In this bright, informative debut, McKinney, chief technology officer of Hewlett-Packard’s Personal Systems Group, writes that anyone can become an “idea person,” given the right approach and a willingness to work hard.
The most important thing is to ask the right questions—“Killer Questions” that produce new insights into your customers, product and organization, and help trigger ideas. For example: What are the assumptions of my industry? What will my customers want in five years? Who uses my product in ways I never anticipated? Describing at length the kinds of questions that generate new information, McKinney warns that you must be prepared to defend your idea against in-house adversaries (“corporate antibodies”) who are comfortable with the status quo. In a time when businesses need continuous reinvention to survive, many cling to obvious ideas that worked in the past. “Nearly all great ideas require nerve, vision, and guts to get in motion,” writes the author. To help readers identify and act on their best ideas, McKinney details a four-part FIRE program (Focus, Ideation, Rank, Execution), which hones in on the essential aspects of any problem or situation. As opposed to unguided and often fruitless brainstorming, FIRE uses questions to provide a logical and much-needed structure to focus ideation efforts, improve the quality of ideas, rank the ideas so that you know which ones to work on, and then execute the ideas. Offering vivid examples of how his approach has worked at HP and elsewhere, McKinney stresses the need to vigorously question conventional rules and assumptions to generate breakthrough innovations.
Valuable and ready for immediate use.