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 Spark – Greg Orme

The one-sentence summary

You can foster a more creative organization by adopting ten helpful habits.


  • This is all about how to ignite and lead business creativity.
  • The spark is defined as an elusive moment when a new idea strikes that has the potential to transform the way you do business.
  • Ideas big and small are the lifeblood of successful businesses because they are responsible for higher profits, quicker growth, and game-changing innovation.
  • It outlines the 10 habits of successful creative leadership:
  1. Start an electric conversation – passionate people provide the rocket fuel
  2. Break the management rules – too many of them stifle innovation
  3. Lead with creative choices – hear the weak signals and develop them
  4. Become a talent impresario – fill your company with creative talent
  5. Know why you do what you do – you need an inspiring sense of purpose
  6. Connect through shared values – this philosophy binds everyone together
  7. Build a business playground – a lively atmosphere at work yields more ideas
  8. Balance focus with freedom – learn to deal with creative tensions
  9. Demolish idea barriers – outward-facing collaborative cultures work best
  10. Encourage collisions – create space where people bump into each other unexpectedly


  • Beware the Bozo Explosion. This was Steve Jobs’ phrase for a situation where managers are so polite that mediocre people feel comfortable sticking around. Creativity drops proportionately.
  • Netflix regularly deploy the Keeper Test, in which managers are asked which of their people they would fight hard to keep if they were told they were leaving. This helps identify the really vital creative talent.
  • The Say-do Gap refers to meaningless values written on company walls that have no power whatsoever. They can be a case of straightforward deceit, or merely insufficient commitment. Look out for these.
  • Dead Stars are silos in companies where the prevailing mood is corporate, fear-driven, and too marketing focused. There’s little inspiration there so they wither and die.
  • The CLEAR model shows the steps needed to foster a more creative culture: Communicate, Learn, Energise, Act, Respond.
  • “All great artists and thinkers are great workers, indefatigable not only in inventing, but also in rejecting, sifting, transforming, ordering.” Nietzsche
  • “Only dead fish go with the flow.” Malcolm Muggeridge


  • Much of this has been mentioned before, but it’s a well-informed handbook for anyone wanting to inject more creativity into a company.

number of view: 43


11 2014

The First Mile – Scott D. Anthony

The one-sentence summary

The first mile of any innovation is fraught, but it can be successfully navigated by following a diligent process.


  • This is a launch manual for getting great ideas into the market.
  • The first mile is where an idea moves from an idea on paper to existing in a market. This stage is the one most commonly afflicted with failure. It’s where danger lurks.
  • Less than 1% of ideas launched by big companies end up working.
  • The ideas aren’t the problem – it’s the process. The author proposes one called DEFT:

Document: write down the answer to these questions: is there a need, can we deliver, do the numbers work, and does it matter?

Evaluate: multiple perspectives, and what the unknowns are.

Focus: work out the deal killers and path dependencies (uncertainties that affect subsequent strategic choices).

Test: learn and adjust, use small teams, design tests carefully, savour surprises.

  • Fill out the 4P model: population, purchase frequency, price per transaction, penetration. This piece of maths gives a feel for likely success.
  • Our confidence in new projects is usually overstated because we overstate our ability to control events and our confidence in assessing outcomes with wide ranges. Meanwhile we underestimate risks and ignore black swan events (rare but with high impact).


  • Long-winded and time-consuming business plans are a waste of time. Instead, innovators should spend just enough time capturing the essence of their idea so they can easily share it with others.
  • The spreadsheet dance is also a waste of time. This is when the innovation team draws up a revenue projection for the new venture, only to be told to increase the numbers. The minimum acceptable answer needs careful scrutiny. And many innovations are impossible to forecast.
  • “All models are wrong, but some models are useful.” George Box
  • Fool’s gold white space is an apparent gap in the market, but it’s a failure masquerading as a viable opportunity.
  • The most common traps in innovation are making a wrong turn (lured by fool’s gold white space), running out of cash (usually caused by the planning fallacy – assuming things will happen faster than they do), picking leaders who lack empathy with the target market, and seeking to increase the scale of a business that isn’t yet ready.
  • Good innovators need exceptional detail orientation, to be comfortable with micro course corrections, and an eye for the unexpected.


  • Not much. It’s a well-informed handbook.

number of view: 162


11 2014

Die Empty – Todd Henry

The one-sentence summary

Don’t wait to do your best work – aim to unleash it every day.


  • You need to embrace the importance of now and refuse to allow the lull of comfort, fear, familiarity or ego from stopping you taking action on your ambitions.
  • The cost of inaction is vast. Don’t go to your grave with your best work inside of you. Choose to die empty.
  • Despite a lot of frantic activity, many people finish their working day wondering whether the work they did really matters.
  • Time is finite, so here is how you can make a unique contribution:
  • Define your battles: counter aimlessness by defining goals wisely and building your life around achieving them.
  • Be fiercely curious: prevent boredom from dulling your senses.
  • Step out of your comfort zone: get uncomfortable and embrace lifelong growth and skill development.
  • There are three kinds of work:

Mapping: planning, plotting objectives, and setting priorities.

Making: actually doing the work.

Meshing: “work between work” (unpaid, but it grows you).

  • Someone who does all three is a developer.
  • If you don’t mesh, you’re (just) a driver.
  • If you don’t map, you’re a drifter.
  • If you don’t make, you’re a dreamer.
  • The EMPTY method is to focus on: Ethics; Mission; People; Tasks; You


  • Purpose paralysis is fear of getting it wrong, but your body of work should reflect what’s important to you.
  • Pointless efficiency doesn’t get you anywhere as an individual. Far too many people are busily bored.
  • The seven deadly sins of mediocrity are: aimlessness, boredom, comfort, delusion, ego, fear, and guardedness.
  • All passion is not equal – you need productive passion.
  • Those who add unexpected value at work offer a GIFT: Generosity, Initiative, Forward momentum, Transparency.
  • Shadow pursuits are activities that capture our attention and give us a sense of accomplishment, but serve as a substitute for the real work that we know we should be doing.
  • Cover bands don’t change the world: do something original.


  • The author uses the word traction rather too much.
number of view: 157


11 2014

The Strategy Book – Max McKeown

The one-sentence summary

Thinking before you plan is vital. Strategists who don’t take time to think are just planners.


  • This is a handbook explaining how to generate powerful strategies, and what the strategy tools are that you can use.
  • Strategy is all about shaping the future, and that requires a combination of thinking, planning and reacting to events that emerge along the way.
  • The crucial questions are:

What do we want to do?

What do we think is possible?

What do we need to do to achieve our goals?

When should we react to new opportunities and adapt plans?

  • Thinking before you plan is vital. Strategists who don’t take time to think are just planners.
  • Imaginative, open, playful, passionate thinking is required before the serious work of planning begins. This involves knowing where the grass really is greener.
  • Inspiration and insight can be drawn from looking forward, backwards, and outwards, which often means blending smart prediction with past experience and astute observation of what’s happening outside the company and the category.
  • Strategists need to know what stage their organisation, industry, products and services have reached. What crises have they survived? What will be next?


  • Your company is a collection of decisions. And that’s what strategy is all about. If a decision is strategic it will:

Get specific things done.

Outmanoeuvre the competition.

Be part of a strategic pattern.

Fix the company’s position.

Risk (or save) the company’s position.

  • Survival is a priority, but growth is better. How has the company grown in the past? What can fuel it? Which markets and products could help?
  • Just doing what you did last year isn’t imaginative enough. Executive teams need to:

~ Find enough time to look at the bigger picture several times a year, with a talented facilitator.

~ Accelerate and deepen the strategy process by using many more people inside and outside the company.

  • Strategy can be a lot of intellectual and emotional fun. A great session will involve laughter.


Nothing – and the tool kit at the back is a great reference point if you are in a rut.

number of view: 479


10 2014


  1. Linchpin, Seth Godin, 47,300 hits
  2. Marketing Judo, Barnes & Richardson, 8,600
  3. Little Black Book of Innovation, Scott Anthony, 8,500
  4. Adaptability, Max McKeown, 6,700
  5. Sticky Wisdom, Matt Kingdon, 6,000
  6. When Cultures Collide, Richard Lewis, 6,000
  7. The Brand Innovation Manifesto, John Grant, 6,000
  8. The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, Dan Ariely, 4,600
  9. Rigorous Magic, Taylor & Hatch, 4,000
  10. Tell The Truth, Unerman & Salem Baskin, 3,800
  11. The Accidental Creative, Todd Henry, 3,600
  12. The Little Big Things, Tom Peters, 3,400
  13. The Use of Lateral Thinking, Edward de Bono, 3,400
  14. How Brands Grow, Byron Sharp, 3,200
  15. The Bed of Procrustes, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, 3,200
  16. Organisations Don’t Tweet, Euan Semple, 2,700
  17. Drinking From The Fire Hose, Frank & Magnone, 2,600
  18. Talk Lean, Alan Palmer, 2,400
  19. David & Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell, 2,300
  20. Contagious, Jonah Lehrer, 2,300
  21. The Language of Leaders, Kevin Murray , 2,300
  22. Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 2,200
  23. Makers, Chris Anderson, 2,200
  24. Antifragile, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, 1,900
  25. The Age of Unreason, Charles Handy, 1,900
  26. Business Is Beautiful, Danet et al. , 1,800
  27. Obliquity, John Kay, 1,800
  28. The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz, 1,700
  29. The Art of Action, Stephen Bungay, 1,600
  30. Smart Leadership, Yudelowitz et al., 1,600
number of view: 215


10 2014