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Loonshots

How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries
Written by: Safi Bahcall
Length: 10 hrs and 14 mins
5 out of 5 stars (24 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This program includes a prologue and introduction read by the author.

Washington Post's "10 Leadership Books to Watch for in 2019", Adam Grant's "19 New Leadership Books to Read in 2019", Inc.com's "10 Business Books You Need to Read in 2019", Business Insider's "14 Books Everyone Will Be Reading in 2019"

“This book has everything: new ideas, bold insights, entertaining history, and convincing analysis. Not to be missed by anyone who wants to understand how ideas change the world.” (Daniel Kahneman, winner of the Nobel Prize and author of Thinking, Fast and Slow)

What do James Bond and Lipitor have in common? What can we learn about human nature and world history from a glass of water? 

In Loonshots, physicist and entrepreneur Safi Bahcall reveals a surprising new way of thinking about the mysteries of group behavior that challenges everything we thought we knew about nurturing radical breakthroughs. 

Drawing on the science of phase transitions, Bahcall reveals why teams, companies, or any group with a mission will suddenly change from embracing wild new ideas to rigidly rejecting them, just as flowing water will suddenly change into brittle ice. Mountains of print have been written about culture. Loonshots identifies the small shifts in structure that control this transition, the same way that temperature controls the change from water to ice. 

Using examples that range from the spread of fires in forests to the hunt for terrorists online, and stories of thieves and geniuses and kings, Bahcall reveals how this new kind of science helps us understand the behavior of companies and the fate of empires. Loonshots distills these insights into lessons for creatives, entrepreneurs, and visionaries everywhere. 

Over the past decade, researchers have been applying the tools and techniques of phase transitions to understand how birds flock, fish swim, brains work, people vote, criminals behave, ideas spread, diseases erupt, and ecosystems collapse. If 20th-century science was shaped by the search for fundamental laws, like quantum mechanics and gravity, the 21st will be shaped by this new kind of science. Loonshots is the first to apply these tools to help all of us unlock our potential to create and nurture the crazy ideas that change the world.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 Safi Bahcall (P)2019 Macmillan Audio

What members say

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    5 out of 5 stars

Grounded Take On Dreaming Big

Fantastic overview of keeping innovation going by separating the two phases: loonshots and franchises, the artists and the soldiers, the creatives and the scales.

Worth listening to for anyone starting, growing or reviving an organization.

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the detail and thought process is excelllent

loved the learning the long true history of so called famous developers and how great success actually happened

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  • pd park
  • 2019-04-25

Not a fan of the narration style

The narrator’s voice keeps dropping at the end of every sentence to almost a whisper. Turning the volume up makes the louder part of every sentence too loud. I’ve listened to many audio books and never had this problem before.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Mimi Stahlberg
  • 2019-03-28

Inspiring storytelling for wide audiences

Captivating, rich story-telling with practical takeaways in essentially every paragraph. Whether you’re an innovator, businessman, scientist, thinker or simply just someone who enjoys inspiring stories with twists and underdogs hitting it out of the ballpark, this book is for you. The audiobook is easy to listen to - good selection of a voice actor for those of you that are picky about that.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Andrew C
  • 2019-04-18

The first practical innovation book

The book that moved the academic innovation conversation from theory to practice. I admit I loved Clay Christensen's work on "disruptive innovation" as it was the best that was out there before, but this book absolutely crushes previous analysis of innovation.

I love the understanding of problems across domains, particularly phase transitions - water shifts from ice to liquid at a threshold of 0 degrees, similarly companies shift from fostering loonshots to politicking at an organizational size of roughly 150. However, there are levers or "control parameters" that can be used to change when phases transition, similarly to how we put salt on ice which reduces the temperature required for it to melt. Safi proposes a beautiful and actionable formula that captures these control parameters for organizations.

I love the definition of management which is so true: management is about facilitating the harmony between the creatives (one's involved in loonshots) and the soldiers (one's involved in franchise projects) which he calls being a gardener, versus being the individual that chooses which loonshots should be pursued or not (he identifies as the Moses trap). Safi also proposes a useful dichotomy of innovations, p-type which are technologically related, and s-type which are strategy and business model related. While both should be garnered, companies can develop a tendancy to only focus on p-types which have resulted in their demise. Finally, there are fantastic cases to explain all this including Pan Am airways, Bell labs, world war 2, steve jobs and Pixar, and many more.

Don't miss out on this one and refer it to a friend.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Chad B Wickland
  • 2019-04-08

Excellent and brilliant

Gain the tools to bring great ideas to their full fruition by listening to this incredible book!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Charles Cumiskey
  • 2019-04-12

A must read for leaders

This book has so many insights on why leaders and organizations fail or are successful. Understand why innovation dies in organizations and much more....

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Salil Jha, Writer & Speaker
  • 2019-07-19

an average book

I bought it because of this book was mentioned on some of the top podcasts and Safi's background story sounded cool. The book is unnecessarily long and overall average storytelling. Unless you are from biotech background, you might even feel bored by too many lenghty biotech domain stories. For me personally, in the ocean of amazing books out there, I left it midway. Hence 3 stars.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • joe
  • 2019-05-19

fun read, not for real life

while the ideas expressed in this book are fascinating and entertaining to say the least, they are not relevant to almost anyone reading this book and are really just a way for most people to think that if they would have ran 'x' company they would have been smarter about it.
there is no real practical application of this book to 99.9% of people.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • MD
  • 2019-03-31

A different perspective

I'm giving this book 5 starts because of the different perspectives the stories bring. However, some of the duties after too long and could have been shortened especially in the earlier parts of the book.

Over, it's a good read I'd say.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • David S Friedman
  • 2019-08-22

Fascinating, brilliant book on technology, change and business

This book has so much interesting analysis about the history of innovation and change. If you’re interested in business and/or want great insights to help improve your leadership skills, it is absolutely a great source of knowledge and inspiration. But even if you are not in business and just are interested in science and innovation, it is well worth the time. A great book!

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  • chris
  • 2019-08-19

Met Safi at HCNY, an impressive human being!

Safi takes you on an enjoyable journey that challenges public notions on life changing technologies all the while setting the record straight on how many of them had awkward accensions into the lexicons of history.