Exploiting Chaos: 150 Ways to Spark Innovation During Times of Change by Jeremy Gutsche, Gotham Books, 271 Pages, $20.00, Paperback, September 2009, ISBN 9781592405077
Without a doubt, this is one of the best books on sparking ideas that I have ever read. Jeremy Gutsche has written and designed an excellent book for an uncertain time—a time when all of our instincts scream at us to retreat. Instead, Gutsche all but demands that we act, reminding us that companies such as Disney, CNN, HP, GE, Apple, Sun, Eli Lilly and many more were founded during periods of economic recession.
The great motivational stories are here, from the boiling frog story to a more obscure tale about Smith Corona. You’ll find great motivational quotes here as well, including Edison’s “I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to not make a light bulb.” and Michael Jordan’s “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” And, while we may have heard these before, Gutsche presents the gathered material in an energetic and fresh manner.
Beyond the motivational material, Exploiting Chaos doesn’t serve up the same old examples of innovation and success. Gutsche points out that “IBM, GE, Wal-Mart, Dell, and Southwest Airlines were referenced in 1,304 of the most recent 2,000 Harvard Business Review articles” and states what you’re probably thinking after reading that sentence—“Holy crap! That’s excessive.” Accordingly, Exploiting Chaos brings you more rare examples, applicable to both big businesses and new ventures.
Exploiting Chaos is a different type of business book in terms of design as well. The presentation is truly special. The author explains the reason for this:
Our reading habits have entirely changed in the last decade. Driven by media clutter and our shrinking attention spans, our world has become headline obsessed. Hence, this book is visual and action packed, offering two ways to read:
- Consume the content end-to-end.
- Just read the headlines on each page. They flow together and will help to spark your next big idea.
I read it from cover to cover, but believe that even good skim will have you reaching for a blank piece of paper and pen or a fresh Word document. Get yourself a copy of Exploiting Chaos. It could be the difference going forward.