The Idea Hunter: A book review by Bob Morris

The Idea Hunter: How to Find the Best Ideas and Make Them Happen
Andy Boynton and Bill Fischer, with William Bole
Jossey-Bass/John A Wiley Imprint

The best ideas are out there…or inside you…just waiting for you to find them.

The premise of the book is this: There are valuable lessons to be learned from those who have highly-developed skills that enable them to “find the best ideas and make them happen.” Better yet, these are skills that almost anyone else can develop in combination with (a) an insatiable curiosity to understand what works, what doesn’t, and why; (b) an eagerness to communicate, cooperate, and – most important of all – collaborate/co-create with others; and (c) determination to sustain the “hunt” (Thomas Edison’s term for his search for solutions) despite whatever resistance, ridicule, and setbacks that may be encountered. With assistance from William Bole, Andy Boyton and Bill Fischer explain in this book what they The DeepDive(tm), a combination of brainstorming, prototyping and feedback loops merged into an approach they devised that executives can use with teams to help develop solutions for specific business challenges.

The focus of the book is on a process called I.D.E.A. whose foundation consists of four principles: Interested (i.e. insatiable curiosity), Diverse (i.e. locating or generating as many different ideas as possible from as many different sources as possible), Exercised (e.g. constant, relentless, sharply-focused observation of mental, emotional, and intuitive activity as well as whatever the senses experience in the physical world), and finally, Agile (i.e. developing cognitive and analytical skills that are razor-sharp, flexible, and resilient). Actually, every one in an organization (including, especially, C-level executives) should continuously strengthen the skills each of these principles requires because all organizations need

Idea Hunters (with in satiable curiosity)
Idea Finders (who recognize possibilities no one else does)
Idea Evaluators (who have high-standards and are baggage-free)
Idea Marketers (to create demand, both internally and externally)
Idea Refiners (who understand that improvement is an on-going process, a journey rather than a destination)

Note: I presume to suggest that when a “Best Ideas” team is formed, that its members possess cross-functional talents (essential to evangelism during barrier removal) and that the model be appropriate to the given organization’s needs, interests, resources, and goals; also, that formulation of the model be based on this book as well as on what Pixar and IDEO do and how they do it. Caveat: Adapt rather than adopt best practices.

Boynton and Fischer brilliantly explain which habits are most important during the “hunt” (Pages 90-94), what “Idea Flow” is and does as well as how to sustain it (101-119), and how to create great conversations (129-141). I was especially interested in their insertion of four sets of “IdeaWork” observations and recommendations. The first: Selling [actually Setting Aside] the Best Hour of the Day at [for] Yourself” (39-43), #2: “The I’s and the T’s” (65-68), “Assembling an Idea Portfolio” (91-97), #3: “Assembling an Idea Portfolio” (91-97), and #4: “Ready-Set, Launch” (121-127). Value-added benefits are plentiful. For example, Boynton and Fischer include a “Self Assessment” (1`46-150 that, all by itself, is worth far more than the cost of the book. Also an outstanding “References” section comprised of the books, articles, and online resources they recommend.

In addition to the books that Andy Boynton and Bill Fischer recommend, I presume to add two by Tom Kelley (The Art of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation) as well as two more recently published books, David Kord Murray’s Borrowing Brilliance and Josh Linkner’s Disciplined Dreaming.

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