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Faculty & Research


When Your Moon Shots Don’t Take Off: How Science Fiction and Other Unconventional Tools Can Fire the Imagination and Lead to Breakthrough Growth

Journal Article
Many companies looking for breakthroughs struggle to move beyond incremental ideas, because cognitive biases trap people in the status quo and prevent them from seeing big opportunities. But four tactics can help firms overcome biases and think far more creatively: Science fiction - Sci-fi writers have foreseen all kinds of innovations. When Lowe’s invited some in to envision its future, it got ideas for augmented reality phones, service robots, 3-D printing, and other new technologies that boosted sales. Analogies - These can help innovators make big leaps too. For instance, when Charlie Merrill applied the analogy of a supermarket to the brokerage business, he changed the industry. First principles logic - Often it helps to reexamine foundational assumptions and rebuild from the ground up. That’s how Regeneron cut drug development costs 80%. Exaptation - Why do we use something for one purpose and not another? Asking that question led to the creation of the Flex-Foot, a revolutionary prosthetic that doesn’t look anything like a foot but acts like one.

Professor of Strategy