murray calls "creative combinations" are the result of borrowing from competitors, observations, other people, while traveling away from home, from what Murray calls "the opposite place" (i.e.
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By Richard Griffiths VINE VOICE on 13 July 2010
Format: Paperback
I'd actually give this 4.5 stars rather than 5. Reason? A few phrases David loves to repeat, lots of times. "Let me explain". :)

This book is built on 2 metaphors (construction and evolution) that are used very well to get his point across. The notion of borrowing is well explained and leaves me wandering why on Earth society has been so stupid as to insist on *copyright and severe originality. The point he makes is that ALL ideas and creativity are in actually fact borrowings, evolutions and recombinations of other ideas past and present.

Whilst built on 2 overarching metaphors, he's read Lakoff and it shows. The book is packed with metaphors to explain the 6 steps. Rather than spoilt it by listing them here, I will say that only one small metaphor didn't hit home with me (it was a golf reference, and I've no clue!).

Excellent and well worth the couple of hours it's taken me to read. I do have many books on creativity on my shelves and have comparison. However this is one I'd give to colleagues/future employees as a bit of homework as it clarifies a process that is a mystery to many mortals such as myself. The initial chapters exploring problem definition are an absolute golden read. If you have to read just one bit in the that section.

I'm not sure if David has read any modern therapy type books or similar as the one thing I've noticed is repetition is quite prevalent in this text. It doesn't detract at all, if anything it helps a lot, so I suspect it's quite intentional. The combination of story and explanatory text works and your not treated to any piles of jargon or acronyms here. This, compared to a number of books, is a breath of fresh air.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stevie F. on 22 Jun. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What a complete waste of money!! i flicked through it in an hour and did not find any innovative ideas at all !!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 41 reviews
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Good Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal 5 Sept. 2009
By K. Sampanthar - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
David Kord Murray; aerospace engineer, entrepreneur, innovator, fortune 500 executive; has managed to write one of the most personal, practical and insightful books on the innovation process. It is well written and a joy to read.

If you want to learn how to innovate; whether you an aspiring or current entrepreneur, working in a large/small corporation or self employed; whether you are working in the corporate world, or entertainment, media or academia; you will find within these pages a process that will lead to higher quantity and quality of ideas. Murray shares with you not only his personal story that illuminates and illustrates the process of innovation, but also gives you a unrivaled view into the journey of an innovator; a hero's journey. This is not for someone that just wants to manage the innovation process; this is for someone that wants to innovate; individually, as a team or company; someone who wants to generate ideas and implement them.

Detailed Review
I have been researching creativity and innovation for 2 decades and I have read far and wide on the subject and even developed my own innovation system based on my research; this is the first time I have read a book that covers the same breath and depth of my research and that came to the same conclusions. Murray's research and journey is very reminiscent from engineer to entrepreneur to innovator. His reading list (some listed at the back of the book and some that I can tell from his writing) mirrors my own from scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs. He draws from the lives and ideas of people like Einstein, Darwin, Edison, Disney, Jobs, Gates, Nash, Lucas, Page and Brin and draws from research in neuroscience, psychology, cognitive science, philosophy, cinematography, economics, biology, evolution and business to develop a process that is one of the best encapsulations of true innovation.

I am not sure I have ever read a business book like this. Murray shares his own personal journey that led to him developing this innovation process. The story is very personal and probably one of the most insightful books on the joys and agonies of innovation and entrepreneurship. His story not only describes the ideas he developed for his companies; a ground breaking financial services firm, one of the most successful direct mail campaigns and successful online tax software; but also shows the messy, warts and all innovation process. Most authors stick to explaining their successes and gloss over their failures. Murray courageously shares the ups and downs, and I feel this makes the book even more powerful. Innovation is messy and most people focus on the end result too much, when the real magic of innovation is in this messy, iterative, recursive and fractal process.

I have to admit when I saw this book and it's subtitle - `The Six Steps to Business Innovation by Building on the Ideas of Others' I was expecting yet another lightweight, fluffy book on how to innovate. I was pleasantly surprised, no amazed, to find one of the most thorough articulations of the innovation process. I have been teaching innovation for years and I find myself in awe at how much Murray has managed to fit into this book while making it practical and down to earth. Anyone can pick up this book and if they really read and follow his advice can develop their own ideas. My own personal mission has been to teach innovation to people and finally I have found a book that explains the real process.

The book is well written and the stories bring the deep ideas behind innovation to life. For many years now I have been recommending a series of books to people who want to learn about innovation: The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America's Leading Design Firm, How Breakthroughs Happen: The Surprising Truth About How Companies Innovate, Medici Effect: What Elephants and Epidemics Can Teach Us About Innovation and A Technique for Producing Ideas (Advertising Age Classics Library). Murray has managed to write a book that encapsulates all these books and makes them obsolete!

Let me repeat; anyone can pick up this book and if they really read and follow his advice can develop their own ideas/innovations. I can't give any higher praise.

NOTE ABOUT THE REVIEW TITLE: Good Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal - to me is about how when a great artist understands the thought that went into a great idea or a piece of art, they don't just create a replica, they generate a piece of original art themselves that draws from the very essence of an idea. It's the difference between iPod and Zune; iPod reinvented the personal music experience (great artist), Zune just copied the iPod (good artist). Read this book and you will understand how to be a great artist.

Kes Sampanthar
Inventor of ThinkCube
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Borrowing Brilliance 5 Jan. 2010
By D. Stark - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Just finished reading "Borrowing Brillance" by David Kord Murray... which I heard about when it was reviewed in BusinessWeek.

The overarching theme behind Murray's book is business ideas and where they come from... with that spot often not being one of "out of the blue" originality. That said, I found the guy himself as being almost as interesting as where the ideas come from.

The Guy

Murray seems quite the interesting fellow given his personal and business highs and lows described in the book. He first worked as a NASA engineer and then became an entrepreneur who was poised to sell his Lake Tahoe based financial company for $50 million, and would up with close to nothing. Through a combination of his past experience, lots of reading and a good contact made, Murray eventually found himself consulting with Intuit on the Turbo Tax direct mail program. This then led to a full time Innovation Exec role at Intuit, and then another entrepreneurial venture and now him writing this book and living back in Lake Tahoe.

Solid stuff and his story seems to be an interesting example of how speed bumps can come and you may not know where you'll wind up, but you just try to keep moving forward.

The Business Ideas

As stated previously, the book works with the concepts of ideas... and how to generate, repurpose and repackage them. Following up on this idea of pattern recognition and meaning making, Murray writes of how as a business society we're now out of the information age and onto the conceptual or innovation age.

The structure of the book is broken into 6 steps:

1. Defining - Define the problem and figure out the right one to work on. The idea here is on of scope and how small problems can both fit within and when solved, sometimes create other ones. Murray cited Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page as good people to think of when considering problem definition. The idea behind Google began when they were Stanford PhD students, each working on a separate data mining problem. This led to thinking about organizing information, which led to search. Now that the lower level problem of search has been worked (and of course, continues to be), Google has moved back to the high level problem they talk about of organizing the world's information.

Related to this idea, I also think of the information architect field and how it focuses on the presentation of data, facts and ideas... interesting stuff.

2. Borrowing - Take ideas from places near and far. This is tied to the third step, but focuses on looking for the answers to your problems from yes, your competitors, but also other fields of work entirely. Murray writes heavily about Hollywood and how the construction of movies into acts with emotional triggers and levels was something he thought about in relation to the Turbo Tax offering while at Intuit.

This is in many ways the concept of critical observation... just with a wide net.

3. Combining - Throw the ideas together and try lots of different iterations. Related to borrowing, Murray writes about Star Wars and how George Lucas spend years working on it until he had the perfect combination of science fiction and mythology (with the light saber as an example). Also discussed by Murray in relation to these borrowed combinations were Google utilizing page ranks, Disneyland being built to scale like a movie set and Facebook as a metaphor of a college yearbook.

Interesting concept... causes me to think about Social Networking and web publishing as done through various sources such as Facebook, blogs, Digg and Ning among others.

4. Incubating - allow the combinations to come together.
This step centers on the concept of the subconscious mind being the best source of creative ideas. Murray describes historical intellects like Einstein and Newton as being in touch with their subconscious, but also provides his thoughts (in the three bullets below) on how people can train themselves to get more in touch with their subconscious.

- Input: Think about what problems you want to solve.
- Incubation: Work on clearing the mind... whether it be throw daily walks, meditation or simply doing creative work immediately after a good night of sleep.
- Output: Be willing to let ideas in, but not be held captive by them. Sort of a duality concept of listening to ideas and emotional responses, but at the same time having doubts about them so as to not get led astray by something that is not a true belief.

I liked this concept as it made me think of how creativity doesn't always come, but when it does, you want to run with and get the most out of it. Most simple example of this would be people who jot down thoughts that come to them so that they're not lost in the ether...

5. Judging - Identify strengths and weaknesses... the throwing out of the bad parts of any idea and expanding of the best.

6. Enhancing - Eliminate the weak and enhance the strong. This sounds a lot like point five, but Murray describes it as in many ways being like a recycling of points one through five. Just continually cycle the process.

The conclusion of Murray's book contains his view of "the creative life"... and how one can view these steps as being part of a creative process around more than just business.

Solid stuff and it reminds me of some of the great John Gardner's writing.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Borrowing Brilliance is a must read ... 10 Sept. 2009
By Mara Lindstrom - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Borrowing Brilliance is one of the most intelligent, thought-provoking, and inspiring accounts of the creative process that I have ever encountered. For those of you who are active creative thinkers, you must acknowledge that the process/technique of creative thinking and innovation is articulated so well by author David Kord Murray, that he has made it accessible to those who once viewed it impossible or solely, a 'gift'.
An exhaustive amount of research in all disciplines be it psychology, philosophy, science, literature or entertainment, along with the variety of personalities, inventors, scientists, authors, and entrepreneurs cited, sprinkled with the author's own personal story make this a compelling read. Mr. Murray puts it all on the line by exposing both his own failures and triumphs to demonstrate how his technique is applied and works. For those of you who do not think you have what it takes to be a creative thinker, you will learn. For those of you who have your name on copyrights, trademarks, & patents and believe you are the ultimate creative thinker, you will be humbled. This is truly an important book that I highly recommend for the individual and professional alike.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Borrowed Brillance in Authoring 16 Sept. 2009
By C. Miller - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Bottom line: good book to add to the innovation book library because it integrates borrowed brillance on innovation into an easy-read suitable for the masses. David Murray is a great role model of his teachings. He has borrowed the brillance of Peter Senge, Albert Einstein, existing root cause analysis principles, the creativity techniques of DeBono et al, TRIZ, a number of engineering principles, and much more. If the way he presents it enables more people to benefit from these principles and practices, then that's a good thing. For the well-read and experienced innovator, you'll pick up a few new examples and perhaps some new ways of communicating what you already know.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Something new to say about creativity 4 Sept. 2009
By Stephanie Diamond - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I've read many books about creativity over the years in search of golden nuggets. This book fulfills that search! It is amazingly well-written and provides a real action plan for innovation. Not like other fluffy business books about finding good ideas. This book is a must read.
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