My friend and fellow LDRLB contributor Soren Kaplan’s new book Leapfrogging: Harness the Power of Surprise for Business Breakthroughs his the shelves today. If you’ll indulge my obvious bias, I’d like to present my formal review and explain why I believe this book is so important.
Leapfrogging starts with a simple idea: that the biggest innovations come as a surprise. I’ve always held this belief, perhaps best summarizes by Isaac Asimov, “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka’ but ‘That’s funny…’” When an innovative idea is generated, it surprises even its creator. When the idea becomes a product or service, it’s a pleasant surprise to the consumer. The challenge with surprises, of course, is that they are by definition unexpected – they require uncertainty – which most businesses are designed to reduce. Soren’s goal in Leapfrogging is to convince and equip leaders to do the reverse of their formal training – to embrace surprises and unleash innovation.
Soren uses a variety of methods to build his case, from new research to powerful case studies of companies who embraced a particular surprise, captured it and let it lose on a market in need of innovation. For those who’d rather paint by numbers even on the issue of uncertainty, Soren even breaks this process down into a series of steps called LEAPS (Listen, Explore, Act, Persist, and Seize) to help leaders scan for ideas and respond to surprising events.
The process of innovation is inherently messy and filled with uncertainty. Most innovations books offer impossible solutions in the service of structured methods. Soren takes the opposite, and only defensible, approach in teaching leaders how to embrace surprises and leapfrog their competition.
|David Burkus is the editor of LDRLB. He writes, speaks, and serves on the faculty of management at Oral Roberts University’s College of Business.|