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Kill the Company: End the Status Quo, Start an Innovation Revolution has been named by global consulting leader Booz&Co as one of the Best Business Books of 2012.
Written by futurethink as CEO, Lisa Bodell, the book offers straightforward, practical tools to transform company cultures and make innovation happen. Thought leaders such as Seth Godin, Tony Hsieh, and Marshall Goldsmith have praised Kill the Company for guiding organizations toward revolutionary change through simplifying and eliminating complexity and complacency.
Awaken your ability to think, innovate, and grow. Get Kill the Company today!
I am convinced that revolutionary leaders bent on innovation will take over the universe. With the status quo in just about every industry sucking wind, there is a new book out there that is kicking in teeth and helping business leaders – and marketers – take it to the next level.
Recently, I wrote in the Harvard Business Review digital edition a piece entitled “Marketing in Revolutionary Times.” I asked “how does a smart business respond in a time of heightened passions and greater activism?” And suggested that you run the risk of being out of step with your customers, if you fail to respond to this shift in the culture, with your company looking like a status quo brand in a revolutionary world.
Let’s talk innovation. Let’s talk colliding worlds – business leadership + marketing. It’s happening in the C-Suite, and it’s the topic of discussion in boardrooms and on the golf course. Last week, I picked up and read Lisa Bodell’s wonderful and inspiring new book entitled “Kill The Company”. This book rocked my world. The content is more about leadership than marketing overall, but several themes pop and nicely align with the thinking above.
It’s not hyperbole to suggest that “Kill The Company: End the Status Quo, Start an Innovation Revolution?” is changing the thinking of business leadership and is creating leaders wanting to drive marketing innovation. Well, you would, wouldn’t you?
Read the entire article on Forbes here.
As the CEO of a corporate innovation training firm, I’ve discovered an art and science to asking the right questions. But the right questions—the ones that challenge assumptions and expand our thinking—are often the most uncomfortable. Over the past twenty years, I’ve often worked with company leaders who are so focused on getting the right answer that they forget how to ask the right question. But unless we ask new questions, we won’t find new answers.
When presenting a situation to a group in our client-training sessions, we generally ask “what’s the solution to fix this?” People are immediately compelled to offer suggestions, but very few actually inquire about the problem itself. The reason? We’ve been taught all of our lives to answer questions and generate results, but have barely even been given the time and permission to examine WHY. Overcoming this obstacle is essential to uncovering the difficult questions—and finding innovative solutions.
One way to cut through the clutter is with an exercise called Killer Queries. The purpose of this innovation tool is to confront our fears, learn ways to reach the root cause of issues, and take a hard look at how to successfully move forward. It enables us to reveal candid information, uncover problems we can fix, and discover competitive opportunities we didn’t know we had.
The ability to ask smart questions—what we refer to as provocative inquiry—takes practice. Imagine if you could have a one-on-one conversation with one person to improve your business or overcome a pressing problem. Who would it be? Avoid the usual suspects and instead consider an unlikely audience, such as a competitor, a child, or someone in your industry who works in a different country. What would you ask? Try to skip obvious questions—the ones you’ve already asked your boss or customers—and dive deeper.
When teaching clients how to generate game-changing questions, we identify the telltale phrasing of open-ended vs. closed-ended questions. Closed questions—“did you finish the project on time?”—typically prompt a “yes” or “no” answer without providing detail or exposing root causes. Open-ended questions—“what are some other ways for us to complete this project?”—are an opportunity to explore and learn. Phrases like “why” and “what else/how else” and “what would” will spark explanations, ideas, and in many instances, imagination.
For example, if the goal is to evolve an existing product or service, ask: what two things could your competitors do that would render your product/service irrelevant? Or, what do you hate most about your current product’s functionality? And how much time would be needed to improve it?
If you are considering a new pricing model, a relevant question could be what it would take to sell your product at half the price? And how would your competitors respond? Or, what can you offer for free that no one else does?
Maybe you’re facing the need to change an internal process. Ask what’s the worst that could happen? And what if you’re wrong? Or, if you could hire five more people, what skills would they possess? And why?
The key to uncovering big answers requires practice and proven tactics for overcoming fear and apathy. It’s about phrasing the right questions to the right people. It means seeking an audience with someone you wouldn’t normally approach. In your next meeting, think about the questions you really want to ask and use open-ended phrasing to encourage feedback. And if your question makes the rest of the room uncomfortable, you’re definitely on the right track.
Like many of you, I’m preparing for my annual trip to Austin for SXSW. In addition to delivering a session on my forthcoming book, Kill the Company, this year’s conference is packed with innovative topics from the nation’s most future-thinking minds. After evaluating the 2012 schedule of events, we’ve created this guide of 10 must-see panels for innovators. See you in Texas!
Similar to the concept of little BIGS in Kill the Company, author Todd Henry advocates making small changes in a few key areas to increase opportunities of generating brilliant ideas. By addressing the dynamics (and assassins) of workplace creativity, and the five key practices for creatives, this session offers a new formula for maintaining creativity in life and work. #sxsw #creative
Among the innovation giants, MIT doesn’t disappoint. This year’s Media Lab presentation revolves around making connections, and attendees (along with their smart phones) will play active roles in the experiment. Through games, art, research, and general silliness, the boundaries between participation, application, and reaction will blend into a multi-connectional experience. #sxsw #medialab
Design innovation has a rich history—Jane Jacobs, anyone?—of social application. Today, a movement is underway to solve complex social problems through design applications. This session panel will feature leaders in the public interest design movement who use design thinking to address global challenges and engender social innovation. #sxsw #designgood
From the office to the lab, vast amounts of data are produced every day. How can we make sense of it all? Visualization techniques and data-analysis tools from this panel of scientific researchers and scholars are geared toward enabling us to think differently amid the algorithms. #sxsw #dataviz
5. Storytelling Beyond Words: New Forms of Journalism Sunday, March 11th, 9:30AM – 10:30AM, Presenters: Aron Pilhofer, Bill Adair, Jim Brady, Stephen Buckley
In futurethink’s seminars and workshops, storytelling plays a vital role in transforming professional skeptics into champions of change. During this session, prominent journalists and researchers will offer a glimpse of journalism’s future with digital tools that reinvent storytelling to delight and provoke audiences, and illustrate complex issues. #sxsw #stories
From social media to e-books, it’s a brave new world for the publishing industry. This session will explore best practices for authors and publishers, including how to leverage marketing platforms and build meaningful relationships with media via the social Web. #sxsw #NewWorld
The influences of mentorship and education on workplace culture are frequent topics of discussion at futurethink headquarters. This highly anticipated session examines the effect of these elements on entrepreneurship—as well as the role that events, spaces, accelerators, VC, angels, universities, and government play in successful startup communities. #sxsw #BEComm
8. Austin 2032: Shaping Future Cities with Mobile Data Sunday, March 11th, 5PM – 6PM, Presenters: Alexander Howard, Chris Volinsky, Chris Osgood, Eric Paulos
Mobile innovation in existing and emerging markets has become one of tech’s most exciting categories. And the study of mobile data—user location, orientation, and trajectories—allows insight into human behavior that can increase understanding of society. This panel will discuss the promise, implications, and privacy concerns of analyzing mobile device data on a massive scale, specifically toward improving the cities of the future. #sxsw #cityfuture
Blue-sky keynotes are among my conference favorites. This year, visionary and futurist Ray Kurzweil—whom Forbes Magazine has called “the ultimate thinking machine”—will join writer Lev Grossman of TIME Magazine for a mind-expanding conversation about our future. #sxsw #IQExpand
No one disputes that how we work is changing. Yet where we work isn’t. The options are weirdly outdated—office, home, or café—and each of these places come with challenges. Be transported by this panel of experts into the future of work, as they walk attendees through their vision of the ideal work experience. #sxsw #SWork