Creative Genius by Peter Fisk is a book of ideas and stories of the many breakthroughs that innovative individuals have achieved in the past 2000 years. Creative Genius describes itself as an ‘innovation guide’, a ‘genius lab’ and also an ‘inspirational’ set of tools. With the format of the book actually being rather peculiar, I think the term ‘scrapbook’ is probably the best way to capture the essence of this work.
Rather than delivering the always ironic lecture of ‘how to be original and innovative’, Creative Genius attempts a different path – education by induction. Much like the science experiment of it’s namesake, I found that this book takes great pain in telling you one thing, but secretly hopes that while reading and processing, you’ll learn much more. Innovation is of course, an intra-personal thing, and a book cannot be innovative on your behalf. A book won’t craft a business model or develop a new design. Creative Genius may however shift your paradigm and inspire you to take action.
It strikes me that traditional education and training equips you with a standard perspective, a generally accepted view of the world. This view is logical, reasonable and held by most educated individuals. However in the competitive economy of today, how is one to generate a market-leading idea while thinking within the same realm as everyone else?
This paradox can be illustrated in my favourite economist joke:
An economist and his friend are walking down the street when the friend sees a ten dollar bill on the sidewalk.
“Look,” he says, “it’s a ten dollar bill”.
“Nonsense,” says the economist. “If that was a ten dollar bill, someone would have picked it up by now.”
If this book preaches anything, it’s that genuinely groundbreaking ideas in history came from outside the generally accepted truths. Within the ‘safe zone’, as referenced in the joke above; everything that can be thought of has been thought of. Your ability to produce something truly revolutionary or commercially advantageous is unlikely at best.
Enter the 20+ case studies that Creative Genius details and features within it’s pages. These include the exciting story of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, as well as the rise of Nintendo (which originally was a mere trading card company). Reaching further into the past, you’ll read about Burt Rutan and Da Vinci.
But to describe Creative Genius as a short story book would be a discredit. Among the interesting exerpts from history’s brightest and boldest, you’ll find basic concepts of good design, modern marketing the product development process. The larger socio-economic trends are boldly highlighted. These serve as a gentle nudge into progressive thinking. The median age of someone in the developed world was 37 in 2000, but will be 46 in 2050. How will this change your business?
Creative Genius is a ‘different’ kind of read to the standard leadership and management fare I review on Leadership Expert. A book filled with facts and stories and smaller pockets of ‘knowledge’ is different to the direct and instructive management titles such as Traction: Get a Grip on your Business. Creative Genius (Amazon Link, £9.51) serves as a perfect addition to the well-rounded businessperson’s library of knowledge.