Coolfarming: Turn Your Great Idea into the Next Big Thingby Peter Gloor
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a business leader, what you want most is to be at the head of the pack with the latest, hottest consumer enthusiasm: a product or service that comes across as brilliant, original, and hip; the kind of thing that not only seems cool in and of itself, but makes the lucky consumer
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Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a business leader, what you want most is to be at the head of the pack with the latest, hottest consumer enthusiasm: a product or service that comes across as brilliant, original, and hip; the kind of thing that not only seems cool in and of itself, but makes the lucky consumer who uses it feel cool.
“Coolhunting” refers to the process of seeking out and finding the latest trends. Now Coolfarming shows you how to dig deeper and become a part of the initial development phase of what will be the next hot phenomenon, converting creative dreams into cool products by enlisting the help of dedicated and passionate collaborators. You’ll learn how to nurture your own Collaborative Innovation Network (COIN), a group of intrinsically motivated people assembled around a common vision.
COINs are not new. They have long been found swarming around the genesis of new ideas. An earlier example of a successful COIN was Menlo Park, the research lab where Thomas Edison assembled other creative geniuses responsible for “hot new ideas” such as air conditioning and the light bulb. The rapidly expanding uses of social networking and Google’s exponential, innovation-driven growth are other, more current examples.
In Coolfarming, you’ll discover how to grow your own trends by creating an environment where COINs flourish; then—once a product has become established—extend the creative pool into a Collaborative Learning Network, or CLN, whereby a targeted group of interested people are brought in to learn the basics of the product, make suggestions for improvements, point out deficiencies, and push the idea forward.
When this feedback gets incorporated, things get really interesting, expanding the process further outward to a Collaborative Interest Network (CIN) that encompasses thousands or even millions of users, building what hopefully turns into a loyal fan base…and virtually guaranteeing the success of the idea.
Featuring real-life examples from Linux to the Twilight series, from Procter & Gamble to Apple, Coolfarming lets you in on the practical, step-by-step processes that will allow you to successfully cultivate the kind of swarm creativity that generates hot new trends. . .and then push them over the tipping point to commercial success.
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Read an Excerpt
How Do You Turn a
Cool Idea into a Trend?
As special as Steve is, I think of Apple as a great jazz orchestra. Steve did a superb job of
recruiting a broad and deep talent base. When a group gets to be that size, the conductor’s
job is pretty nominal—mainly attracting new talent and helping maintain the tempo,
adding bits of energy here and there.1
—Michael Hawley, professional pianist/computer scientist/former Apple employee
WHY IS IT that Apple products are cool? Why is Steve Jobs cool?
What if you could become cool, too? And what if you could make
your own ideas cool? What if you could even turn them into the next
The good news is, there are indeed steps you can take to be cool,
and to convert your ideas into a cool trend. This book addresses
the basic questions of what the magic of cool is. It shows you how
to “coolfarm” your ideas, how to make trends cool, and how to
become cool yourself. Coolfarming tells how to convert creative
dreams into cool products by enlisting the help of dedicated and
passionate collaborators. Coolfarming is about how to get the “next
big idea” off the ground.
So what is it that makes things cool? Cool things have four
1. Cool things need to be fresh and new.We don’t want yesterday’s
stale old ideas, but radically new and better ones. Apple is cool,
Microsoft is not. Why? Apple has a unique knack for repeatedly coming
up with beautiful new product concepts and designs that usher in
new markets, first in computers with the Macintosh, then in digital
music players with the iPod, and then in mobile phones with the
iPhone. Microsoft has grown bigger in size and may be more profitable
with its copycat strategy, but nobody has ever accused it of
being cool—that’s reserved for creators of radically new things.
Microsoft’s technology does the job, but it’s clunky, arcane, and
clogged with features that nobody wants. Apple, on the other hand,
has consistently defined new markets with superbly designed, innovative
2. Cool things make us part of a community. They help us be with
people like us. As psychologists and sociologists have found out, if
given the chance, we want to be with as many people “like us” as possible—
the more the merrier. Why did two million people trek to
Washington’s National Mall for the inauguration of President Barack
Obama? Why did they stand in line for eight hours to personally
attend Obama’s swearing in and not just watch it on TV? Simple
answer: It was the chance to be part of something cool and new, to
witness change, jointly, with two million other like-minded souls.
Even something as simple as owning the latest iPhone or BlackBerry
makes the owner part of a community, a sister and brotherhood, with
the token of entry being the coolest of handsets.
3. Cool things are fun. Just owning an iPhone is fun, if only
because it is so well designed and looks so cool. Making calls and surfing
the Web on an iPhone is fun; playing music on an iPod is fun.
Going to a musical on Broadway is fun and relaxing. Drinking coffee
in Starbucks is fun, too, not the least because every Starbucks customer
is in good company with other people who are also enjoying a
good cup of coffee in a relaxing atmosphere. It’s not for nothing that
Starbucks carefully selects and trains its baristas to provide a superior
4. Finally, cool things give meaning to our life. Cool things make
people feel good and happier. Owning a cool thing can become a goal
all by itself, whether it is the new iPhone, the designer bag from
Adidas, or the car we always wanted. Of course, owning a cool thing
could also mean joining an activist group to fight global warming. For
many people the thing that gives meaning to their lives is making the
world a better place—the ultimate in cool.
Cool trends can only be created through the creativity of swarms.
My previous two books, Swarm Creativity (Oxford University Press,
2006) and Coolhunting (AMACOM, 2007), introduced the idea of
Collaborative Innovation Networks (COINs) and explained how to
coolhunt. Coolhunting is the art and skill of chasing down cool trends
by spotting the trendsetters collaborating in COINs. This book
makes the bold leap to “coolfarming,” explaining the steps that anybody
can take to make cool trends happen. Obviously COINs cannot
be mandated into action, and inventions cannot, by sheer force of
will, be turned into new trends. Nevertheless, there are steps that the
creator of a new idea or the enthusiastic very early adopter of a concept
can take to increase the odds of turning the cool new thing into,
indeed, a new trend.
The Four Steps of Coolfarming
This swarm-based innovation process happens in four steps:
STEP 1 The creator comes up with the cool idea.
STEP 2 The creator recruits additional members to form a
Collaborative Innovation Network (COIN).
STEP 3 The COIN grows into a Collaborative Learning
Network (CLN) by adding friends and family.
STEP 4 Outsiders join, forming a Collaborative Interest
These four steps establish the most efficient engine of innovation,
creating the innovations that continuously change our lives.
This book is written for creators and COIN members. If you are
looking for practical hands-on advice on how to carry your cool
ideas over the tipping point, converting them into real trends, this
book is for you.
Meet the Author
PETER GLOOR, the coauthor of Coolhunting, has enjoyed a 20-year career as an executive for UBS, PwC, and Deloitte. He divides his time between the MIT Sloan School of Management, Aalto University (Helsinki) and the University of Cologne, and his growing startup company, galaxyadvisors.
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