Foreward

Looking back, boo.com was the start of it all. Not many books will begin like that.

But boo.com was the peak of the first dot.com bubble, and that — in turn — was when the world of business which we all occupy changed forever.

Before boo and the boom, the comings and goings of big companies were less dramatic — more like the drifting of continents than the surging of armies.

Now, 15 years later, we can see that tech didn’t just change our lives; it also changed forever the pace of businesses.

Seemingly overnight, new markets would displace old. A company you’d never heard of would get a billion-dollar valuation on a stock market you’d also never heard of. Your kids would introduce you to a million-person online phenomenon. Bookshelves filled with apocalyptic business tomes. CEOs had to have an innovation agenda.

Tom was with me back then too. We were working at the heart of the new beast — in the best digital agency in London — learning and then deploying the craft of this new age to our clients’ advantage.

And then our industry, like those of our clients, became violently different. And so the idea came to do something new. And not just once. We’d try to do something new every day. We’d start an innovation agency. At the time, that was a radical thought.

And that was what Fluxx was all about. Find a client that wants to change, that knows that today’s certainties aren’t good enough anymore, and help them find their tomorrow.

We’ve all read the great books on innovation — Christensen, Kelley, Reis — but Tom’s book is different. He has set out to help you understand the ‘why’ of when innovation works well and when it doesn’t from a human point of view.

This is not theory; it is a chronicle of the realities of big businesses. And having read the book, you should be armed with a deeper understanding of why no single innovation approach will fit every company. In turn, this will help you find the right way for your organisation.

For years, amid many successes, each of us at Fluxx has experienced the painful realities of companies attempting new things. We’ve seen the full range of tortuous processes companies follow to create new products and services. We’ve helped companies build some great products in this time, and we’re lucky to have been involved with some brilliant brands and individuals in doing so. But just as often, we’ve seen great ideas turned terrible by the execution or the politics, and seen companies invest huge amounts of time and money in building products that customers simply don’t want.

We’d rather not work this way and here, in this book, Tom has set out to help us all understand why organisations hit the buffers with innovation, and to identify practical changes that can be made to approaching innovation which will make new products much more likely to succeed. Of course, you shouldn’t expect easy or obvious answers. Many elements of this new approach are more challenging than the old ways, and require significant rethinking and retraining. Often they require major changes in behaviour, overcoming previous instincts and many years of ingrained habits. Much like kicking any habit, the changes are easy to say yet hard to do.

This is not for the faint of heart. Rather, we at Fluxx hope to work with a new generation of leaders who would prefer to go out on a limb than to watch projects — and even companies — fail through a lack of momentum and innovation.

Here you won’t find a single approach. Instead, as part of the new generation of innovator, you will be armed with the understanding   to diagnose your own organisation, and give you the confidence and belief to make a change. This change will allow your company to think what might previously have seemed unthinkable and — in doing so — achieve what may previously have been unachievable.

—Richard Poole
Founder, Fluxx