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 200 books to choose from


number of view: 0


12 2012

The Art of Innovation – Tom Kelley

The one-sentence summary

Successful innovation needs the right conditions and attitude – an eye for what can be improved, a rapid approach to prototyping, and a resilient problem-solving orientation.


  • This is the 2001 classic from the founder of innovation agency Ideo.
  • A number of principles are outlined, all of which contribute to the right conditions for high quality innovation:
  1. Innovation at the top: it’s no good someone tinkering in a basement – the mandate to innovate has to come from the top.
  2. Winging it in start-up mode: fast and practical problem solving is the right attitude.
  3. Innovation begins with an eye: great innovators notice things that annoy them or that can be made better – they keep a “bug list” of things that bug them and look for better alternatives.
  4. Perfect brainstorms: doing them well is an art and requires regular practice (see later). Bodystorming is acting out the customer experience.
  5. Hot groups: small, diverse teams work best. Look for visionaries, iconoclasts, troubleshooters, craftsmen, technologists, and cross-dressers (people who have had more than one type of career).
  6. Prototyping as shorthand: making them fast and early improves the process.
  7. Build a greenhouse: the office needs to be a place where these ideas can flourish.
  8. Expect the unexpected: nothing proceeds smoothly – innovators expect hitches and are good at overcoming barriers.


  • Innovators understand customer needs by imagining themselves to be “left-handed”, or by seeing things through a child’s eyes.
  • It helps to view products as verbs – then you can properly envisage them in action and design them more appropriately.
  • Good brainstorms involve a sharp (non-fuzzy) focus; playful rules; numbering your ideas; building and jump from idea to idea; using the physical space (usually the walls) to capture everything; stretching your mental muscles; and getting physical.
  • Abolish the word “they” in the office: “we” are responsible for everything.
  • Cross-pollination can be achieved by surfing widely different information sources, taking on the perspective of a film director, holding an open house, talking to advocates, hiring outsiders, changing hats, and being trained in a new skill.
  • Watch customers incessantly, play with your physical workspace, break rules, and “fail forward” so that change is part of the culture.


  • Not much. This is a classic handbook for anyone wishing to innovate.

number of view: 200

Creative Confidence – Kelley & Kelley

The one-sentence summary

We all have creative potential that can be unleashed and there are many techniques that can help.


  • This book is from the founders of Ideo, the innovation agency. It argues that we can all be creative, and offers a range of techniques for doing so.
  • The basic steps are:

Flip: moving from design thinking to creative confidence.

Dare: moving from fear to courage; being prepared to have a go.

Spark: think like a traveller, empathise with the end user, and make field observations to inform improvements.

Leap: from planning to action – do something. Don’t get stuck in the planning phase. Keep a bug list – things that annoy you and should be improved. Then work out how to fix them; bridge the knowing/doing gap.

Seek: from duty to passion. The looks good, feels bad trap keeps people doing things they don’t care about just for the money or security.

Team: work in creatively confident groups by keeping your sense of humour, minimizing hierarchy, building on the energy of others, trusting camaraderie, and deferring judgement – at least temporarily.

Move: have the confidence to go and get on with it.

  • There are usually three factors to balance in any innovation programme:

Business: is it viable?

Technical: is it feasible?

People: is it desirable?


  • There is no word in the Tibetan language for creativity or being creative – it merely translates as being natural, more like when we were young and not afraid to experiment.
  • People with self-efficacy set their sights higher, try harder and persevere longer (Carol Dweck’s ‘growth mindset’).
  • Design-driven innovation involves inspiration, synthesis, ideation and experimentation, and implementation.
  • Guided mastery is a series of small successes leading to much greater creative confidence. The counterpoint to this is an anti-portfolio – a failure resume from which lessons can be learned.
  • Many people carry a creativity scar – an incident from their youth where they were embarrassed when experimenting with something. This makes them scared to try new things as adults.
  • Add constraints to spur action: less time, budget, or fewer people or resources.
  • For easier buy-in by colleagues and bosses, recast changes as experiments.
  • “Everything in modern society is the result of a collection of decisions made by someone. Why shouldn’t that someone be you?”


  • Not much. It’s a comprehensive toolkit and call to arms for innovative thinking.

number of view: 163


07 2014

Consiglieri – Richard Hytner

The one-sentence summary

Being a successful no.2 can be just as rewarding as being No.1.


  • This book is all about leading from the shadows, and it celebrates the role of the right-hand man, or consigliere (the name given to the closest adviser to mafia heads).
  • Much business writing emphasises that the key to success lies in getting to the top, but not everybody can be number one and, perhaps more importantly, not everyone wants to be.
  • Although it is easy to disparage the role of those who are ‘No.2’, these people often determine the fate of companies and countries.
  • “He’s a great no.2” is often regarded as synonymous with “He’ll never make no.1”, leading to what the author calls Second Syndrome.
  • In fact, As (top leaders) and Cs (consiglieri) share similar qualities founded on trust, credibility, confidence and emotional intelligence.
  • This can be expressed as an equation: LQ = TQ(C+C) x EQ, where:
  • LQ = Leadership Quotient
  • TQ = a multiple of your credibility times your confidence score
  • EQ = Emotional Quotient
  • Those with leadership aspirations should try both roles if possible before settling into one or the other.


  • The central message of the book is that the best leadership teams beat to a reciprocal drum. The A and C need to find out what makes each other tick.
  • Although leaders are often derided and regarded as selfish, they do in fact take many of the tasks and responsibilities that lesser mortals would not enjoy, nor possibly even be able to do.
  • Consiglieri enjoy spending a lifetime learning, bringing other people on, and from time to time making crucial interventions that have a deep bearing on what the A is doing.
  • To get the most out of everybody, consiglieri need to be at ease, reliable in their actions, driving new ideas, and brave enough at all times to tell the A what’s what. They are content, constant, catalytic and courageous.
  • There are many different types of consiglieri, including the lodestone (frees the A from management burdens), educators (inform and nurture), anchors (centres of authenticity), and deliverers (decisive influencers).
  • Helpful qualities for the C include knowing when to give counsel, knowing how to deliver bad news (well), and knowing when to stop.


  • Many of the examples are from politics, sport, and literature. It is pot luck what type you find stimulating.
  • Juggling large numbers of As and Cs can make some sentences hard to read at first until you get into a rhythm and familiar with the typologies.

number of view: 124


07 2014


  1. Linchpin, Seth Godin, 31,500 hits
  2. Little Black Book of Innovation, Scott Anthony, 7,600
  3. Sticky Wisdom, Matt Kingdon, 5,900
  4. Adaptability, Max McKeown, 5,700
  5. Marketing Judo, Barnes & Richardson, 5,200
  6. When Cultures Collide, Richard Lewis, 5,100
  7. The Brand Innovation Manifesto, John Grant, 5,000
  8. The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, Dan Ariely, 3,900
  9. Rigorous Magic, Taylor & Hatch, 3,300
  10. Tell The Truth, Unerman & Salem Baskin, 3,200
  11. 11.The Little Big Things, Tom Peters, 3,000
  12. How Brands Grow, Byron Sharp, 2,700
  13. The Bed of Procrustes, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, 2,700
  14. Organisations Don’t Tweet, Euan Semple, 2,400
  15. Contagious, Jonah Lehrer, 2,100
  16. The Accidental Creative, Todd Henry, 2,000
  17. The Language of Leaders, Kevin Murray , 1,800
  18. Business Is Beautiful, Danet et al.  , 1,700
  19. Obliquity, John Kay, 1,700
  20. Makers, Chris Anderson, 1,700
  21. The Art of Action, Stepehn Bungay, 1,600
  22. The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz, 1,600
  23. David & Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell, 1,600
  24. Talk Lean, Alan Palmer, 1,600
  25. Smart Leadership, Yudelowitz et al., 1,500
  26. Drinking From The Fire Hose, Frank & Magnone, 1,400
  27. The Age of Unreason, Charles Handy, 1,300
  28. Creative Mischief, Dave Trott, 1,200
  29. Overconnected, William Davidow, 1,000
  30. Money Blood And Revolution, George Cooper, 900
number of view: 286


07 2014

The Obstacle Is The Way – Ryan Holiday

The one-sentence summary

We give up too easily, when often the obstacle we face can be the very inspiration for the way forward.


· Great achievers in the world don’t necessarily have exceptional, luck, talent or experience. They live by a single maxim: ‘What stands in the way becomes the way.’

· If you manage your perceptions, recognise when you can and can’t change things, and direct your actions appropriately, you can usually turn obstacles to your advantage.

· The author outlines three main areas to achieve this:

1. Perception

It takes discipline to be objectively self-aware; steady your nerves and recognise the power you have; control your emotions and keep an even keel; ignore what disturbs or limits others; live in the present moment, and try to think differently; find the opportunity (often out of adversity), prepare to act, and focus on what can truly be controlled.

2. Action

Taking action itself involves discipline; practice persistence because few things happen first time; iterate, change something, then go again; do your job and do it right; be pragmatic – what’s right is what works; use obstacles against themselves and ‘attack on the flanks’ – where action is least expected; use craftiness and savvy, with an eye for opportunity and pivotal moments; channel your energy and be prepared for none of it to work.

3. Will

Build your ‘inner citadel’ – a strength of purpose; think negatively (but not pessimistically) to anticipate complications and prepare for more difficult times; acquiesce where appropriate – you can’t force everything, so accept what you are you unable to change; learn to love everything that happens (your fate?); consider the overall value of something bigger than yourself and submit to a larger cause; meditate on your mortality – you only have one life so you might as well make the most of it. Then start the whole process again.


· The basic principle of turning trials into triumph is uplifting and pleasantly optimistic.

· The basic stoic philosophy – what is in the way is the way – has a courageous ring to it, even if it is hard to apply.

· “It’s simple – it’s just not easy” is a fair summary of what the book proposes.


· It’s the usual American macho thing. We don’t all want to be world-beaters, so the relentless “you can smash anything out of your way to achieve your goals” message may prove somewhat wearisome to UK and other less gung-ho readers.

· The military metaphor (Marcus Aurelius, Rommel, Churchill) receives another extended airing, whereas most of us are just going to the office and doing our modest thing.

number of view: 239


07 2014