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Create in a Flash: A book review by Bob Morris

Create in a Flash: A Leader’s Recipe for Breakthrough Innovation
Roger Firestien
Green Tractor Publishing (October 2019)

Practical advice on how to achieve high-impact results with breakthrough innovation

Whatever their size and nature may be, all organizations need effective leadership at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. Roger Firestien offers what he characterizes as a “recipe” that can help prepare them to achieve breakthrough innovation. It is important to keep in mind that all the most creative thinkers are members of a team and many headed their team. They include Vannevar Bush (U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development), Walt Disney, Thomas Edison, Kelly Johnson (Lockheed’s “Skunk Works”), Jack Goldman and George Pake (Xerox PARC), and Thomas Vail and then Marcus Weldon (Bell Laboratories).

According to Firestien, he had three separate but interdependent objectives when creating this book:

o Help his reader to identify the real problem to be solved rather than waste time and money solving the wrong problem
o Consistently create ideas, making their business recession-proof and competition-proof
o Grow their business by solving the tough problems that are holding it back

In order to be deliberately creative, Firestien suggests, you need to be able to think in three ways:

1. Divergent thinking: Explore lots of possibilities, generate lots of ideas
2. Combinent thinking: Combine ideas from many different sources
3. Convergent thinking: Evaluate all ideas and select those with greatest potential

You also need a simple, repeatable way to take on new challenges and develop innovative solutions that result in productive change. “Enter Creative Problem-Solving (CPS)…a recipe for deliberate creativity.” More specifically, these are the steps to take, accompanied by comments of mine:

Step 1: Clarify the Problem
Comment: But only after you identify the right problem to be solved

Step 2: Generate Ideas
Comment: To repeat, LOTS of possible solutions from LOTS of different sources

Step 3: Develop Solutions
Comment: Focus on degree of difficulty, probable implications and consequences, and direct relevance to your organization’s strategic objectives

Step 4: Plan for Action
Comment: Identify primary tasks, division of labor, sequence, likely contingencies

I was especially interested, also, in what Roger Firestien shares when reflecting back on his “40 years in creativity,” ten lessons that can be of substantial value to almost any executive in almost any organization. They range from “Invest in your core principles for the sake of your employees, your product and your customers” to “Practice. Practice. Practice.” All of them are discussed on Pages 134-135.

I highly recommend this book as well as Arthur I. Miller’s The Artist in the Machine: The World of AI-Powered Creativity.

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