I received a review copy of Osama A Hashmi's upcoming book, Innovation Thinking Methods for the Modern Entrepreneur. Subtitle: Disciplines of thought that can help you rethink industries and unlock 10x better solutions. It is to be released on 23 March 2016.
It's a short book, meant to be a quick read and guide to start thinking about thinking. Or maybe, more accurately, to get people doing something differently about thinking. (And do so while drinking coffee - a frequent side joke throughout the book. It's hard to fault a guy who likes coffee so much.) The tone is light, but insistent - new ideas don't come about with the kind of thinking that got us where we are now, to paraphrase Einstein.
What is "innovation thinking?" It's in the subtitle and first chapter - creating 10x better solutions. In my mind it is ways of thinking that challenge the status quo. Challenge the assumption that small tweaks are all that you can do. Challenge the belief that the problem is already "solved" or maybe that it "can't be solved." He also explicitly talks about Innovation Thinking as different from incremental improvements and small changes that have become de rigueur in the startup community (i.e. Lean Startup).*
Hashmi uses the book to describe 20 innovation thinking methods - briefly introducing each of them and then providing some examples. The methods ranging from adopting different mindsets and points of view, to framing sentences and techniques, to concepts borrowed from other disciplines. Most of the examples draw from the technology world where Hashmi works, though the methods apply to any industry.
A number of the methods resonated deeply for me in connection with the work I do in Theory of Constraints, particularly the Thinking Processes. The surface of many problems are just the visible symptoms of an underlying system(s). That system consists of many things - the physical world, the policies and practices of the industry, the history of what came before, etc. As I read the book, it struck me that many of the thinking methods seek to understand the system at a deeper level. Changes at the deeper level of the system will have much more significant impact - and are often harder for others to replicate, particularly if they have built themselves into the existing system. I liked how these methods give additional means for digging deeper or trying to understand how the system generates the current effects.
Hashmi doesn't spend time describing the theory or diving into the supporting research for the various thinking methods - this is both an advantage and disadvantage of the book. The advantage is that it keeps the book short and fast, and helps Hashmi maintain his conversational tone throughout. The reader can pick as many or as few of the methods as they want to try them or explore further. The disadvantage for a curious guy like me is that I want to track down those references. Over some coffee, of course.
* Hashmi tries to walk a line here. Lean (and other) methods are not wrong - they can be quite beneficial in the right settings - it's just that in the context of "innovative thinking" the way these methods are employed do not create 10x changes. And of course I have to say that it really depends on how people apply any of these approaches to thinking. Theory of Constraints and Lean can be used to help people think very differently about their world and their situations to create very different results. I also agree if the goal is incremental improvement, that is all one will get, no matter how they are thinking.