"Creative Genius" by Peter Fisk (Wiley Capstone, 2011)

The Innovation Guide for Business Leaders, Border Crossers and Game Changers

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. 

1. Future back. Escape the limitations of existing markets by designing the future then working backwards to today.

2. World views. Creativity is about perspective, seeing your world through new eyes – children, space, art.

3. Rule breaking. First define all the rules and conventions and then imagine how you could break or invert them.

4. Open and close. Creativity is divergent whilst innovation is also convergent, ensuring creative ideas have impact.

5. Creative fusions. The best solutions often emerge from combinations – atomic ideas into molecular concepts.

6. Open innovation. Customers are collaborative partners in innovation, turning new insights into useful applications.

7. Trickling up. Ideas flow from margins to mainstream, from extreme users, other sectors and emerging markets.

8. Aesthetic design. Memorable design is like nature. It has beauty and purpose, form that follows function.

9. Market vortex. Market entry is just the start, it how you influence and reshape markets that define your destiny

10. 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.

Learn more about the book, training and events at www.CreativeGeniusLive.com ... or buy it now at 44% discount from Amazon 

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"Customer Genius" by Peter Fisk (Wiley Capstone, 2009)

Becoming a customer-centric business

“Hello, I am your customer. Do you see the world like I do? It's simple really. Start with me and everything else follows. Together we can do extraordinary things ...
Are you ready?”

Customers are now in control of our markets, demanding that we do business on their terms. Their expectations are high, and loyalty is rare. They are individual and emotional, well-informed and highly organized. They know what they want, and only accept the best.

“Customer Genius” introduces a 10 step blueprint for building a customer-centric business; proving that the right customer strategies, based on deeper customer insight, driving more compelling propositions and distinctive experiences, can engage those 'wonderful people' we call customers.

1. Outside in. Power has shifted to customers, and business must learn to think and act from the outside in.

2. Bigger picture. Customers see their challenges and solutions more holistically, without sectors or categories.

3. Less is more. Better to attract and retain fewer, more profitable customers than to try to serve everyone.

4. Deep diving. Use more personal immersion to discover what factors really drive attitudes and behaviours.

5. Get personal. People are more irrational and emotional. Focus on the energisers, not just the essentials.

6. Pull don’t push. Don’t sell products, engage people on what matters to them – where, when and how they want.

7. Work together. Collaborative, help people to solve problems and achieve more with co-created solutions.

8. Intuition rules. Throw away the rule book, and enable customer service people to be human and responsive.

9. Word of mouth. Customers are more loyal to each other than any business, so harness the power of advocacy.

10. Future results. Customer metrics are lead indicators, whilst financials only tell you about the past.

Customer Genius is the ultimate "customer" book ... bringing together customer strategy, customer insights, customer propositions, customer experiences and customer relationships. It includes 30 practical tools ranging from market strategy to brand building, value propositions and social networks, plus 50 case studies including

Air Asia ... It symbolises the new entrepreneurial spirit of south-east Asia. CK Pralahad describes the “bottom of the pyramid” as a $5 trillion opportunity. In 2001 Tony Fernandez promptly cashed in his AOL stock options and bought the Kuala Lumpar-based airline. Today it is one of the world’s fastest growing and most profitable airlines, connecting the bustling capitals of the region. Air Asia succeeds by targeting some of the most populous markets in the world with a low-cost business model that also delivering service to match that of nearby Singapore Airlines. In 2008 it became the first long-haul low-cost airline, and Richard Branson was so impressed he took a 20% stake.  

Amazon ... seeks to be “the most customer-centric business on Earth”. Jeff Bezos believes that focus on customers rather than competitors leads to more certain and sustainable growth. However since 1995 his focus was not just selling books but on providing customers with “convenience and speed” in buying almost anything – from toys and music to travel and groceries. In 12 years, revenues have grown from $12million to $12 billion. Innovations such as “look inside” sampling and “one-click” purchases, delivering tracking and self publishing, stayed focused on the customer benefits. As did the radical decision to allow competitive retailers to sell through the site, enabling customers to compare prices and ensure that they get the very best deal.

Zipcars ... thinks and works from the outside in, developing an innovative business model that focuses on cost and convenience first, congestion and carbon emissions second. It targets students and young people as early adopters. Not only Zipcars making people rethink the need for car ownership, but you can instantly have the coolest car to impress your friends. Becoming a “zipster” is easy, register your details online with a membership fee of $50 a year, and then whenever you need a car – for 20 minutes or a month – just spot a Z-space, zap the door with your phone, turn the key, and off you go. From San Francisco to Berlin you will find Zipcars positioned around the streets, located by GPS on your phone, waiting to be driven. 

Zopa ... is an online money exchange, enabling people to lend and borrow money from others around the world. Peer-to-peer lending is simple and direct. The two parties find an interest rate which they agree upon, ensure each others credit worthiness through peer reviews, and then click to transact.  Banks used to thrive on an antiquated model of taking people’s savings and lending it to others. Banks were intermediaries who eventually becoming too greedy, with its sub-prime loans and exotic derivatives running out of control. Zopa, founded in 2005, recognised that there was a different way – that networked technologies could connect people directly with people.

Learn more about the book, training and events at www.CustomerGeniusLive.com ... or buy Customer Genius now at 35% discount from Amazon

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"Marketing Genius" by Peter Fisk (Wiley Capstone 2007)

The left and right-brain of marketing for business success 

Marketing injects the customer insight and creative thinking that gives business its edge. However it must combine this with the analytical and commercial rigour that drives strategy, innovation and profitable growth.

The genius of marketing lies in the ability to connect outside and inside, markets and business, customers and shareholders, creativity and analysis, promises and reality, today and tomorrow. From Apple to Agent Provocateur, Jet Blue and Jones Soda, marketing is a living, evolving practice.

Genius marketers, like Einstein and Picasso, apply intelligence in more imaginative ways. They use their left and right brains to seize the best opportunities, to stand out from the crowd and to lead the business.

1. Be original. Spreadsheets help you focus and optimise, but you need creativity to stand out and move forwards.

2. Redefine markets. Think in terms of customer solutions rather than being blinkered by traditional boundaries.

3. Value not volume. Don’t be a slave to market share, there is often more value in niches than mass markets.

4. Be different. Advantage starts with your value discipline – do you offer best products, best relationships or best price.

5. About you not us. Redefine brands in terms of what you do for customers, reflecting their aspirations, rather than what you do.

6. Propositions not products. Sell propositions based around customer benefits rather than products and their features.  

7. Stories not slogans. Engage people in more relevant narratives that establish context and meaning, engage them in stories.

8. Networks not channels. Connect with physical and virtual communities, collaborating and enabling them to do more.

9. Value-based marketing focuses on markets, segments and products that create the most economic value long-term

10. New marketers work across the business as customer champions, business innovators and growth drivers

Marketing Genius is one of the bestselling marketing books of the last three years, and has been translated into 28 languages. It includes 30 practical tools ranging from market strategy to brand building, value propositions and social networks, plus 30 case studies including

Crocs ... Three friends decide to go sailing. They take off from the r stressful jobs, and head for a week in the Caribbean. Unpacking their bags, one shows off his new foam clogs he had bought in Canada. As the days, waves and beers go by, they imagine setting up their own business – how about making those shoes, comfortable, lightweight, non-slip and very strong. Crocs were an instant hit – the ultimate boat shoe, but also for nurses, chefs and kids too. Brad Pitt and Britney Speers adopted them, and they were suddenly fashionable as well as functional. Sales were phenomenal, selling 20 million pairs worldwide in the first three years. Loved by many, hated by others, a billion dollar IPO in 2006 also gave the guys more time to go sailing again too

Diesel ... “Diesel is not my company – it is my life” proclaims Renzo Rosso, founder of the hippest jeans brand on the planet. Up in Italy’s Marostica Hills, at Diesel Farm, he sips his espresso whilst considering the latest designs for “successful living”, be it in the form of clothing or footwear, jewellery or fragrances. There is even Diesel wines and olive oils, from Rosso’s own vineyard. Diesel makes cool look easy, but its a constant process of evolution, spotting and setting the trends. The brand has evolved from “greasy rockability” in the eighties to “conscious hedonism”, shifting audiences and adjusting its proposition over time. With 320 stores in 80 countries delivering over Euro 1.5 billion sales, then the Italian entrepreneur is really enjoying his life. 

Jones Soda ... If you want to take on market leaders like Coca-Cola then imitation is unlikely to work. “Run with the little guy” says the tagline, yet Jones Soda has become a big story for much more than its drinks. “Nobody needs my s**t, nobody even wants it, but they love my s**t” says maverick founder Peter van Stolk. He emotionally connects with customers my letting them choose the flavours – “turkey and gravy” being a favourite – by making every single label an uploaded customer photo, and by targeting distribution channels that are anything but ordinary – music stores, surf shacks and tattoo parlours. Jones is shaking up the American soda market on a shoestring, and customers love it.

Diageo ... “Every adult adores at least one of our brands” is the single-minded goals of the world’s leading drinks business. As well as Guinness, Diageo ‘s portfolio includes Smirnoff and Johnnie Walker, Baileys and Jose Cervo. However Diageo seeks more than market leadership, publicly ranking itself against a cross-sector peer group in terms of its total shareholder returns (it lies just ahead of Unilever, but still well behind P&G and Yum!) “100% marketing” is the brand teams way of achieving this, recognising that Lord Leverhulme’s “half of marketing is wasted” is no longer acceptable. It takes a disciplined, value-based approach to managing its portfolio, focusing its proposition, and integrating its media mix, making marketing the value engine of the whole business. 

Learn more about the book, events and training at www.MarketingGeniusLive.com or buy it now at 35% discount from Amazon 

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"Business Genius" by Peter Fisk  (Wiley Capstone 2008)

A more inspired approach to strategy, leadership and change

How do you lead a business in turbulent times, when change is essential but the destination is uncertain? What kind of strategy provides focus and agility, to create extraordinary value to all stakeholders in the long-term, whilst still succeeding in the short-term.

Ultimately a business is about growth – sustainable, profitable growth. As the organisation evolves how does it drive and accelerate this growth? In the past we focused on core capabilities, today we are driven by opportunities which we address through partnerships across continents and sectors.

“Business Genius“ is about strategy and leadership, change and performance. It describes how to get the right balance personally and organisationally – left and right brain, outside in and inside out, future back and now forward, radical ideas and practical action ... A more inspired approach to businessHow to drive profitable growth in more intelligent and imaginative ways ... combining the entreprenuerial passion of start-ups with the commercial rigour of large enterprises ... for everyone who seeks the inspiration to think and act differently.

1. Accelerating growth. Driven by market opportunities not capabilities, doing more for customers not more products.

2. Business lifestages. From entrepreneur to corporation, seven phases in the evolution of business and leadership

3. Economic value. Value is what matters most, based on future expectations of  profitability, growth and risk.

4. Purpose not profit. Business needs a purpose beyond profit, the way in which it  ultimately makes people lives better.

5. Smarter strategies. Strategy is about choices – deciding where in the world, how and what will maximise value

6. Business innovation. Every aspect of business can  improve – from products and processes to business models.

7. Energy and passion. Fast workplaces and creative workstyles transform attitudes more than rules or rewards.

8. Leaders and managers. Managers control processes, whilst leaders inspire people. You need to do both.

9. Managing change. Change with a purpose in mind. Make it matter, make it focused, make it happen, and make it stick.

10. Delivering results. Value creation is driven short and long-term, combining business, market and personal impacts.

Business Genius offers a more inspired approach to strategy and leadership for large and small companies. It includes 40 practical tools ranging from strategic planning to business models, leadership development and change management, plus 40 case studies including

Google ... “Googol”, the mathematical term for 1 followed by 100 zeros, symbolises the scale of the ambition of Larry Page and Sergey Brin to “organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. “The perfect Q&A machine” says Page. Yet with email and shopping, software and YouTube, Google sees itself as much more than a search engine. The secret, however, is not in the algorithms but in the people. “Googlers” love working at Googleplex, now officially one of the world’s “best places to work”. The environment is exhilarating and the perks are extraordinary. From virtual reality to gourmet restaurants, free bikes and weekly t-shirts, crazy ideas time and professional development, it really is an inspiring place.

Li & Fung ... London, Paris, New York. Walk through the fashion malls, and around 35% of the retailers and brand names will have a shared secret – Li & Fung, the world’s leading virtual supply chain. Dream up a new collection, and the Chinese company will find companies to design, source, manufacture, distribute, advertise, merchandise, and even run your back office for you. Founded in 1906 in Guangzhou, and now headquartered in Hong Kong, Li & Fung is not an enormous Asian factory churning out cheap clothes. Its a smart “invisible” business that has the networks to help you do every aspect of business faster, cheaper and better. With $7 billion revenues and offices in 70 countries, it offers a new business model for a “flat world”.

Proctor & Gamble ... “The consumer is boss” proclaimed AJ Lafley as introducing himself as the new CEO. It sounded, he admitted, “a little like Sesame Street” but sometimes you need simple message to have an impact. For the Cincinnati business, famous for brands like Crest, Tide and Pampers, it was revolutionary. For the last 165 years, P&G scientists drove innovations, and products were king. Lafley started about transforming the business, reorganising around customers, collaborating with them in new “sense and respond” innovation processes. Office walls were torn down, and half his senior managers were replaced, then acquisitions followed, including $54 billion for Gillette ... turning P&G into a virtual brand-owning company, with consumers at its core.

Umpqua Bank ... Umpqua is a bank like no other. For 43 years its 6 branches served the lumberjacks of Oregon state. Until its CEO died. Then Ray Davis arrived, and decided that Umpqua had to change or die too. Instead of looking to big banks, he looked to Starbucks for new store designs, Gap for product design, Ritz Carlton for customer service training. And he recruited their people too. “Welcome to the world’s greatest bank” says the sign as you enter its boutique stores. Funky music, leather sofas and espresso bar, free wifi and magazines. Bring your friends, stay as long as you like. This is banking designed around customers, and one that Davis has grown from $140m to $6bn in 10 years.

Learn more about the book, training and events at www.BusinessGeniusLive.com ... or buy it now at 30% discount from Amazon

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"People Planet Profit" by Peter Fisk (Kogan Page 2010)

Embracing sustainability for smarter innovation and business growth 

Sustainability is the best opportunity for business to drive smarter innovation and profitable growth. The book explores how to address social and environmental challenges through customers and brands in a way that has more impact than politicians or environmentalists ever could. It introduces a more inspired, more balanced approach to business. Full of case studies and practical tools, it is the essential guide for managers.

People do not trust business. They increasingly see companies as irresponsible, greedy and inhuman. Climate change and economic downturn have accelerated new expectations. Businesses need to reengage people, to understand their new priorities, rethink their role and propositions, work in new ways, and enable people to do more themselves.  Resolving the many paradoxes faced by customers who want the best things but also to do “the right thing” and business leaders who want to grow but in more responsible ways.

There are many books about sustainability - mostly around the worthy themes of "reduce, recycle, reuse". However this goes beyond that initial phases to "rethink" business.

It is positive not negative, about opportunities not problems, driven by creativity not compliance, a whole business challenge, not left to a few people. It is about connecting social, environment and economic challenges, to achieve a new balance, that is more different from competitors and inspiring your people. And its about building brands in way that builds capacity rather than just making sales, enabling people to do more for themselves and their worlds, rather than just buy your product or service.

1: Purpose beyond Profits : Business should be about making people’s lives better, defining an inspiring purpose and turning promises into reality.

2: Strategies for Growth : Business strategy must focus on finding markets with sustainable growth, creating differentiation by doing good and new business models for a new world.

3: Inspiring Leadership : Leaders of the new business world are the catalysts of change, the conscience of a better business, and facilitators of rethinking and innovation. 

4: Conscience Consumers : There is a new consumer agenda, based around me, my world, and the world. Business must create more capacity, enabling people to do more.

5: Sustainable Innovation : Resolving the paradox between what people dream of, and what is good for all of us, between what makes most money and what is the right thing to do.

6: Engaging consumers : People are engaged through enlightened dialogue, building networks to enable collaborative actions, and delivering a more authentic consumer experience

7: Sustainable Operations : Businesses must learn to work better together - good sourcing, transporting and producing, embracing the power of sustainable energy and technology.
8: Delivering Performance : Certification, labels and sustainable impacts, linking sustainability to business results, managing business performance and reputation 

9: Transforming Business : Making sustainable change happen, starting by articulating a better case for change, commercial and caring, and managing the implementation 

10: Sustainable Futures : Leading in the new business world is about sustainable innovation and lifestyles, where business and brands are the new force for positive change

The book begins with a manifesto for business leaders ... "Leaders of business. This is your wake-up call. You’ve been living on borrowed time. Raping the natural world of its resources, and leaving a toxic mess in its place. These weather patterns are not freaks, they are the world you have created. Blinding the man on the street with your superficial innovations and image.
What about the sweatshops, the emissions, the packaging, the greed? It doesn’t look good" 

The book ends with a vision of the future business leader, Joachim Cruz, the CEO of BlueSky, an innovative travel business based in Copenhagen. He embraces the new agendas, the new technologies, the new capital markets. But he also has time to smile, to pick up his kids from school, and sit back and enjoy his home-grown glass of Tempranillo. 

Learn more about the book, training and events at www.PeopleandPlanetandProfit.com  or buy it now at 40% discount from Amazon

Download People Planet Profit : The Manifesto

Download People Planet Profit : The 7 Transformations

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Download People Planet Profit : The Executive Development Programme

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All books published in partnership with my publishing agent MayerBenham

© The Genius Works Limited 2013