The Book Corner - Review

Breakthrough! A 7-Step System for Developing Unexpected and Profitable Ideas by Paul Kurnit and Steve Lance

Breakthrough! A 7-Step System for Developing Unexpected and Profitable Ideas

By Paul Kurnit and Steve Lance
AMACOM, 2010


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2 stars: Read this book if and when you have the time

5 stars: Stop what you're doing and read this book!Breakthrough! is not a breakthrough book (Ray and Meyer’s 1986 book on Creativity in Business qualifies). Nor is Breakthrough! likely to appear on a “10 Most Brilliant Books on Applied Creativity” list (Creativity by Csikszentmihalyi qualifies). But if you seek an easy-to-read “how-to” book on logistics that foster innovation in your organization, then Breakthrough! may serve as your mug of java. (Pardon this reviewer’s colloquialism, but it is an apt orientation for some of the book’s vernacular, including chapter titles, “How Ya Doin’?” and “Who Ya Gonna Call,” along with such breezy statements such as “It ain’t easy, but it’s doable.”)

Pragmatically, each of the seven chapters of this how-to volume covers vital aspects involved in developing and implementing a marketable “Big Idea.” They include:

1. Transcend the ordinary

2. Secure support

3. Organize a passionate, cross-disciplinary R & D team

4. Facilitate brainstorming to produce your “Big Idea”

5. Sell it to upper management

6. Produce a plan to bring the “Big Idea” into the marketplace

7. Launch!

There are a few ways in which this book admirably fulfills its subtitle, “A 7-Step System for Developing Unexpected and Profitable Ideas.” The authors provide more than 40 concrete examples that support the key ideas of the book and stimulate an optimistic, yet cautionary sensibility (each example is in its own terse section entitled “Case in Point”). Though the rah-rah tone of the book conveys a feeling of naïve optimism at times, this is accompanied by a positive inclination for the reader to believe that there are feasible steps that individuals and organizations can take to bring an idea into the marketplace. And the authors create an up-to-date awareness as they present suggestions that relate to such contemporary concepts as adapting to Gen Y’s mores and learning how Procter & Gamble accomplishes this. But, in painting a large, jam-packed mural, the authors tend to create sketchy scenes. For instance, “Border Crossing” and “Benchmarking” are covered in one paragraph each in a chapter on “The New Rules.”  The entire chapter on “Due Diligence” has a two-page equivalency.

This reviewer will fudge a bit on rating the book. If you’re a savvy leader, already successfully promoting innovation as an entrepreneur or intrapreneur, then the book is a two. But if you’re a newcomer to discovering and implementing useful, profitable ways of getting a great idea into the market place then it’s a five.