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How to Kill a Unicorn

How the World's Hottest Innovation Factory Builds Bold Ideas That Make It to Market

By Mark Payne
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How to Kill a Unicorn by Mark Payne
Synopsis

How to Kill a Unicorn (2014) is about how to approach innovative projects in a way that will make the outcome truly great – a sort of road map for innovation, filled with practical examples encountered by the consulting company Fahrenheit 212.

Key idea 1 of 6

To make innovation happen, build a diverse team and allow them to debate.

Fahrenheit 212 is a global innovation firm founded by the author. Even if you haven’t heard of it, you’ve probably encountered its work; it’s helped many of the biggest companies in the world – including Samsung, Coca-Cola, Nestlé and Toyota – develop innovative ideas, strategies and products.

So what can Fahrenheit 212 teach you about generating innovation?

First, team up with a diverse group of people. At Fahrenheit, they create dream teams with Money & Magic. That is, they combine money experts – commercial, financial and strategic whizzes – together with experts who know how to “magically” navigate consumer wants and needs.

What makes this the winning combo? Well, consider an innovative idea or strategy that appeals to consumers but doesn’t bring in profit. Without a black bottom line, the idea probably won’t be sustainable in the long run.

Let’s see how Fahrenheit 212 puts this advice into action.

To help turn Samsung’s new translucent LCD screen into profitable technology, Fahrenheit brought together a team of analysts and financial experts (Money) with designers, writers, architects and film producers (Magic). Together, they came up with creative product solutions that were also financially and strategically viable.

Next, in order to arrive at those great innovative ideas, forget brainstorming – try debating with your team instead.

A 2003 study conducted at UC Berkeley showed that debate and criticism, rather than inhibiting the development of ideas, tend to stimulate it.

In the experiment, researchers divided 265 students into groups and asked them to come up with a solution to a traffic-congestion problem. One group was asked to brainstorm without criticism, while the other group was told to debate, with all members being free to challenge each other’s ideas.

After 20 minutes, the debate group had come up with far more creative ideas than the brainstorming group, showing the importance of constructive criticism and an array of viewpoints in the creative innovation process.

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