Surprise! Surprises are only fun if they are the good kind; winning the lottery, walking out on Christmas day to a beautiful Lexus with a big red bow or just coming home from a long hard day to clean and folded laundry. But there is something more to the idea of surprises; they are a critical component of innovation and success if only we could learn to harness them.
This is the message of my latest summer read, a new book called Leapfrogging: Harness the Power of Surprise for Business Breakthroughs by Soren Kaplan (@sorenkaplan).
The quickest way to get to the core of Leapfrogging is to give you the definition that sits on Soren Kaplan’s Twitter profile and the first page of the introduction:
“Leapfrogging is about changing the game—creating or doing something radically new or different that produces a significant leap forward.”
Hmmm, sounds a little like innovation to me – maybe it’s innovation for the new world of work.
Early in the book, Kaplan gives us his philosophy on Leapfrogging, surprises and their connection to breakthroughs – here are a couple of them:
Business breakthroughs deliver surprise: Our brains are wired to appreciate positive surprise. Great ideas surprise us with a strong dose of remarkable newness in ways that add value to our lives and challenge our assumptions about what we thought possible.
Surprises are strategic tools that drive breakthroughs. By proactively seeking out and using surprises as “guideposts” when they occur, we can gain new insights, generate ideas and discover new directions.
This is the core message of the book and it’s supported by Kaplan’s “LEAP” process which stands for:
Listen – Start with yourself and not the market. All the market research in the world can actually hinder innovation.
Explore – Go outside to stretch the inside. Our blind spots – or the areas that we don’t know, that we don’t know , are holding us back from breakthroughs. Once we uncover these blind spots, our minds are opened up to see things differently.
Act – Take small simple steps again and again and again. Don’t assume that your breakthrough will come from one big brilliant idea. Take small steps toward your goal.
Persist – Take the surprise out of failure. You can’t succeed without failing. In fact, failure is mandatory, especially if you are creating something new and different. The world isn’t structured for this new thing you are creating. So stop being surprised that you failed. YAY for failure!
Seize – Make the journey part of the surprising destination. Focus on your bigger purpose and practice humility. That way you’ll see the road signs that will take you where the breakthrough is.
Soren Kaplan is a Living Leapfrogger
Soren Kaplan is the Founder and Managing Principal of InnovationPoint. He leads strategic initiatives and provides leadership development for organizations that include Colgate-Palmolive, Disney, Pepsi, Visa and many more familiar brands. He is also and Adjunct Professor within Imagineering Academy and NHTC Breda University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands.
We meet our author in the beginning of the book as he’s headed into a Paris café to write this book. At the time it was still an idea about how business owners and companies create business breakthroughs. That’s when he has a leapfrogging moment – right there in the café! That’s when I realize that he’s not just researching and writing about a topic, but actually living it and allowing his insights to impact how he lives in the world.
Over the course of his research with major organizations and his experience in the field, he’s outlined a process and a way of behaving in the world that makes transforms surprises into breakthroughs and breakthroughs into innovations.
Why Read This Book?
Aside from the fact that it is interesting and entertaining, you’ll want to read this book because it will have you reflecting on all the different ways that you are disrupting the breakthrough process for yourself. The start of each chapter has the top ideas frontloaded so that you can reflect on the key points as you read through the case studies.
You’ll also find reflective “questions to consider” at the end of chapters and sections that you can answer for yourself, in a journal or along with your team.
I’d recommend this book to any small business team or corporate team. It’s a book worth reading as a group and talking about. I think that teams will uncover a handful of practices and strategies that they can use inside their organizations that, when put into practice, will create breakthroughs and innovations that will take their business forward in any economy.