Creative Genius

The Innovation Handbook for Business Leaders

Time and space. Genetics and robotics. Education and fashion. Possibilities limited only by our imaginations. The future is yours to create. Could you be the Leonardo de Vinci of our times? 

Most ideas are incremental, quickly copied and suffocated by conventions. “Future back” thinking starts with stretching possibilities then makes them a reality “now forward”.

The best ideas emerge by seeing what everyone has seen, and thinking like nobody else. Newness occurs in the margins not the mainstream. Solutions emerge through powerful fusions of the best ideas into practical, useful concepts.

We now live in a creative economy, where ideas are the most valuable assets, and creative people rise up. Visionaries, border crossers and game changers. Engage your right brain, open your eyes, think more holistically … intuition rules.

  • Future back. Escape the limitations of existing markets by designing the future then working backwards to today.
  • World views. Creativity is about perspective, seeing your world through new eyes – children, space, art.
  • Rule breaking. First define all the rules and conventions and then imagine how you could break or invert them.
  • Open and close. Creativity is divergent whilst innovation is also convergent, ensuring creative ideas have impact.
  • Creative fusions. The best solutions often emerge from combinations – atomic ideas into molecular concepts.
  • Open innovation. Customers are collaborative partners in innovation, turning new insights into useful applications.
  • Trickling up. Ideas flow from margins to mainstream, from extreme users, other sectors and emerging markets.
  • Aesthetic design. Memorable design is like nature. It has beauty and purpose, form that follows function.
  • Market vortex. Market entry is just the start, it how you influence and reshape markets that define your destiny
  • Social entrepreneurs. Sustainability is our biggest catalyst, finding new ways to make peoples’ lives better.

Creative Genius is inspired by the imagination and perspective of Leonardo da Vinci, in order to drive creativity, design and innovation in more radical and powerful ways. It includes 20 practical tools ranging from scenario planning and context reframing to accelerated innovation and market entry, plus 50 case studies including

3M … In 1969 Neil Armstrong took man’s first steps on the moon wearing space boots with soles made by 3M. Now, an $18bn market leader, 3M describes itself as “the innovation company”. Not only does it focus on “practical and ingenious solutions that help customers succeed”, but also on transforming markets and customer behaviour itself. 3M’s innovation techniques are legendary. These include the insights that spark new products – the choirboy that inspired the Post-It note, and 10% of every week’s hours dedicated to “bootlegging” – working on crazy ideas from which 30% of new revenues emerge. It’s innovation process consists of parallel approaches to concept, product and market innovation.

Nintendo … “Leave luck to Heaven” is the English translation of Nintendo. The keiretsu’s first idea was handmade hanfuda cards, followed by a taxi service and love hotel. Eventually, this evolved into playing cards and today a $85 billion video game company like no other. From the double-screen, hand-held Nintendo DS to the all-conquering collaborative action of the Nintendo Wii, the Kyoto innovator continues to reshape its industry. However it is not just about electronics, but about the aesthetics of design and human interaction that sets Nintendo apart. Japanese culture Shibui means unobtrusive beauty. Wabi sabi is the reflection of inner perfection and simplicity.

Pixar … When it comes to producing breakthroughs, both technological and artistic, Pixar’s track record is unique. Toy Story in 1995 was the world’s first computer-animated feature film and was followed by blockbusters likes of Monsters, Inc., The Incredibles and WALL·E. Every story and characters is created internally by a closely-knit community of artists and engineers. Pixar started in 1979 as the Graphics Group, a part of Lucasfilm until it was bought by Steve Jobs in1986. He shaped the company into what it is today, and continues to oversee its development since being acquired by Disney in 2006. Pixar and Disney Animation Studios now collaborate constantly pushing the technological possibilities of animation.

Virgin Galactic … Richard Branson’s Virgin Group needs little introduction – from his early pioneering music business he leapt into the aviation world without any idea about running airlines. But quickly found people to help. Championing the customer, challenging existing markets, became a Virgin speciality – and succeeded in everything from finance to cosmetics, mobile phones and TV. What is there left to do, mused Branson to first side-kick. “Go to space” replied Will Whitehorn, who set about building Spaceport America, testing SpaceShipOne,. With the help of rocket scientist Burt Rutan, Virgin is launching space travel for the masses, at a fraction of the cost, and carbon emissions, of NASA.

Future Back

Track 1: Leonardo da Vinci 

Inspired by his relentless curiosity and perspective, what are the creative talents that enable you to think differently, better and deeper, to create a better future? 

Track 2: Time and space

Exploring the future world, through time travel and whitespaces to find the best opportunities … with the spaceships and stardust of Virgin Galactic 

Track 3: Creative minds 

New thinking for work and life, where ideas are the new currency of success … as demonstrated by Nintendo’s ultimate game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto 

Track 4: World changing 

Seismic shifts that are transforming your markets, invisible but with immense implications … like the new vision for India of Aravind Eye Care 

Track 5: Whitespaces

Women and the elderly, genetics and water, networks and 50 billion devices … the big opportunities that demand the creative animation of Pixar 

Track 6: Future back 

Start with the impossible, then work out how to make it possible with more dramatic results … like Nobel prize-winning entrepreneur Mohammad Yunus 

Track 7: Creativity 

The extraordinary power of ideas, inspired by jesters and sages to make new connections and possibilities … with the elegance of Donna Karan 

Track 8: Design 

The fusion of function and form to give new ideas structure and style … learning from the “tae kuk” of new the new technology star, Samsung

Track 9: Innovation 

Making the best ideas happen successfully, and ultimately make life better for people … with sand dune-running, cyclone powered James Dyson

Track 10: Genius 

Welcome to “the Genius Lab”, where inspiration meets perspiration, and how this book can help … plus the reality distortion field of Steve Jobs. 

+ The Ideas Factory

Track 11: Getting started 

The “fuzzy front-end” of problems and opportunities, dreams and napkin diagrams … and the “grande fromage” of the creative world, Philippe Starck

Track 12: Seeing things differently 

Ideas and imagination achieved through different worldviews, and by simply getting out there … seeing the bigger picture like Tim Berners-Lee

Track 13: Patterns and paradox 

Making sense of the uncertain futures, through pattern recognition and paradox resolution … where the future is a little robot, the Honda Asimo

Track 14: Future scenarios 

Building visions of alternative futures that stretch your vision and sharpen your decision-making … with rocket scientist to the stars, Burt Rutan

Track 15: Deep diving 

Immersing yourself in the customer world, through intuition and deep diving to understand more … like a day in Mumbai with Ratan Tata 

Track 16: Crowdsourcing 

Harnessing the power of people, because many are smarter than few … creating the wonderful user-generated t-shirts of Threadless 

Track 17: Extremes and parallels 

Finding the deviants and border-crossers, in the margins not the mainstream, and even the Masai Mara … with the distinctive twist of Paul Smith 

Track 18: Rule Breakers 

Seizing discontinuity and disruption, breaking rules and conventions to do things differently … oh, and the sheep, sharks and skull of Damian Hirst 

Track 19: Ideation 

Igniting the power of ideas and hypothesises to stretch, challenge and imagine better solutions … with the enlightened teamwork of IDEO 

Track 20: The Ideas Toolkit 

5 essential tools to generate better ideas – to stretch thinking from the future back, and bring together ideas from different perspectives.

The Design Studio

Track 21: Design Thinking

Design as a mindset for the creative business, one that creates, shapes and communicates ideas … like the real man of Apple, Jonathan Ive 

Track 22: Context reframing

Finding your bigger idea by changing the frame of reference by which ideas are perceived … like when graffiti becomes artwork with Banksy

Track 23: Co-creation

Creativity that unlocks the power of customer “ubuntu” to develop more relevant solutions … with the push to pull of Proctor & Gamble

Track 24: Creative partners 

Collaboration that exploits open innovation and ideas exchanges with the spirit of “Koinonia” … and the enduring magic of Disney 

Track 25: Experimentation 

Prototypes and simulations, accelerating time to market with “test learn test” … and the molecular gastronomy of the world’s best restaurant, El Bulli 

Track 26: Concept fusions 

Connecting ideas to create better solutions, and articulating the concepts that will make life better … inspired by the huge sculptures of Anish Kapoor 

Track 27: Simplicity 

Beauty, say the scientists, is in the simplicity of complexity. And so it is in the real world … with the eight laws of digital artist John Maeda

Track 28: Experience design 

Experiences add theatre and passion to products and services, they do more for people … as Frank Gehry did for the Guggenheim Bilbao 

Track 29: Evaluating concepts 

Which are the winning designs? How to evaluate ideas that have no history and so numbers are not enough … and the winning formula of Alessi

Track 30: The Design Toolkit 

5 essential tools to design better concepts – the practical steps to turn creative ideas into winning concepts

+ The Impact Zone

Track 31: Launch Pads 

Accelerating new ideas to market, using the diffusion of innovation, whilst ensuring you cross the chasm … and taste the amazing chocolate pots of 

Track 32: Creative scripts 

Selling ideas through storytelling, learning from the hype and hysteria of Apple launches … and the “just do it” advertising of Wieden+Kennedy

Track 33: Profit models 

Making sure ideas make money through innovative business models and effective pricing strategies … with the commercial flair of Giorgio Armani 

Track 34: Brand propositions

Making ideas relevant and distinctive through propositions that focus on the key benefits to customers … like the sports cars that care, from Tesla

Track 35: Contagious ideas

Capturing the memes and viruses that make ideas spread, whilst overcoming the “hype curve” … like rockstar with more ideas, Dave Stewart 

Track 36: Market shaping 

Winning in the vortex of fast-changing markets through continuous in-market innovation … with the relentless persistence of Zaha Hadid 

Track 37: Protecting ideas 

Copyrights, trademarks and patents that become your most valuable assets in a creative world … and the new entertainment world of Live Nation

Track 38: Going further 

Reaching out to adjacent markets though licensing and franchising to do more with your creative assets … like Ed Hardy revolutionary Christian Audigier 

Track 39: Delivering results

Harnessing the value drivers and performance metrics to ensure that innovation delivers profitable growth … with the creative rigour of Whirlpool 

Track 40: The Impact Toolkit 

5 essential tools to ensure that the best ideas have the most impact in their markets … and to sustain their success over time Description:

+ Now Forward

Track 41: Creative leaders 

Recreating the Medici effect, the ability to support and connect people and partners for extraordinary results … and the Oriental fashion of Shanghai Tang 

Track 42: Innovation strategy 

Ensuring that ideas drive profitable growth through alignment of business and innovation … as demonstrated by “design for business” at Lego 

Track 43: Creative Culture 

Hotspots and happiness in the innovative organisation that embraces change and imagination every day … recreating “the spirit of Enzo” at Ferrari 

Track 44: Innovative processes 

New product development that learns from the stage gates of NASA to become open and networked … and reinventing innovation at 3M 

Track 45: Creative people 

Visionaries, border crossers and game changers. How to ignite the power of creative people … and create fireworks like Cai Guo-Qiang 

Track 46: Innovation ventures 

Ventures and incubators that make ideas happen faster inside and outside your business … and Silicon Valley’s most connected entrepreneur, Reid Hoffman 

Track 47: Creative networks 

The creativity of people and places and how creative companies come together to create better ideas … like the Innovation Jams of IBM 

Track 48: Managing innovation 

Managing the people, projects and portfolios that make the best innovations happen time after time … and life in the Googleplex with Google 

Track 49: Game changing 

Creative revolutions and the “X Prizes” that deliver breakthroughs that normal processes can’t … and the relentless innovator, Niklas Zennström 

Track 50: Now forward 

So what will you do today? How to make your own ideas happen and find your edge in the changing world … Here’s to the crazy ones

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Book details

Publisher: Capstone
Publication date: January 28, 2011
ISBN: 9781841127897


This book provides a framework for businesses to innovate in a way that creates competitive advantage. It shows that innovation is a mix of science and creativity and more than just sitting in the board room trying to think of new ideas. This book will be valuable to anyone that benefits from developing new ideas because it will show you how to develop and commercialise your ideas. I have my copy on my desk at all times. Happy innovating.

Mark Pitt, CEO of Virgin Australia and NZ

If you flip open marketing expert Peter Fisk’s remarkable innovation handbook, you’ll find something useful on every page. After introducing Leonardo da Vinci as a model and enumerating his qualities, Fisk offers a choppy but interesting host of lenses, images, options, ideas, metaphors, models and approaches, all to provide new perspectives based on a synthesis of sound concepts that you might not think of combining. getAbstract recommends Fisk’s manual to anyone seeking a guide to innovation that is immediately accessible and applicable. Though the cover shows no subhead, one appears on the title page promising “An Innovation Guide for Business Leaders, Border Crossers and Game Changers.” And that is what Fisk provides.

Rolf Dobelli

The book is fun, informative and inspiring. The examples are relevant and interesting and if you follow the work of AG Lafley, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this. My Innovation and Entrepreneurship module on my MBA course was unbelievably dull, much to my surprise but this book restores my faith in the subject.
This is just one of those immensely readable books which flows smoothly like a graceful display of t’ai ch’i rather than inching towards brain atrophy to which academically minded textbooks can sometimes lead.

George MacNeill