I have long advocated for customer surprise, and now here comes Soren Kaplan advocating for strategic surprise. It is a concept every executive should harness, and Kaplan demonstrates that true breakthroughs in innovation should be surprises. And the most surprising thing of all: by following the approach outlined in Leapfrogging you will be assured of leading your organizations into creating such breakthroughs, and thereby transform your business.
How did Gatorade revitalize itself in the wake of Red Bull and Starbucks? How did OpenTable come to be? How did Four Seasons become the world’s leading luxury hotel brand? What makes one leader or company thrive while others languish in mediocrity?
Leapfrogging connects new research, unconventional strategies and practical tools for navigating the seemingly “messy” process of achieving business breakthroughs. The book draws upon Soren Kaplan’s twenty years of hands-on experience, research studies from universities around the world, and case examples from global companies, start-ups, and nonprofits – including Gatorade, Intuit, OpenTable, Philips, Four Seasons, Colgate-Palmolive, Kimberly-Clark, Etsy, Apple, Google, and many other smaller firms
I work with hundreds of CEOs and their ability to respond to “surprises” is one of today’s most critical factors for business success. Soren gets what it takes to help leaders shift their thinking to create breakthroughs and proactively drive change.
Leapfrogging gives business leaders the tools to do exactly what they’re taught to avoid: embrace uncertainty and invite surprises. Soren shows how anyone can harness the power of surprise and demonstrates that:
- Business breakthroughs deliver surprise. Our brains are wired to appreciate positive surprise. Great ideas surprise us with a strong dose of remarkable newness in ways that add value to our lives and challenge our assumptions about what we thought possible.
- Surprises are strategic tools that drive breakthroughs. By proactively seeking out and using surprises as “guideposts” when they occur, we can gain new insights, generate ideas and discover new directions for ourselves and our organizations.
- Business breakthroughs transform people and organizations. Breakthrough business success doesn’t simply result from a great idea. It involves a challenging and transformative journey through deep ambiguity, unforeseen events and inevitable failures in order to come out the other side to achieve business breakthroughs
Leapfrogging shows how any organization or business function can “change the game” – and delivers a revolutionary formula for rethinking your business:
- Use unexpected events and surprises to create focus and direction
- Push personal boundaries to challenge mindsets and assumptions
- Apply intuition and judgment in strategic decision-making
- Tap into failure as a catalyst for success
- Manage the paradoxes of organizational innovation
Using Soren’s LEAPS process (Listen, Explore, Act, Persist, and Seize), leaders learn to recognize and harness surprising experiences and events as a way to create solutions that leap beyond the current expectations of customers, partners, employees, the market, and the competition.
Leapfrogging shows that breakthrough innovation isn’t just about technologies and products. While these may be important, the difference between success and failure often lies in leadership. Leadership today is about navigating disruptive change. Flexibility, adaptability, and responsiveness are essential when pursuing and leading opportunities in uncharted territory – and Leapfrogging gives leadership and innovators everything they need to push boundaries.
Surprise indeed! I read Leapfrogging with the intention of learning more about promoting and leading innovation breakthroughs in my organization – imagine my surprise as I found myself reflecting on my own personal journey. I now have a greater understanding of the possibilities for real breakthroughs, since I see how they apply to my company, my group, and my own role.
Creating breakthroughs requires new approaches to how we approach learning, as leaders ourselves and as organizations. Leapfrogging reveals strategies for engaging people in the type of experiential learning that challenges assumptions and leads to breakthroughs.
Superbly crafted, powerful in its simplicity, and smart, actionable learning… Finally, a simple, holistic and human engagement model that allows for breakthrough thinking and living.
Leapfrogging is like Deepak Chopra meets Gary Hamel, all brought to life with great clarity and storytelling. No wonder Soren Kaplan is named after the Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard. He describes that when we embrace uncertainty, solutions will spontaneously emerge out of the problem, out of the confusion, disorder and chaos. He outlines how by stepping into the field of all possibilities, we can anticipate the excitement that occurs when we remain open to an infinity of choices. Of course, doing all this requires that we be courageous, and Kaplan shows the way. From my experience teaching, training and consulting on the subject of breakthrough innovation, I see a great need for these skills, and Leapfrogging offers a solution to a very important problem in these exciting and challenging times.
Leapfrogging is as much about the secrets of breakthrough leadership as it is about business innovation. The book is loaded with fresh ideas and examples that inspire new thinking and action.
We as business leaders are always talking about, but rarely find, the key to lasting breakthroughs in the organizations we lead. We push and persist and still get incremental results. Leapfrogging is an extremely useful and insightful handbook for managers on how to finally break the cycle of incremental innovation.
There is no doubt that one’s mindset is a critical lever in driving true business innovation. In Leapfrogging, Soren Kaplan has outlined exactly the right principles for creating an organizational mindset that challenges orthodoxies, and seeks out and learns from surprises.
Kaplan’s book is a powerful and practical read on an aspect of breakthrough thinking that many of us have been missing – even though it’s always been there right in front of us. Through the use of compelling stories, he brings to the foreground principles and practices that cause the reader to see the world of opportunities with a new lens. His integration of what it takes to innovate, both organizationally and personally, is exceedingly pragmatic. And his use of questions to help readers reveal their own insights and wisdom make this a must read for anyone wanting to take their success to the next level.
Change and therefore innovation, is often seen as disruptive and uncomfortable. When a change requires us to adjust our own habits and behaviors, it takes additional energy to learn, understand, and adapt, as well as to take the risk of leaving known paths to try new ways. Leapfrogging provides individuals and organizations a tried-and-true path for stepping into the unknown. With experience and compassion, Soren leads the reader through a process that is not only imaginable, but invaluable. While breakthroughs often require a certain degree of breakdown first, by following the Leapfrogging process you can feel confident the breakthrough will happen and the journey will be worth the risk!
Throughout my career I have relied on building prototypes to guide the path to great solutions. Whether it is a new product, service, experience or business, the goal is to challenge assumptions and find unexpected and hopefully breakthrough insights, and these often come in the form of small and large surprises. Soren’s treatise hits the nail on the head.
Breakthroughs in business don’t follow set formulas. We must continually explore options, test and modify our assumptions based on results and feedback. Then, we can adapt to what we experience and learn. Leapfrogging delivers new principles and tools that anyone can apply to their business, whether they’re just starting out or leading an established organization. Leapfrogging is the new guide for entrepreneurs and leaders in today’s environment.
Leapfrogging challenges its readers to break out of conventional thinking by employing a few simple notions: know who you are, stay true to your purpose and enjoy the journey along the way. By showcasing examples of challenging conventional thinking, embracing surprise and welcoming failure as a learning exercise, readers will learn from the stories of others. Kaplan’s book is part storytelling, part self-reflection. Leapfrogging shows that leaders who look inward to challenge the status quo will be on track to truly change the game.