Customer Reviews for

Beyond the Obvious: Killer Questions That Spark Game-Changing Innovation

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  • Posted February 28, 2012

    5 stars and 23 post-it notes

    A few years ago, I worked briefly with Phil McKinney as an advisor to a non-profit where he was a Board member. Based on that experience I was looking forward to this book, but I was really not prepared for my reaction.

    The concept of the book is deceptively simple – ask a set of killer questions and follow a repeatable process for ranking your answers to get more and better innovation along three key dimensions. At this stage in my career, I was skeptical that I’d have a lot of takeaways but I knew that Phil’s style would make it an interesting read. It turned out to be so much more.

    After a first reading, my copy of the book had 23 post-it notes sticking out of the top and side, representing 23 ideas I want to capture in a summary/reference document that I’ll use when re-writing my current business plan. Check it out yourself and see where it leads you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 10, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    You can be as creative as Pablo Picasso or as innovative as Stev

    You can be as creative as Pablo Picasso or as innovative as Steve Jobs – or close – no matter who you are. Just follow the practical new-ideas system developed by “Innovation Guru” Phil McKinney, formerly a chief technology officer at Hewlett-Packard. His step-by-step innovation guidelines help you out-innovate your competitors, and develop new products and services. getAbstract finds his methods helpful for those competing in today’s “creative economy,” where great ideas are the hottest currency.

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  • Posted May 13, 2012

    I am a fellow high tech innovation explorer having spent 15 year

    I am a fellow high tech innovation explorer having spent 15 years at Xerox PARC including managing the Xerox Express Team which experimented with customer co-innovation using cutting edge technologies. I have worked twelve years at HP Labs and in the last few years worked with Phil McKinney’s group in HP’s Personal Systems Group. The project that I am pursuing today was sponsored by Phil and benefits from his experiences as we tried to coax Immersive 3D out of the lab and into the market while fighting the HP antibodies. (You can do an on-line search using my name and 3D to learn more.)

    As a fellow explorer, I greatly value this book and am doing a second reading of selected portions right now. This is NOT a cookbook, nor does it serve as Pixie dust that can magically transform an organization into an innovation engine. However, for those who are exploring new areas, especially with or in corporations, this can be invaluable both from the experiences he relates and also the method for looking at the opportunities and issues that are bound to be unique for each organization. This is not a map, this a log of way signs, lists of techniques that have worked, and some frameworks for trying to coax innovation’s fire. It should be read by managers and technical experts alike.

    Corporate Antibodies are very real, but as the book points out, actually part of a healthy response to protect the company. I have seen all four types that are enumerated and the book gives great advice on how to get your head around these responses. I feel that that chapter alone should be mandatory reading for every researcher and engineer who is involved in innovation.

    The book uses a series of Killer Questions to help you figure out how to stoke the fire of innovation. I advise that you should review all of your ideas against these questions on an on-going basis to validate your concepts and to free your mind to allow you to move your idea into new areas which might be both of higher value and even easier. This list of questions is not exhaustive and he shows how you can amend them to fit your situation. In the later chapter, he walks you through how Kroger modified the system to meet their needs. This is the type of examples that push this book to the next level.

    If the ideas feel strange at first, then go through this book a couple of times in parts. As Phil points out, businesses are not comfortable with change and actually shun change in favor of predictable and safe. Innovation is considered unpredictable and risky. It is hard for us to see beyond how we do business today with today’s customers. At HP, we often find that we restrict our meetings to specific customer departments and need to reevaluate with whom to have a New Product discussion. The book shows you how a successful explorer finds the stepping stones and plans how to traverse the dangerous territory of innovation. A successful trip can not be fully planned in advance, the journey is dynamic and you need to adjust to attain the goal.

    Don’t just read the book, study it and re-read parts as you do your project. Your situation will be different, don’t assume you can word for word apply it, adapt it.

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