Cover image for Innovation you : four steps to becoming new and improved
Innovation you : four steps to becoming new and improved
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Ballantine Books, c2011.
Physical Description:
xx, 228 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book 158.1 DEG 1 1

On Order



In today's frenetic, uncertain world, the "same old, same old" routines are perfect ways to go nowhere fast. What has worked for you before--professionally or personally--no longer gets results. Whether you've been downsized, reached the end of a long relationship, or found yourself questioning where you are in life, it's clear you need to change. To innovate. Make it new. Make yourself new. Now, in this invaluable book, the world-renowned "Dean of Innovation," Jeff DeGraff, shares his tried-and-true techniques on how to reinvent yourself--creatively and with maximum impact.

Innovation You reveals DeGraff's unique four-step program to bolster your ingenuity and remake your life. From forging ahead in a new career to losing weight to finally pursuing that long-held dream, DeGraff's strategies are effective and easy to follow. Inside you will learn to
* Rethink Innovation: Find ways to think outside the box, seek out diverse opinions, and pay attention to the next great trend.
* Rethink Your Approach: Use the Competing Values Framework to identify your natural innovation profile--do you compete, collaborate, create, or control?--and then deliberately draw from the other styles to augment your usual tactics.
* Rethink Your Methods: Put your reinvention plan in motion--set specific, realistic, and meaningful targets, cultivate relationships with relevant mentors and experts, and try alternate methods to achieve your goals.
* Rethink the Journey: Understand that innovation is a process and that progress comes in cycles rather than a quick straight line. Accept uncertainty, question assumptions, and acknowledge areas where you can improve.
Full of invigorating ideas, engaging anecdotes, practical wisdom, and inspiring success stories, Innovation You is your personal road map to reach your highest potential--and experience a bold new way of living.

Author Notes

Greg Lichtenberg graduated from Harvard College and the Iowa Writers' Workshop and has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, The Johns Hopkins University, and the Gotham Writers' Workshop. His essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine and Fence. He lives with his wife in New York City and is at work on a novel.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

For more than 20 years, Degraff (Leading Innovation) has taught innovation and creativity to students at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and has consulted on the same topics to global powerhouses like American Airlines, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Pfizer, and Toyota, earning the moniker "Dean of Innovation." He aims his message at the general reader who wishes to change something in his or her life. Sharing proven techniques for thinking imaginatively, Degraff divides the book into four sections designed to help the reader see how to inject creativity into his or her life, to learn helpful approaches to innovation, how to test and experiment, and how to understand the long-term cycles that drive innovation. Throughout, Degraff illustrates his points with useful illustrations ranging from the companies he's worked with to individuals he has taught, observed, or known in his personal life. At heart a self-help book, this work uses business thinking to help the reader take the emotion out of the problem, consider how to identify his or her style of innovation as well as the best ways to consider the desired change. A useful guide to thinking about career changes, entrepreneurial leaps, or general self-improvement, Degraff's newest work is a must-read for those contemplating change and wanting to make more creative decisions. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.



9780345530691|excerpt DeGraff / INNOVATIVE YOU chapter one Creativize Henry Martin is important to me for what may seem a humble reason. A chemist in Buffalo, New York, in the mid-­twentieth century, Martin changed dry cleaning forever when he created a cleaning solvent that wouldn't burst into flames. Until 1949, the storefronts that people called "dry cleaners" were only pick-­up and drop-­off sites. The chemicals used to clean clothes were so dangerous that the actual cleaning had to be done in the safety of a factory, where a fire could be contained. But Martin's nonflammable solvent meant that dry cleaning could be done where the customers were. This new approach, "Martinizing," saved customers days of waiting and gave Martin's stores an advantage over every competitor. In a similar way, the first step toward innovating your own life is to look for the opportunities to add creativity to each element of what you do--­not just sending out for creativity like the old dry cleaners used to send out their clothes to the factory, but adding in creativity yourself where you live and work. Martinizing made dry cleaning safe, ordinary, everyday--­and hugely successful. That's what creativity needs to be in your life. The innovation visionary Marshall McLuhan made the point that innovation is not a thing. It's an attribute or quality: An innovation is anything that is enhanced--­made better or new. To see what I mean, pick up any business magazine. You are likely to find examples of the most innovative companies in the world. But look a little closer and you will find that some of these businesses excel at marketing, while others excel at technology development, and yet others don't seem to do anything revolutionary, but they are great at increasing revenues. The point is that these examples are all over the place, because innovation is something you can do in different forms, at different times, in different places. If it makes your business (or your life) better relative to your own idea of what better would be, it's an innovation. Sometimes the biggest innovations are actually steps backward into the past, like the local food movement, in which well-­off people with access to a global transportation network that can bring them food from anywhere in the world try as hard as they can to eat the food grown right nearby, as farming people did when there were no planes, trains, or automobiles. Innovation is any creative improvement, and "creativizing" can improve any area of your life. Shandra creativized when she received an unexpected medical diagnosis: Cancer. Aggressive tumors. Odds no better than fifty-­fifty. All she could think at first was, This wasn't supposed to happen. She had lived through a difficult divorce and was raising three children on her own. After years of night school and crummy jobs, she had found a position at a company that saw the good in her. She had advanced quickly to become an executive secretary. Now everything she had built for her family, from the condo in the good school district to the college tuition savings accounts to the possibility of retiring to watch over future grandchildren was all at risk. T he doctor spoke compassionately and made his recommendations. A patient like this should start chemotherapy right away. He offered a list of support groups to help with the emotional strain. Yet Shandra felt she'd been given a death sentence. When she finally got home, she couldn't bear to speak to her children. She paid the sitter, made her way upstairs, and climbed into bed. The next day, Shandra went to a support group of cancer patients in treatment, but it only made her feel more afraid and helpless. Resigned to her fate, she called her family together. There was a long silence after the announcement. Finally her oldest daughter spoke up. "You taught all of us that anything may be possible as long as we were willing to take responsibility for giving our best," she said. "I want to believe you're due for a miracle. We are here with you to help you in any way we can." After that emotional homecoming, the family pulled together. If conventional medicine only gave Shandra a fifty-­fifty chance, what alternatives could they find? If the support group wasn't enough, where could she find even more support? Together they began making phone calls, searching the Internet, reading books, and holding regular kitchen-­table conclaves. They knew the cancer was not in their control, but few situations are. Together they set out to do what innovators everywhere try to do: improve the odds, both for a good outcome and for a better experience for Shandra, no matter what happened. The following week, Shandra visited a few different specialists, including Dr. Li, who was highly regarded for both conventional and Eastern medical practices. In his office, she took a seat near the comforting babble of a tranquillity fountain. The attendant brought an elegant tea tray. Then the doctor pulled up a chair and quietly introduced himself. He explained his approach of partnering with patients because only they really know what their body needs. At the next kitchen-­table gathering, Shandra said she believed that Dr. Li could help her find her own way to healing. Along with regular checkups and a regimen of chemotherapy, the program would include meditation, Chinese herbal remedies, and daily Qigong exercises. The treatment was disruptive and hard to endure. At the start of each session with Dr. Li, Shandra would relate which treatments she thought were working and which were not. The doctor weighed her impressions as he adjusted her program week by week. She found meditation helpful but wanted to add some traditional prayers, as well as ones she had written, to incorporate her deep faith. Months later, after follow-­up tests, Dr. Li announced that Shandra showed no more traces of the disease. He cautioned her to remain ever vigilant and wished her well. She was deeply grateful and returned to work, but now devoted time each day to the regimen she had created to maintain her health. Shandra was fortunate, but she had also done what she could to create her own good luck by approaching her challenge like a master innovator. Her first doctor had offered her the standard "recipe"--­chemotherapy, a hospital-­based support group, and waiting. But Shandra went beyond the standard approach. What I admired so much was not that she tried alternative medicine--­lots of people do that--­but that she found ways to add her own creativity at every step. She took her doctor's advice but added her own research as well. She joined the hospital's support group but also established a second support group from her community of family and friends. She took the conventional Western medical approach and added Eastern medicine. She prayed, which had always been a support for her, but she added meditation and visualization, techniques she had never tried. For every element of her treatment, she added new, creative ingredients and methods. She "creativized."  People who don't creativize may never know what they're missing. The price of not creativizing comes in missed opportunities to grow and thrive, but if you miss those opportunities you may have no way to know what, specifically, was lost. Had Reuters not created Reuters Market Light, the company might never have realized that its international sales were far below their potential. They only found answers by improvising. They only discovered the possibility of success by creating it. How? The key to creativizing is to open up your thinking to see your true situation and your range of possible responses in the widest possible way. Most people facing a crisis or opportunity will start out with an idea or two about what's wrong and what they could do differently. They'll probably deny the situation for as long as they can. Then maybe they'll get a little advice. If they're not desperate, they'll probably procrastinate. When they finally do feel desperate, they often leap at any chance that comes along. But when you creativize, the goal is to see a much wider range of possibilities. This takes some courage, because to begin, you have to take an honest look at where things stand now. Often--­not always, as we'll see, but often--­things look pretty grim. Your old methods have stopped working and you have no guarantees about what could take their place. The weather is threatening. You're already working hard. It may feel like you have no options at all. No one is coming to save you. So what can you do? Look around, and keep your eyes open. Find out what exactly are the threats that require you to innovate. Where are the new areas of growth that could sustain you and improve your life? How are your assumptions about creativity holding you back? What is keeping you from finding the people and the trends that can help you make the changes you need? These are the questions we'll address here in Step I. It's a preparatory step, in which you develop the skills and habits you will need on your innovation journey. By the time you reach Step II, you may feel that instead of seeing too few options for achieving any specific change you would like in your life, now you will be creativizing too many. I hear this from my business students sometimes. We look at a case together and I start asking questions they don't expect. I talk about people and factors that weren't mentioned in the case. And they say: Wait! You're creating too many options! It feels like chaos. I tell them: No, it's not chaos. It's possibility. This is what it feels like when you take off the blinders and see possibility all around. You don't have to follow up on every single one. In fact, later on in this process we'll learn ways to winnow and to test the possibilities to find the ones that are worth your while to test. But as you begin to creativize, if you feel overwhelmed with possibility, good. So many people start to change when they feel that life has backed them into a corner or when they feel tapped out of ideas or energy or are at a loss. Only when you realize you're surrounded by possibility--­practical, start-­today possibility--­will you be ready for the later parts of the book, which guide you to select the best overall approach for reaching your goals, and then to find the specific methods that will turn your new approach into satisfying results. Excerpted from Innovation You: Four Steps to Becoming New and Improved by Jeff Degraff, Greg Lichtenberg All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. XIII
step I Rethink Innovation
chapter 1 Creativizep. 6
chapter 2 There Is No Data on the Future-Where We Growp. 12
chapter 3 You are Not the Weatherp. 16
chapter 4 We Grow When Our Life Sucks or When We're on a Rollp. 21
chapter 5 Light Your Fire Where the Sparks of Diversity Flyp. 27
chapter 6 The Cavalry Isn't Comingp. 31
chapter 7 Ride What Isn't Comingp. 36
chapter 8 Efficiency Can Kill You the 20-80 Rulep. 41
step II Revise Your Approch With Prismatic Thinking
chapter 9 Think Around the Colorsp. 50
chapter 10 Stacks the Russian Nesting Dollsp. 64
chapter 11 How You Innovate Is What You Innovatep. 73
chapter 12 The Most Powerfull Approach to Innovationp. 80
chapter 13 Create Capacity-Empty the Bagp. 86
chapter 14 Avoid the Negative Zonep. 92
step III Run Your Experiments
chapter 15 Commit to Experimentp. 106
chapter 16 Hedge Now, Optimize Laterp. 108
chapter 17 Deconstruct to Reconstructp. 113
chapter 18 Set High-Quality Targetsp. 115
Chapter 19 Enlist Deep and Diverse Domain Expertisep. 120
chapter 20 Apprentice the Sorcererp. 124
chapter 21 Mater Sodotop. 127
chapter 22 Take Multiple Shots on Goalp. 132
chapter 23 Fail Early, Fail Often, Fail Off-Broadwayp. 137
chapter 24 Show, Don't Tellp. 141
chapter 25 You are the Star Only in Your Own Moviep. 144
chapter 26 The Mongolian Barbecue Effectp. 148
chapter 27 Hide Inside Trojan Horsesp. 150
chapter 29 When Nothing Seems to Workp. 162
chapter 30 Think in Terms of Cycle, Not Linesp. 170
Step IV See The Whole Journey
chapter 31 Welcome Creative Destructionp. 179
chapter 32 Watch For the Off-Ramps and on-Rampsp. 189
chapter 33 We All Hate Changep. 194
chapter 34 Build a Portfolio Lifep. 200
chapter 35 Expect Resistancep. 213
chapter 36 The Giftp. 218
Appendix-Instructions for the Innovation You Assessmentp. 223