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 Google Works – Schmidt & Rosenberg

The one sentence summary

Smart creatives hold the key to success for companies.


  • Smart creatives hold the key to success for companies. They are a new breed of employee capable of creating superior products.
  • The internet, mobile and cloud computing have shifted the balance of power from companies to consumers.
  • There are many pearls of advice here, including:

~ Your plan is wrong: keep adjusting and iterating.

~ Keep them crowded: people in close proximity work more effectively.

~ Messiness is a virtue: creative people need to generate stuff and have it around them.

~ Passionate people don’t use the word: they live it.

~ Don’t listen to the HIPPOs: that’s the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion. A tenurocracy is where length of tenure gets you promoted, rather than merit.

~ Do all reorgs in one day: forget the 100-day plan and get on with it.

~ Bet on technical insights, not market research: engineers and smart creatives can tell you what is possible; customers probably can’t.

~ Default to open not closed: let people outside the company help to improve your products.

~ Urgency of the role isn’t sufficiently important to compromise quality when hiring: if they are not right, keep looking.

~ Decide with data: “You’re both right” may be true in opinion-based (overly diplomatic?) companies, but the data should rule decision making.

~ Be a damn good router: good leaders keep information and communications flowing regularly through the company.

~ 70/20/10 time allocation: 70% of resources dedicated to the core business, 20% on emerging, and 10% on new (speculative) work.


Climb, confess, comply is a good management approach. When pilots get in trouble, this is their approach:

  1. Climb: get yourself out of danger.
  2. Confess: talk to the tower, explain that you screwed up and how.
  3. Comply: when traffic controllers tell you how to do it better next time, do it.

“I leave out the parts that people skip.” Elmore Leonard, writer.

Good advice for emails.

“If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.”

Mario Andretti, racing driver.


  • It’s debatable whether much of this advice could help any company other than a fast-moving tech one.

number of view: 243

Top 30 most searched in the last three months

  1. Linchpin, Seth Godin – 67,000 hits
  2. Antifragile, Nassim Nicholas Taleb - 26,000
  3. Creative Disruption, Simon Waldman – 25,000
  4. The Brand Innovation Manifesto, John Grant – 10,700
  5. Marketing Judo, Barnes & Richardson – 10,500
  6. Little Black Book of Innovation, Scott Anthony – 9,900
  7. Adaptability, Max McKeown – 8,700
  8. The Use of Lateral Thinking, Edward de Bono – 8,100
  9. When Cultures Collide, Richard Lewis – 7,700
  10. The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin – 6,400
  11. Sticky Wisdom, Matt Kingdon – 6,300
  12. Rigorous Magic, Taylor & Hatch – 5,900
  13. Talk Lean, Alan Palmer – 5,700
  14. How Brands Grow, Byron Sharp – 5,600
  15. Drinking From The Fire Hose, Frank & Magnone – 5,300
  16. The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, Dan Ariely – 5,100
  17. The Age of Unreason, Charles Handy – 5,000
  18. The Bed of Procrustes, Nassim Nicholas Taleb – 4,600
  19. Tell The Truth, Unerman & Salem Baskin – 4,800
  20. The Little Big Things, Tom Peters – 4,300
  21. Organisations Don’t Tweet, Euan Semple – 4,300
  22. The Accidental Creative, Todd Henry – 3,800
  23. Contagious, Jonah Lehrer – 3,200
  24. The Language of Leaders, Kevin Murray – 3,000
  25. David & Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell, – 3,200
  26. Makers, Chris Anderson – 3,100
  27. Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – 2,600
  28. Business Is Beautiful, Danet et al – 2,100
  29. The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz – 2,100
  30. Obliquity, John Kay – 2,000

number of view: 291


07 2015

A Beautiful Constraint – Morgan & Barden

The one sentence summary

Constraints can lead to greater originality and ingenuity.


  • This is all about turning apparent constraints into sources of possibility and advantage. The overall message is that, contrary to popular belief,  constraints can lead to more originality and ingenuity.
  • It all starts with getting out of the victim stage (“We’re really inhibited here.”), through the neutralising stage (“Our ambition is too important to allow this constraint to inhibit it.”), to arrive at the transformer stage (“Let’s use this to stimulate better thinking.”)
  • The main recommendations are:

Break path dependence*

Most companies have a bundle of premises, processes, assumptions and ways of thinking that define “the way we do things round here.” This locked-in path is predictable and often doesn’t work.

Ask propelling questions**

These crucially bind a bold ambition to a significant constraint. They must be specific, legitimate and authoritative.


This comes mainly from Colin Kelly, Director of R&D at Warburton’s. Instead of listening to naysayers saying: “We can’t because”, he insists on problem solving language re-phrased as “We can if…” This approach keeps optimism in the process, and forces people to take responsibility for finding answers, rather than identifying barriers.

Create abundance

We nearly always have more resources available than we think. More imaginative thinking is needed to get round resource problems.

Activate emotions

Scientists have found a strong link between success in working around obstacles and having an emotional connection to the goal. Team leaders can identify the tension in these and develop a narrative to energise the team.


  • The Fertile Zero explains how we can learn from people who succeeded with next to nothing.
  • The Four Seasons Hotel has renamed its laundry department from “The Back end” (derogatory) to “Heart of House” (with a sense of pride).


  • There is a lot of American material in the book, which may resonate less well with UK readers.
  • The same brands are referred to again and again. It might have been more accessible if each case history were outlined once, and then cross-referred to the method.

*Diligent students of Morgan’s work will notice that this notion is very similar to Break with your immediate past, in Eating The Big Fish.

**And this notion is very similar to the outlooking, pushing and denting suggestions in The Pirate Inside.

number of view: 285


07 2015

One Plus One Equals Three – Dave Trott

The one sentence summary

Identifying and investigating areas we are not naturally interested in massively multiplies the amount of new connections we can make.


  • This is a series of provocative anecdotes designed to ignite your creative ambitions – a rallying cry for anyone who wants to think differently.
  • Identifying and investigating areas we are not naturally interested in massively multiplies the amount of new connections we can make.
  • This enables 1 + 1 to = 3, rather than the usual 2.
  • Being anecdotal, the book is hard to summarise in total, but there are 9 sections:

1. Regret is worse than embarrassment

You need the balls to try things and not worry about potential failure.

2.  Choice architecture

Change the problem you can’t solve into one that you can.

3. The spirit of the law, not the letter of the law

Good ideas are first ignored, then considered dangerous, then deemed to be obvious all along.

4. The message is the medium

Language choice is important, but it’s also where and when you say something that matters.

5. Disaster is a gift

When everything goes wrong, you have to change the plan and think again, leading to much increased creativity.

6. The value of ignorance

If you don’t know what apparently can’t be done, you can think freely.

7. Question the question

Reinterpreting the brief is often solving the problem.

8. Belief trumps fact

Before you sell the answer, sell the need.

9. Creativity is messy

Sticking to apparent wisdom prevents creative thinking – rebels and some chaos push boundaries more.


“In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock.”

Orson Welles, The Third Man


  • This is, as ever, just a series of anecdotes, so those preferring a method of some kind may be left wondering to do as a result.

number of view: 511


07 2015

The Internet Is Not The Answer – Andrew Keen

The one sentence summary

The Internet has had a disastrous impact on our lives by increasing unemployment and economic inequality.


  • Silicon Valley is full of hype, greed, egotism and inequity.
  • Far from bringing democracy to all, it has concentrated phenomenal wealth in the hands of the top 1%. This is the One Percent Economy.
  • Unemployment has been triggered by many Internet businesses. Amazon employs just 14 people per $10 million in sales, compared to 47 people for the equivalent in conventional bricks and mortar retailers.
  • Some studies predict that as many as 47% of all American jobs could be lost in the next couple of decades.
  • Meanwhile, the exploitative staff practices of Uber, Amazon and others give few, if any, rights, and unions are nowhere to be seen to represent the workers.
  • The ‘Golden Age of Labour’ has gone, to be replaced by a nasty divide between those whose skills ‘complement the computer’ and those that don’t. Wages for men have fallen 28% in the last 40 years.
  • In 2014 the global economy’s top five companies’ gross cash holdings (Apple, Google, Microsoft, Verizon and Samsung) came to $387 billion, the equivalent of the 2013 GDP of the United Arab Emirates.
  • Trust is very much absent. Only 5% of people trust Facebook with their personal data (35% trust the Inland Revenue).
  • Facebook makes over 30% of its users feel lonelier, angrier or more frustrated.
  • Rochester, once the home of the now-defunct Kodak, has a Broken Center and is now pretty much a ghost town. Similarly, the new economy resembles a donut, with a gaping hole in the middle where millions of workers were once paid to produce products.


  • The Web’s architecture is made up of three elements:
  1. Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) – computer language for marking up hypertext files.
  2. Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) – a taxonomy for travelling between them.
  3. Universal Resource Locator (URL) –a special address code linked to each file that can call up any other file
  • By 2012 there were more than 3 billion email accounts in the world sending 294 billion emails, of which 78% were spam.
  • The loose collective running Wikipedia is estimated to be 90% white western males with a slight personality defect. This is an example of the Internet generating small gangs who talk to themselves, which is the opposite of democracy.


  • This is a polemic – well-researched, but angry overall.

number of view: 580