Create the Future: A book review by Bob Morris

Create the Future: Tactics for Disruptive Thinking
Jeremy Gutsche
Fast Company Press (March 2020)

“The future is already here — It’s just not very evenly distributed.” William GIbson

This volume serves as Part 1 of the operations manual for Jeremy Gutsche’s “Create the Future” project. His focus  on battle-tested methods as well as tactics for disruptive thinking that can create the future. More specifically, he provides lessons learned from more than 10,000 innovation workshops and custom futurism projects. “My team has encountered almost every type of innovation problem. We perfected the [Create the Future] framework with our clients to create the ultimate guide, making innovation and change happen.”

These are among the subjects and issues Gutsche addresses:

o Why and how the ability to change is limited by what Warren Buffett characterized as habits that are “too light to notice until they are too heavy to break,” by what Jim O’Toole characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyrannt if custom”

o Why a culture of innovation is more imprtant than strategy. In fact, Peter Drucker once said that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” A company is only as resilient as its culture and a culture is only as resilient as those who comprise it.

o Opportunity hunters are at least as valuable as problem finders and even problem solvers. They identify trends in the given marketplace. Gutsche provides frameworks in this book that will enable organizations to “filter through chaos and identify clusters of opportunity to focus on innovation.”

o Valuable lessons can be learned from companies that have come close to perfecting creativity. “By applying the best of their proven practices in your own field, you can think big while acting small [as Sun Tzu suggests in Art of War]. You can rapidly create new opportunities.”

o Gutsche also has much of value to say about “infectious messaging” by using well-packaged stories that can now travel much faster than ever before. “By cultivating infection, your ideas will resonate, helping you to leap ahead of the competition.” This is precisely what Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell have in mind when explaining how to create “customer evangelists.” The same strategy can also help to create “employee evangelists.”

These are some of the tactics for disruptive thinking that Gutsche discusses on Pages 70-71: force collisions, give permission, fuel audacity, escape your routine, ignite passion, be different, push limits, exchange perspectives, and consciously make decisions that open up options.

“After 10,000 years of farming, we repeat whatever led to last year’s harvest.”

I agree with Gutsche that disruptive thinking requires “farmers” who are loyal, consistent, and disciplined in productive collaboration with “hunters” who are curious, insatiable, and willing to destroy. Organizations need both.

Credit Jeremy Gutsche with his generous provision of information, insights, and counsel that can help almost anyone in any organization (whatever its size and nature may be) to create a future rather tphan await its arrival. And let’s not forget this observation by William Gibson: “The future is already here — It’s just not very evenly distributed.”

I strongly recommend that Create the Future (Part 1) be read and then re-read before The Innovation Handbook (Part 2), the second half of this volume. I also highly recommend having a lined notebook near at hand in which to record your comments, questions, cross-references, etc.

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