Big Little Breakthroughs | Josh Linkner

Summary of: Big Little Breakthroughs: How Small, Everyday Innovations Drive Oversized Results
By: Josh Linkner


Welcome to ‘Big Little Breakthroughs: How Small, Everyday Innovations Drive Oversized Results,’ where the author, Josh Linkner, debunks the myth that innovation is limited to a select gifted few. This summary highlights the four levels of creativity and three forms of innovation that come in different magnitudes. Through exploring these concepts, you’ll learn about the five distinct steps involved in any form of innovation, helping you break down complex processes into more accessible and digestible pieces. Furthermore, you will discover the significance of creative skills in today’s rapidly changing world, as well as eight crucial mindsets borrowed from top innovators that pave the way to everyday breakthroughs.

Unleashing the Innovator Within

Innovation comes from daily practice and experience rather than innate abilities. Imagination is the starting point, but true creativity requires inherent value. Small creative acts lead to frequent successes, which eventually inspire groundbreaking breakthroughs. With the application of skill and reasoning, imaginative ideas can become innovative realities.

Mastering the Art of Innovation

Groundbreaking innovations are not a result of instant ideas, but rather a series of smaller innovative acts that lead to various forms of innovation. Creativity experts, Dr. James C. Kaufman and Dr. Ronald Beghetto, identified three forms of innovation- INNOVATION, Innovation, and innovation. Anyone can engage in these forms, and it’s best to hone each form through practice. To develop an all-caps INNOVATION, start by mastering your skills through a large number of lowercase innovations. The book identifies five parts or steps involved in any invention- Inputs, Sparks, Auditions, Refinements, and Slingshots. These steps help to make innovation less mysterious and more accessible.
In today’s fast-paced world, creative skills are essential as they provide a vital hedge against job loss due to automation, ensure individuals and businesses remain competitive. The book also recommends eight mindsets, drawn from real-world innovators, that guide you to making creative skills and breakthroughs a regular aspect of your life. With just 20 hours of practice, you can grasp the basics of any new skill, including greater creativity. Start committing to honing your innovation muscles today.

Solving Problems with Belief and Empathy

When faced with a challenge, many people are quick to find a simple solution. But Chad Price, an innovator, believes that taking time to study and understand a problem can lead to a more innovative and useful solution. Chad used this approach to tackle the bureaucratic nightmare of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) by creating a better customer experience. Initially, common wisdom suggested that cutting costs was the only way to improve DMV service. But Chad realized that people don’t always visit the nearest DMV location – they go for the best experience. Chad began to create an ideal customer experience and his location started doing double the business of any other DMV in North Carolina.
To solve problems creatively, one should study the issue thoroughly and view it from the perspective of potential clients or customers. This approach requires belief and empathy for others. Conducting research, gathering evidence, and interviewing people for insights can help nourish curiosity and lead to superior problem-solving.

The Power of Getting Started

Top innovators don’t wait for the perfect moment to start, they take initiative and adjust along the way. Lack of experience or overwhelming circumstances should not deter you from pursuing a promising idea. The effort may seem daunting, but taking the first step can lead to success. Biomedical engineers Ayal Lanternari and Asaf Kehat didn’t let their lack of experience in creating baby products stop them from pursuing their idea for a superior baby bottle design. Even though their design and testing process took years, starting before feeling fully prepared significantly shortened their time frame. If you feel stuck or overwhelmed, commit to working on the problem you’re trying to solve for 15 minutes without fearing failure. Lowering the stakes can help you take the first step towards achieving your goal.

The Test Kitchen Mind-set

To maintain innovation, restaurants use test kitchens to experiment with new food, while lawyers run mock trials, and surgeons hone their skills with AI technologies. The author emphasizes that experimentation should be a key aspect of an innovation mind-set. Although these experiments may yield micro-innovations, they may lead to significant ones. The more experiments carried out, the greater the probability of creating something remarkable. It is essential to start small with tests such as the color of a “buy now” button or email-checking frequency. Building a test kitchen requires careful consideration of equipment, people, and literal or figurative ingredients, while A/B testing involves comparing a variable to a control group.

Embodying the Drive for Transformation

LEGO is not just a children’s toy, it’s an example of the innovator’s mindset. From its humble beginnings, LEGO has disrupted the status quo to become an empire. As an innovator, it’s important to never settle for the current system. Instead, break it down, examine closely, and find areas for improvement. This applies to every aspect of work and life, from products to processes. Don’t wait for the system to be displaced, act now to re-imagine and improve it. LEGO embodies the drive for transformation, and it’s up to us to apply it to our own lives.

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