ALIEN Thinking Summary By Cyril Bouquet, Jean-Louis Barsoux and Michael Wade

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ALIEN Thinking (2021) is the ultimate guide to having amazing ideas.

It helps you train your brain to come up with brilliant concepts out of thin air, empowering you to innovate in any situation.

This book doesn't simply give readers inspiration, but helps them build up five key skills that make it easier for them to think like geniuses.

With ALIEN Thinking, anyone can find success and push their creativity to its limits!

ALIEN Thinking

Book Name: ALIEN Thinking (The Unconventional Path to Breakthrough Ideas)

Author(s): Cyril Bouquet, Jean-Louis Barsoux and Michael Wade

Rating: 4/5

Reading Time: 18 Minutes

Categories: Career & Success

Author Bio

The authors of the ALIEN Thinking book, Cyril Bouquet, Jean-Louis Barsoux, and Michael Wade, are professors of innovation and strategy at the Institute of Management Development in Switzerland.

They have worked with numerous companies and organizations to formulate strategic ideas that bring success.

Their expertise has also enabled them to provide invaluable advice and assistance to start-ups, state agencies, and other major entities in need of expert counsel.

Their collective expertise makes them uniquely qualified to present a guidebook on how to think in ways that promote innovation.

5 Steps to Cultivating Insightful Ideas and Becoming an Idea Machine

Insightful Ideas

In ALIEN Thinking, you’ll learn how to make great ideas a habit.

The book lays out a five-step plan designed to help you produce brilliant ideas at will.

Within this plan are insightful anecdotes from the business world and practical advice that reveals the thinking styles that drive all creative leaps.

By mastering this process of innovative thought, you can learn to cultivate inspiration easily on an ongoing basis.

From understanding how a wealthy Renaissance family encouraged imagination, to seeing how the CEO of Logitech fosters disruptive ideas, and what edible cutlery says about paying attention—you’ll gain invaluable tips for having great ideas more regularly.

Make great ideas a habit with the information in ALIEN Thinking!

Cultivating Fresh Perspectives to Solve Old Problems

Problem-solving requires creativity and out-of-the-box thinking.

Narayana Peesapaty, in his quest to solve India’s groundwater crisis, approached the problem with a different perspective.

He realized that the farmers were using more water than necessary because there was no incentive for them to try to conserve it due to government subsidies on electricity.

Rather than simply advocating for less water consumption, Peesapaty recognized that he had to contribute in a different way if he wanted to change the market dynamic and see results – something anyone working on problem solving could learn from.

So rather than encouraging farmers to grow millet, as others were suggesting, he developed a way of turning millet into cutlery.

By turning this type of grain into a convenient product widely accepted by customers, he essentially created an incentive for farmers to switch from growing rice to growing millet instead.

Peesapaty’s approach reminds us that success often comes from looking at problems with fresh eyes; finding unique solutions can help us break through even the toughest challenges.

For those stuck in their ways in companies or organizations, one way of doing this is by studying your most innovative customers and understanding their needs better; IKEA designers have capitalized on this strategy hugely successful over the years.

To get the best result when tackling any issue, it is important to remember this lesson – approaching problems with fresh eyes often yields creative solutions!

Take a Step Back from Your Problems to Solve Them Effectively


When it comes to challenging problems, sometimes a change in perspective is needed.

This is what Dr.

Mathias Döpfner realized when he saw that his company, Axel Springer, was still stuck in its old ways of thinking.

In 2006, Döpfner had made a bold announcement: within ten years, digital revenue would account for over 50 percent of the firm’s total turnover – an ambitious goal considering digital sales only made up a single-figure percentage at the time.

To inspire executives and managers to think differently, Döpfner settled on an unorthodox solution – sending his top executives on a trip to California to rub shoulders with influential people in younger industries and absorb their creative energy and enthusiasm.

The impact of this approach was clear – within ten years, digital income accounted for 60 percent of Axel Springer’s revenues and profits.

This example speaks to the importance of taking a step back from our problems in order to gain fresh insight into how we can address them.

We don’t have to jet across the US or even leave home in order to come up with new perspectives – small moments of focus and contemplation can be just as effective.

Taking stock of these moments gives us the opportunity not only shift our view but reshape our normal frames of reference and encourage innovative thinking.

The Power of Imagination: How the Medici Effect Revitalized Stora Enso

Stora Enso, a Scandinavian paper giant, found itself struggling to adapt to the changing times in 2011.

It needed new ideas and imaginative thinking if it was going to survive.

CEO Jouko Karvinen realized that the company’s thinking had gone stale, so he reached out to some authors who suggested they needed to bring more people on board with different perspectives and skillsets – they needed the Medici Effect.

The Medici Effect is an idea coined by Frans Johansson, describing how ideas proliferate when diverse and creative minds are brought together.

Stora Enso took this concept and created the Pathfinder program, which consists of a diverse team from varying levels of experience across the organization on a six-week trip abroad.

They were tasked to come back with revolutionary ideas for the company – and they did just that!

Ultimately, what Stora Enso realized was that in order to generate innovative ideas and solutions, they had to tap into the power of imagination and creativity.

This can only be done when different perspectives are considered – something that often gets lost in traditional ways of working within ruts or established patterns of thought.

So if you want your organization or project to achieve great things – rediscovering your individual or collective imaginative potential is key!

The Lesson of SNCF: Experimentation Is Key to Developing Breakthrough Ideas


Experimentation is an essential part of creating breakthrough ideas.

This was proven by SNCF, a giant French railway company that found itself in the face of a challenging situation.

SNCF had become slow and bloated, unable to compete with the likes of cheap flights, intercity buses, and carpooling – leaving them facing customers losses.

In order to reverse this trend, the company held a two-day event for their top 650 executives and dedicated it entirely to exploring new, experimental ideas.

They got feedback from their colleagues on the potential plans and then had six months to refine them into proposals.

By doing so, they were able to adopt a service called TGV Max that was inspired by cell phone companies’ unlimited access plans; allowing young people to use off-peak trains for a flat fee of €79 per month.

This proves that experimentation is key in finding new solutions to complicated problems.

Protecting Your Ideas from the Pull of Organizational Gravity

It is not enough to merely have a good idea in order to be successful; you need to protect your innovative ideas and give them a fighting chance.

Bracken Darrell, CEO at Logitech, understood the need to guard new thoughts and innovations against the “pull of organizational gravity”–the power of the status quo that keeps fresh notions from taking off.

To fight this force, he separated Logitech into 27 smaller businesses modeled after startups, creating an environment that inspired creativity and initiative-taking.

Additionally, it was part of Darrell’s mission to listen to pioneers and disruptive thinkers who might otherwise feel unheard.

This trust and support for innovative minds has opened the floodgates to the possibilities within Logitech.

If you are unfortunately not situated in such an encouraging atmosphere, there are still measures you can take to maximize the potential of acceptance for your proposal.

For instance, you should emphasize how it connects with past successes and aligns with current objectives and beliefs of the organization.

This way, it is easier to introduce your radical concept without it being immediately rejected.

The ALIEN Method Can Help You Tap Into Your Creativity and Generate Great Ideas

The ALIEN method is an acronym that stands for Attention, Levitation, Imagination, Experimentation, and Navigation.

When used together, these five techniques can help you generate great ideas any time.

Using the ALIEN technique doesn’t require any magical powers; it simply allows you to rediscover the creative abilities that you already have.

It helps break away from your existing patterns of thinking and encourages out-of-the box solutions.

It’s natural to feel some resistance or fear when using the ALIEN technique when it comes to deviating from habitual ways of thinking; however all that anxiety can be channelled into refining your idea.

Instead of being a roadblock, let this extra tool help hone your plans even more.

Wrap Up

The ALIEN thinking book delivers a powerful final message about how to come up with great ideas.

It is encouraging us to use the ALIEN technique to disrupt our everyday way of thinking and make solving problems second nature.

The book also offers actionable advice – leveraging technology and data to overcome any biases you might have in your ways of seeing the world and identifying potential blind spots.

This means relying on objective data and tech to form hypotheses, reality-test your assumptions, and get a better picture of what’s going on.

By doing this, any potential major miscalculations can be detected at an early stage, instead of after months or even years have passed.

With this in mind, it’s clear that making good use of data and technology is the best way to unlock effective problem-solving skills and come up with great ideas more easily.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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