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Harvard Business Review on Breakthrough Thinking ("Harvard Business Review" Paperback) Paperback – 1 Aug 1999


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  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Press (1 Aug. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157851181X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578511815
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 1.9 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 161,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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WHEN I CONSIDER all the organizations I have studied and worked with over the past 22 years, there can be no doubt: creativity gets killed much more often than it gets supported. Read the first page
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By DAVID-LEONARD WILLIS on 13 July 2004
Format: Paperback
Creativity and innovation are the keys to competitive advantage in the knowledge economy and this book is a collection of eight HBR articles on how to organize for innovation. Many companies unintentionally crush employee's intrinsic motivation in pursuit of productivity, efficiency and control, but creativity requires expertise, motivation and the ability to think flexibly and imaginatively. Key factors are challenge, freedom, the design of the work group, encouragement, and organizational support but with careful planning it is possible to create an organization in which business imperatives are attended to and creativity flourishes. As innovation takes place through creative abrasion, care must be taken to prevent players with different worldviews and thinking styles having personal disputes. Managers often prefer like-thinking staff, neglecting a dynamic set of individuals whose counter culture thinking patterns are considered disruptive. A mix of right- and left-brain individuals is required to develop new approaches to the business.
There are many lessons to be learned from a film unit where talented people band together for a short time; success depends on getting the right personnel, enabling them to work well together, motivating them to peak performance, leading them to create on schedule, and handling the stresses that arise. The director's job is managing the different phases in a film's production - preproduction script development etc, the production phase of shooting, camera, lighting, sound crews etc., and post production of picture and sound editing etc., all under intense budget and time pressures.
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By Jurgen Wolff on 25 April 2010
Format: Paperback
Length: 1:10 Mins
A sixty-second review of some of the key points, by Jurgen Wolff, author of "Focus: use the power of targeted thinking to get more done" (Pearson).Focus: Use the Power of Targeted Thinking to Get More Done
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Any one article worth far more than the cost of the book 11 April 2005
By Robert Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is one in a series of several dozen volumes which comprise the "Harvard Business Review Paperback Series." Each offers direct, convenient, and inexpensive access to the best thinking on the given subject in articles originally published by the Harvard Business School Review. I strongly recommend all of the volumes in the series. The individual titles are listed at this Web site: [...] The authors of various articles are among the world's most highly regarding experts on the given subject. Each volume has been carefully edited. Supplementary commentaries are also provided in most of the volumes, as is an "About the Contributors" section which usually includes suggestions of other sources which some readers may wish to explore. In this volume, the reader is provided with eight articles. Here is a selection of brief excerpts from the executive summaries with precede each of three:

"....managers need to understand that creativity has three parts: expertise, the ability to think flexibly and imaginatively, and motivation. Managers can influence the first two, but doing so is costly and slow. It would be far more effective to increase employees' intrinsic motivation....To that end, managers have five levers to pull: the amount of challenge they give employees, the degree of freedom they grant around process, the way they design work groups, the level of encouragement they give, and the nature of the organizational support." (Introducing Teresa M. Amabile's "How to Kill Creativity")

"Some innovations spring from a flash of genius [but] most result from a conscious, purposeful search for opportunities. For managers seeking innovation, engaging in disciplined work is more important than having an entrepreneurial personality....[According to Drucker, the major sources of opportunities include] unexpected occurrences, incongruities of various kinds, process needs, or changes in an industry or market,...demographic changes, changes in perception, or new knowledge." (Introducing Peter F. Drucker's "The Discipline of Innovation")

"[Having studied more than 30 of the largest international corporations, Kim and Mauborgne found that]....the difference between the high growth companies and their less successful competitors was in each group's assumptions about strategy....Managers of the high-growth companies followed what [Kim and Mauborgne] call the logic of value innovation....Many companies let competitors set the parameters of of their strategic thinking; value innovators do not use rivals as benchmarks. Rather than focus on the differences among customers, value innovators look for what customers value in common. Rather than view opportunities through the lens of existing assets and capabilities, value innovators ask, What if we start anew?" (Introducing W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne's "Value Innovation: The Strategic Logic of High Growth")

In the other five articles, Dorothy Leonard and Jeffrey F. Rayport explain how to spark innovation through what they call "empathetic design"; Leonard and Susaan Straus explain how to "put your company's whole brain to work"; Eileen Morley and Andrew Silver propose taking what they call "a film director's approach" to managing creativity; in a case study, Suzy Wetlaufer examines what is stifling creativity at CoolBurst, a fictitious Miami-based fruit juice company; and Richard K. Lester, Michael J. Piore, and Kamal M. Malek introduce their concept of "interpretative management," explaining what general managers can learn from design.

Granted, because several of these articles were published years ago, some of the material in this volume is understandably somewhat dated but the core concepts are solid and remain relevant to all organizations, regardless of size or nature. Those who share my high regard for this volume are urged to check out others in the "Harvard Business Review Paperback Series." Also, Michael Michalko's Cracking Creativity, Doug Hall's Jump Start Your Business Brain, and Tom Kelley's The Art of Innovation as well as Barry J. Nalebuff and Ian Ayres's Why Not?
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
An assortment of articles 8 Feb. 2003
By Gautam Ghosh - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This collection of HBR articles on creativity, organization and 'out-of-the-box' stuff is packaged as the HBR on Breakthrough Thinking. Hence, if you are in an exploratory mood to read up various viewpoints of organizational creativity then do pick up this book. But if, you are working in an organization, and what to know what to do to take it through the whole end-to-end innovation journey then this book is only an appetizer. You'll have to catch someone else to serve you the meal.
The book has articles like:
How to kill creativity: The list of no-nos to avoid getting stuck in a rut.
Putting your company's whole brain to work: Looking at the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) of people working together.
An interesting article is "A film director's approach to managing creativity" which could have been very powerfully used. It ends up drawing lame parallels between a movie production and organizational projects and what the corporate world can learn from it.
The masterpiece is as usual, The Discipline of Innovation, by Peter Drucker, as he gives insights as to why some firms can innovate. He classifies them as firms that do process innovations, or capitalising on industry or market changes. OUtside, due to demographic , perception and knowledge changes.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Lots of Good Bits 1 Dec. 2002
By Jane Wattersin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have been looking for a book to help me rethink the way I work and this one was recommended by a friend. I bought it and enjoyed especially several of the essays- the one on how movie makers work and think was really good.
Overall this is full of good examples of existing practice. But you need to work with the case studies to see how they might apply.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Read this book if your sales or profits are in decline 7 Jun. 2004
By DAVID-LEONARD WILLIS - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Creativity and innovation are the keys to competitive advantage in the knowledge economy and this book is a collection of eight HBR articles on how to organize for innovation. Many companies unintentionally crush employee's intrinsic motivation in pursuit of productivity, efficiency and control, but creativity requires expertise, motivation and the ability to think flexibly and imaginatively. Key factors are challenge, freedom, the design of the work group, encouragement, and organizational support but with careful planning it is possible to create an organization in which business imperatives are attended to and creativity flourishes. As innovation takes place through creative abrasion, care must be taken to prevent players with different worldviews and thinking styles having personal disputes. Managers often prefer like-thinking staff, neglecting a dynamic set of individuals whose counter culture thinking patterns are considered disruptive. A mix of right- and left-brain individuals is required to develop new approaches to the business.
There are many lessons to be learned from a film unit where talented people band together for a short time; success depends on getting the right personnel, enabling them to work well together, motivating them to peak performance, leading them to create on schedule, and handling the stresses that arise. The director's job is managing the different phases in a film's production - preproduction script development etc, the production phase of shooting, camera, lighting, sound crews etc., and post production of picture and sound editing etc., all under intense budget and time pressures. Many managers in business and industry follow the film directors' approach intuitively but it is rarer for a manager to relate to different people in different ways or to the same people in different ways at different times.
CoolBurst is a fictitious case study of a soft drinks company that had ruled the market but where revenues and profits had stagnated. The company's most creative employee had joined the largest competitor while many new companies were joining the competitive fray with each one coming from a different angle. The one remaining creative person, the marketing director, got a lot done but his work style of going to the movies during work hours did not fit the company culture and adversely affected others. He had warned everyone that past success was due to being in the right place at the right time and that the bubble would burst; CoolBurst had to create a new vision of the brand and innovate or evaporate. CoolBurst had to make itself a more welcoming, nurturing place for creative individuals, encourage employees to take more risks and change the culture of command, compartmentalization and control. Leadership that envisions, empowers and energizes is required. Five experts put forward their views of the best way out of the dilemma.
Peter Drucker points out that opportunities for innovation can be found in unexpected occurrences, incongruities, process needs, changes in an industry or market, demographics, changes in perception, and new knowledge. These seven sources overlap and the potential for innovation may lie in more than one area at a time. Innovation requires talent, ingenuity, knowledge, diligence, persistence, commitment and demands that managers look beyond established practices. Demographics and an education explosion clearly identified a forthcoming shortage of blue-collar workers but only the Japanese acted on it and stole a 10-year lead in robotics. Despite an unprecedented improvement in Americans' health, perceptions were different, creating a huge market for health care products and exercise equipment. Purposeful, systematic innovation is work rather than genius, beginning with the analysis of the source of new opportunities followed by field work to look, ask and listen, using both left and right sides of the brain.
The past two decades have seen a dramatic acceleration in the pace of change in the market place requiring companies to abandon old hierarchical models and managers to adapt to unstable and unpredictable markets in which it may be difficult to define the problem let alone engineer a solution. The analytical approach is giving way to the interpretive approach in companies like Levi Strauss and Chiron that have stayed at the top of an industry where the customer does not know what he wants or needs. What is fashionable emerges during conversations between designers, buyers, customers, manufacturers, and fashion writers. There is no beginning and no end; what is fashionable has no final answer and the answer keeps changing. Levi divides the market into age segments and assigns a designer to each segment. Each designer is encouraged to become immersed in that segment's culture by living the life of its members, shopping at their stores, eating in their restaurants, dancing in their clubs, listening to their radio stations, and reading their magazines - all in an effort to spot new trends. Interpretive management constantly questions the boundaries of the company's core competency and demands a whole new way of thinking about the work of the business executive.
Managers of less successful companies follow conventional strategic logic while managers of high growth companies follow what Kim and Mauborgne of INSEAD call the Logic of Value Innovation. Instead of battling competitors over shrinking cinema attendance in Belgium, Bert Claeys created Kinepolis in 1998 and made the competition irrelevant by offering a greatly improved experience. Neither an ordinary cinema nor a multiplex, Kinepolis is the world's first megaplex which won 50% of the Brussels market in its first year and expanded the market by about 40%. Today many Belgians refer not to a night at the movies but to an evening at Kinepolis. The five dimensions of Value Innovation Logic say that:
- an industry's conditions can be shaped and are not given
- competition is not the benchmark
- focus on what customers value
- what would we do if starting anew?
- think in terms of the total solution sought by the customer

Any manager who sees sales or profits stabilizing or going into decline would be wise to read this book.
Great Introduction to Innovative Thinking 14 Sept. 2012
By bronx book nerd - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a short gem of a book. It covers in concise and too the point articles the challenge of innovating in business. Authors include a couple of the usual stars - Teresa Amabile and Peter Drucker. Articles cover topics like what kills innovation, what nurtures it, what external factors affect it, etc. I found particularly interesting the article on "empathic design", which urges innovators to go out and observe customers using their products. Often, customers take product deficiencies for granted, or use a product in ways not envisioned by the manufacturer. These situations are potential gold mines for ideas on how to meet unexpressed need or market the product for the unanticipated uses. Amabile's and Drucker's articles are unsurprisingly significant, as the former shares her expertise on what supports business innovation, and the latter shares his wisdom on the impact on innovation from things like unexpected occurrences and incongruities. This book is a valuable guide for managers seeking to find ways to innovate.
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