The commercial application of Greatest Hits

How Greatest Hits training can transform your business.

  • I take 15 minutes to explain what is in a book
  • We discuss the content and its implications
  • Attendees have to work out how they can apply the thinking to their business, customers, clients, or staff
  • This generates a minimum of 10 ideas per book
  • Repeat 6-10 times and you have 60-100 ideas to stimulate the business
  • Over 250 books to choose from

number of view: 0


12 2012

How To Kill A Unicorn – Mark Payne

The one-sentence summary

Innovation must build ideas at the crossroads of creativity and commerce, solving a big customer problem and a big business problem in one bold move.


  • The failure rates of most innovations are absurdly high, culminating in ‘unicorns’ – visions that are lovely to think about, but only doable and profitable in some imaginary world.
  • What is needed is a Money and Magic approach, sometimes called How and Wow. That’s where the ideas people and the commercial people work together from the off to solve both a customer and a business problem in one move.
  • What goes in to an innovation process is always dozens of initiatives competing for resources. By the midpoint, nearly all solve a customer need. But they should only be implemented if they also solve a business need for the company.
  • The moral is: don’t suspend commercial questions early in the process.
  • This two-sided thinking (customer and company need) must start from day one. The best results come at the crossroads of the two requirements.
  • Another crossroads comes at the intersection of near-term ROI, low risk tolerance, big growth goals, and tight resource constraints. Big doesn’t always mean risky, slow and expensive.
  • The aim of marketplace disruption needs to be offset by the amount of company disruption in achieving it. A high effect on the market with low company upheaval is of course the Promised Land.


  • Don’t buy into the myth that creativity is most effective when it’s unencumbered by practical imperatives.
  • Transformational questions can be powerful in opening up bigger answers. You need to assume transformation is necessary, cultivate a healthy disrespect for present reality, and temporarily forget what you know.
  • Learn to hear the thundering sound of the thing that isn’t being said.
  • A company’s incompetencies can often provide the clue to how to innovate.
  • “The details aren’t the details, they make the design.”
  • In business-to-business markets, it is usually necessary to solve several different business models at once. Many initiatives fail because they concentrate just on the end user, failing to satisfy the demands of all the intermediaries and other companies involved in the process.
  • Innovation needs tracking metrics: project success rates, in-market hit rates, and aggregate pipeline impact. Monitor all these, and you can prove that your innovations are indeed doing the right thing for the company.


  • The author is founder of the innovation company Fahrenheit 212, and in large part this reads like a company brochure.

number of view: 221


03 2015

Thinking In New Boxes – Brabandere & Iny

The one-sentence summary

If you want to think in new boxes, doubt everything, probe the possible, diverge, converge, and then re-evaluate relentlessly.


  • Thinking ‘outside the box’ isn’t the answer. True ingenuity needs structure, hard analysis, and bold brainstorming.
  • That means thinking in new boxes. A box is a mental model –a construction that exists purely within you, and which dictates how you view the world.
  • Inductive thinking involves moving from observed fragmented details to a connected view, a binding principle, hypothesis, or box.
  • Deductive thinking involves applying such a framework to observed details to see if the box has the capacity to interpret them. Logic is the science of deduction.
  • A Eureka moment is when you suddenly realise how to shift your perception.
  • A Caramba moment is when you realise one or more of your boxes (set of assumptions) are out of date. (A Spanish expression of surprise).
  • Re-examine your approach to business creativity in five steps:

1. Doubt everything: Challenge your current perspectives.

2. Probe the possible: Explore the options around you.

3. Diverge: Generate many new and exciting ideas, even if they seem absurd.

4. Converge: Evaluate and select ideas that will drive breakthrough results.

5. Re-evaluate: relentlessly. No idea is good forever.


  • To get the process rolling you need to create a climate of doubt, list and then challenge your current boxes, and set out a new set of boxes to investigate. Conduct a beliefs audit:
  • What are the inherent assumptions in your day-to-day work?
  • What has your organisation never feared that could destroy it?
  • If your company didn’t exist, what difference would it make?
  • Prospective thinking asks: What might or could happen? What should I do about it?
  • Boiling frogs are evolving situations that are slow and subtle (named after the spurious notion that a frog will fail to leap out of a boiling pot if the temperature is raised very gradually).
  • Describe your company or product using 5 words. Now try doing it without those words. You may create a new box.
  • “Yes and…” is productive. “Yes but…” is not.
  • “The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away.” Linus Pauling


  • There is a recurring and somewhat annoying mythical company called Ultragames that keeps being used as a working example.
  • The authors are from Boston Consulting Group, so there is an element of ‘brochure’ here.

number of view: 328


  1. Linchpin, Seth Godin, 58,900 hits
  2. Antifragile, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, 23,900
  3. Creative Disruption, Simon Waldman, 23,000
  4. Marketing Judo, Barnes & Richardson, 10,000
  5. Little Black Book of Innovation, Scott Anthony, 9,500
  6. The Brand Innovation Manifesto, John Grant, 9,500
  7. Adaptability, Max McKeown, 8,500
  8. The Use of Lateral Thinking, Edward de Bono, 7,900
  9. When Cultures Collide, Richard Lewis, 7,200
  10. Sticky Wisdom, Matt Kingdon, 6,100
  11. How Brands Grow, Byron Sharp, 5,000
  12. Talk Lean, Alan Palmer, 5,000
  13. Rigorous Magic, Taylor & Hatch, 4,900
  14. Drinking From The Fire Hose, Frank & Magnone, 4,800
  15. The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, Dan Ariely, 4,800
  16. Tell The Truth, Unerman & Salem Baskin, 4,300
  17. The Little Big Things, Tom Peters, 4,000
  18. The Bed of Procrustes, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, 4,000
  19. Organisations Don’t Tweet, Euan Semple, 4,000
  20. The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin, 4,000
  21. The Accidental Creative, Todd Henry, 3,700
  22. Contagious, Jonah Lehrer, 3,000
  23. The Language of Leaders, Kevin Murray, 3,000
  24. Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 2,900
  25. David & Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell, 2,800
  26. Makers, Chris Anderson, 2,700
  27. The Age of Unreason, Charles Handy, 2,500
  28. Business Is Beautiful, Danet et al., 2,000
  29. Obliquity, John Kay, 1,900
  30. The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz, 1,800
number of view: 367


03 2015

The Challenger Sale – Dixon & Adamson

The one-sentence summary

The best sales people don’t just build relationships with customers – they challenge them.


  • The best sales people don’t just build relationships with customers – they challenge them.
  • Every sales rep in the world falls into one of five distinct profiles, and while all can deliver average performance, only the Challenger delivers consistently high performance.
  • Based on their study of 6,000 reps, the five types are the Hard Worker, the Challenger, the Relationship Builder, the Lone Wolf and the Reactive Problem Solver.
  • Instead of leading with information about their company and its solutions, Challengers provide customers with surprising insights about how they can save or make money.
  • They tailor their message to each customer, they are assertive (not aggressive), and push back where necessary to take control of the sale.
  • Challengers provided double the number of high performers in the study, and at least half of them are more likely to succeed in a high complexity sales environment.
  • They have three main skills:

1. Teaching for differentiation: delivering insight that reframes the way customers think.

2. Tailoring for resonance: communicating sales messages in the context of the customer.

3. Taking control of the sale: openly pursuing goals in a direct but non-aggressive way to overcome increased customer risk aversion.


  • Commercial teaching involves 6 stages:

1. Warmer: build credibility through empathy.

2. Reframe: shock the customer with the unknown.

3. Rational drowning: intensify the problem, then break it down.

4. Emotional impact: humanize the problem.

5. Value proposition: introduce a new way, building confidence back up.

6. Solution and implementation map: how to fix it in detail with your product.

  • The KPMG SAFE-BOLD framework allows you to score from 1-10 the scale, risk, innovativeness, and difficulty of issues.
  • SAFE = Small, Achievable, Following, Easy.
  • BOLD= Big, Outperforming, Leading edge, Difficult.
  • The sales experience contributes more customer loyalty (53%) than the brand (19%), product and service delivery (19%), and value-to-price ratio (9%) put together.
  • Hypothesis-based Selling involves leading with an hypothesis of the customer’s needs, informed by experience and research.
  • Having widespread support for suppliers across an organization is now vital – going straight to the decision maker no longer works.


  • Nothing. This is based on deep research and sheds a new light on selling.

number of view: 427

Uncommon Sense, Common Nonsense – Goddard & Eccles

The one-sentence summary

Uncommon sense can provide companies with the advantage they need to rise above common nonsense.


  • There is common nonsense behind much managerial behaviour today, particularly in the tired and cynical assumptions that underpin organisational routines, rituals and discussions.
  • Uncommon sense is what differentiates smart companies from the others.
  • Incompetence explains performance differences better than competence.
  • The important things happen at the periphery – on the edge of chaos.
  • Deutero-learning involves picking up helpful secondary habits whilst mainly learning something else (Bateson 1904-1980).
  • Too many forums rely on HIPPO (a Highly Paid Person’s Opinion).
  • Management models biased in favour of control at the expense of learning tend to involve:
  • Best practice – the recipe for formulaic sameness
  • Operational excellence – ‘doorknob polishing’ pedestrian policies
  • Competitive benchmarking – plagiarism run riot
  • Balanced scorecards – the bureaucrat’s revenge
  • Performance targets – insults for the conscientious
  • Annual budgets – the pathology of under-ambition
  • Financial incentives – bribes for loners and cynics
  • Organisational alignment- fear of diversity
  • Shared values – the extinction of individualism
  • Professional standards – box-ticking for the risk averse
  • Charismatic leadership – narcissism unbound


  • No business sets out to impoverish shareholders, irritate customers, demoralise employees, outrage governments and leave the world worse off – so why write mission statements claiming otherwise?
  • A catalytic mechanism is any managerial method that acts as a galvanising, non-bureaucratic means to translate lofty aspirations into concrete reality. (Jim Collins)
  • The cock-up theory of warfare:

1. Armies make a cock-up of everything.

2. The more they try to do, the greater the chances of a cock-up.

3. The best way to win battles is to do nothing and wait for the other lot to cock things up.

~ “Companies are rarely killed; they prefer to commit suicide.”

~ “There is nothing as useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” Peter Drucker

~ “In a hierarchy, the top entrusts the understanding of detail to the lower levels, while the lower level credit the top with understanding of the general, and so all are mutually deceived.” Karl Marx

~ “No surprises? What, not even good ones?”


  • Nothing. This is pithy and inspirational.

number of view: 560