The Killer Questions Your Company Should Be Asking Generating and executing great ideas is the key to staying ahead in a rapidly changing world. It seems so basic. Why is it so hard to actually get right? According to innovation expert Phil McKinney, the real problem is that we're teaching people to ask the wrong questions about their businessesor none at all. There has to be a better way. In Beyond the Obvious, McKinney will help you use his proven FIRE (Focus, Ideation, Rank, Execution) Method to dig deeper and get back to asking the right questionsthe ones all companies must ask to survive. Full of real-world examples, this book will change the way you operate, innovate, and create, and it all begins with battle-tested questions Phil has gathered on note cards throughout his career. Shared for the first time here, these "Killer Questions" include:
- What are the rules and assumptions my industry operates under? What if the opposite were true?
- What will be the buying criteria used by my customer in 5 years?
- What are my unshakable beliefs about what my customers want?
- Who uses my product in ways I never anticipated?
Geoffrey Moore, author of Crossing the Chasm and Escape Velocity "I've always believed that asking the right questions is the essence of design. Phil McKinney proves that point with this wonderful set of killer questions that will jumpstart-or greatly enhance- your innovation efforts."
B. Joseph Pine II, co-author, The Experience Economy & Infinite Possibility. "Product Innovation is a prerequisite to building great brands. Phil's questions are a prerequisite to building innovative products."
Satjiv S. Chahil, former global marketing chief, Apple
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About the Author
Phil McKinney is the vice president and chief technology officer for Hewlett-Packard's (HP) Personal Systems Group, where he is responsible for long-range strategic planning and research and development for all of the company's PC product lines, including displays, mobile devices, notebooks, desktops, and workstations. Over the course of his career, he has been profiled or had his work on innovation written about in media outlets ranging from tech press to Vanity Fair, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. McKinney also writes a column for Forbes called "The Objective," hosts a popular "Killer Innovations" podcast that CIO Insight has called "a must listen," and tweets from his @philmckinney handle. He currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. This is his first book.
What People are Saying About This
An empowering new voice for business readers, Phil McKinney will change your Monday with his rule-breaking approach to harnessing the power of innovation. This book is a killer read for anyone who hopes to triumphantly succeed and not just survive."
Peter Guber, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, Tell to Win "Human beings are creatures of habit, so getting ourselves and our teams to think beyond the obvious is a challenge we face all the time. Phil McKinney is an innovation expert, and his killer questions and hit-the-spot anecdotes provide a great way to get out in front of opportunities we otherwise won't see. (Geoffrey Moore, author of Crossing the Chasm and Escape Velocity)
"An empowering new voice for business readers, Phil McKinney will change your Monday with his rule-breaking approach to harnessing the power of innovation. This book is a killer read for anyone who hopes to triumphantly succeed and not just survive."
Peter Guber, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, Tell to Win
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.