Why do good teams kill great ideas? Safi Bahcall, a physicist and entrepreneur, reveals a surprising new way of thinking about group behavior that challenges everything we thought we knew about nurturing radical breakthroughs. Drawing on the science of phase transitions, and using stories that range from the hunt for U-boats in WWII to the search for new cancer drugs, Safi shows why teams, companies, or any group with a mission will suddenly change from embracing wild new ideas to rejecting them. Safi describes this new kind of science and shares three techniques that creatives, leaders, and visionaries can use to liberate the ideas trapped inside small and large companies everywhere. Loonshots, a WSJ bestseller, has been translated into 18 languages; recommended by Bill Gates and three Nobel laureates; featured in the WSJ, the Financial Times, Forbes, Scientific American, and the Harvard Business Review; and was selected by Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Pink, Susan Cain, and Adam Grant for the Next Big Idea Club. Senator Bob Kerrey wrote: “If The Da Vinci Code and Freakonomics had a child together, it would be called Loonshots.” Safi received his BA from Harvard summa cum laude and completed his PhD in physics at Stanford. In 2001, he co-founded a biotechnology company developing new drugs for cancer. He led the company’s IPO and served as its CEO for 13 years. In 2008, he was named E&Y New England Biotechnology Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2011, he worked with President Obama’s council of science advisors on the future of national research. Read an excerpt:
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Award-Winning Physicist, Biotech Entrepreneur, and Author of Loonshots
In his instant Wall Street Journal bestselling book Loonshots, SAFI BAHCALL reveals a surprising new way of thinking about innovation and group dynamics, challenging everything we thought we knew about radical breakthroughs. In talks based on his book—which Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman calls “Not to be missed by anyone who wants to understand how ideas change the world”—Bahcall shows how we can stoke innovation, create better leaders, and support “loonshots”: the imperfect but ingenious ideas that have the potential to change the world. As a consultant at McKinsey & Company, and co-founder and CEO of Synta Pharmaceuticals, Safi Bahcall spent nearly two decades of his life bringing big, innovative ideas to fruition. Frequently, this meant assessing and developing loonshots—the widely dismissed ideas whose champions are often written off as crazy. Along the way, he noticed the obstacles that innovators came up against, which seemed to stem from “the mysteries of group behavior.” As he dynamically explains in his book Loonshots, small changes in the structure of a company, rather than in its culture, can transform the behavior of the distinct groups involved, allowing innovation to flourish. Already a Wall Street Journal bestseller, Loonshots was recently dubbed a must-read “for people and organizations who are trying to increase their ability to catalyze more innovation” by Forbes magazine. In his talks, Bahcall shows how the science of phase transitions—think water becoming ice—suggests a useful new way of nurturing radical breakthroughs. He explains the mystery of why good teams—even those with excellent people and the best intentions—can kill great ideas. With humor, history, and a dash of physics, Bahcall offers audiences the tools to become initiators of innovative surprise rather than witnesses to it.