The one sentence summary

Make new ideas practical and useful, work with others in an idea-hungry culture, and marshal the forces to help them win.


  • The book contains a series of provocations to help rebels, mavericks and innovators to think differently.
  • Innovators have three jobs:

1. Make new ideas useful. Innovation is all about practical creativity, having insights, creating, improving, crafting and nurturing new ideas. It’s also about making new ideas from old ones, reinventing what already exists, and making new ideas easier to swallow.

2. Build a bigger brain. This means getting other people to help, doing things collectively, and encouraging idea-hungry cultures, fighting off idea zombies and sharing the rewards of creativity.

3. Win with new ideas. This involves helping new ideas to win so they can truly be useful, competing with other ideas, and finding friends to provide influence, resources and strategy to make them succeed.

  • The true parents of innovation are necessity and curiosity. Before invention there is insight, and there are three types:
  • Problem insight: you are dissatisfied with something that needs improving.
  • Solution insight: you recognise a new approach that may prove useful.
  • Curiosity insight: driven by the need to discover, play and create for its own sake.
  • Innovation hurts. You need the right pain for the right gain.
  • Most change comes from demand pain – what customers want when they have experienced better.
  • There’s always people pain – not everyone embraces innovation.
  • There is unnecessary pain as a result of mistakes. And there is necessary pain, but that doesn’t mean the idea isn’t worthwhile.


  • New ideas are like babies: beautiful, ugly, and not finished yet. They are never perfect, they are fragile, and they need nurturing.
  • Get your hands dirty, take things apart, and rebuild them in new ways. If you don’t start, you’re finished.
  • What you know can hurt. Reverse what is obvious and the result is original.
  • Little can be huge. You can reap big rewards for noticing little things. Bet small and win often.
  • Everything better is made of something that was once worse. Remixed, remade, reborn.
  • Make your ideas easier to swallow by making them superior, compatible, simple, observable and ready to trial. The best ideas are the simplest.
  • Idea-hungry cultures embrace an orthodoxy of the unorthodox.
  • Leaders matter to innovation by cutting it some slack, allowing space for it, and encouraging a meeting of minds, not mindless meetings. They create an idea market, not a creativity bin.
  • Hire people for how they learn, not what they know. No one knows anything about tomorrow.
  • You need just enough disunity to drive progress. New ideas are difficult and most things fail – get over it.
  • Second mover advantage can often work. The winner is often the loser.
  • Don’t compete with obvious competitors. Do what they don’t want to do, do what they don’t understand, and hit them where they ain’t.


  • Not much, but don’t expect a method – this is essentially a motivational book.