Okay… alright… yes… you can accuse me of downright clickbaiting and copying. I’m not so clever as to have come up with such a title…

But the lessons that Paul B. Carrol and Chuncka Mui teach us in “The New Killer Apps” are just so good! And besides that, “Think Big, Start Small, Learn Fast” is such a great summary! So simple, yet so true!

For those who have no idea what I’m brabbling about:

Paul and Chuncka are the authors of a book called “The New Killer Apps – How large companies can out-innovate startups”. And the lessons they share, together with some very practical tips make this book an easy recommendation to anyone looking for more information on topics like: “How will I get some true innovation flowing at my company?”, “I always seem to hit a brick-wall when I try something new”, “My company does not see the urgency for change or innovation…”.

Small startups beat big and slow. We have all seen it… but; big and agile beats anyone! Even larger companies can set up for great innovation and make some great steps towards reinventing their business segment.

Through 3 major mindsets (Think big, start small, learn fast) Paul and Chuncka elaborate on 8 rules to improve the flow of innovation in a company. The funny thing is, I was already thinking in similar ways when I wrote an earlier blog “Destroy your company!” (you can even see my boss referencing to the book in the comments).

A highover summary of the book:

Through thinking big you really embrace the whole wide array of possibilites, and even more important: you embrace your biggest dooms-day scenario. Don’t ask for the bad weather report, make sure you receive the end-of-world statement. This is a great way to get you to think how you can re-assess your business and set up for reinventing it! Make sure that, when thinking about the possibilities, you don’t let yourelf get blinded by any internal obstacles, but really start with “a clean sheet of paper” (anything is possible!).

Next to that, what is important when you are thinking big, is that you understand your context. The coming years more and more around us will be driven by technology and/or software so it’s vital to understand that domain. Paul and Chuncka expect the major technological advances in 6 main areas (Mobile devices, Cloud, Cameras, Sensors, Social Media and Emergent Knowledge (the thing that follows after collecting Big Data).

By starting small you will make sure to prevent yourself from baking and eating whole cakes in a big burst of gluttony, but instead prepare multiple smaller cupcakes and then even only tasting a small part of some… (this post is making me hungry!). What I’m saying here is that companies that start small are succesfull in launching multiple smaller initiatives and really focus on gathering data and learning before doing anything else. There are 2 important things to remember here: Don’t get hung up on financial projections too soon (Paul and Chuncka actually advise to “kill the finance guys”, which, really, you shouldn’t do, offcourse), and try to find a more creative way to deal with investments into your killer apps (perhaps let the company take options on your apps, allowing them to back out whenever they want, but letting you able to continue anyway and sell it to whomever they’d want). Secondly, it is vital you keep spreading your vision. Make sure people understand what you are doing and why. There really is no such thing as overcommunicating! Get everyone on the same page!

Great! You’ve started small, built some great potential killer apps and are gathering data. The finance guys are left for dead in the corner, all seems good.

Last step: Learn fast!

Companies that learn fast have proven to take a scientific approach to innovation. Extensive prototyping before getting to the pilot phase, or even a (big) roll-out. Fast learners are able to utilize all the data they get and are succesfull in also making the tough decisions (kill your darlings – if proven not worthy). Remember that showing a working prototype is really a lot better then powerpoint slides or pages of a document. Tangible results that actually show what the product will look like.

One thing to remember in learning fast is the biased opinion. You have seen something come to life and therewithin lies the danger that you are blind to any possible problems or setbacks. So in learning fast it might help a big deal to get a devil’s advocate on the team who will always look with a critical eye on what you are doing, and challenge you along the way.

“The New Killer Apps” has some great practical workshop advices (Doomsday scenario, backcasting the future, be your own most dangerous competitor, etc) which can really help you as conversation starters in your company. Next to that, for every rule and step they offer great real life examples (Blockbuster, Amazon, Walmart, Fujifilm, Google, Apple, JCpenny, and a range of other companies) to show what has and hasn’t worked over the last years. Their insights based on research in the field of technological innovation has helped me to rethink how I see the modern day world.

If you’re looking for an after-summer read, this is it!

Have you read it? Or perhaps have a tip on what I should also pick up? Let me know! I’m curious to hear from you!