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 shows 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 shows 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.
I was trying to find the words to describe this book, but I’ll have to borrow Daniel Kahneman’s praise of Loonshots:
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.
Safi Bahcall has written a non-fiction epic that connects the science of emergence to industry, organizations and governments. Bahcall carefully analyzes major events and transformations throughout history and sheds light on the loonshot projects that changed the world. He shows that some of the most important inventions from radar, and jet planes all the way to the scientific method itself were originally dismissed as “crazy” or “impossible” by much of the
population. But a few brave and gritty individuals persevered through sometimes years of rejection and development to see their ideas come to life.
For those looking interested in learning how some organizations nurtured crazy ideas while others dismissed them, this is a book for you. It is a riveting tale of history, recounting events from a different perspective, that ultimately shaped our current world. It is a brilliant piece of work that will help guide the leaders of tomorrow.
As teams and companies grow larger, the stakes in outcome decrease while the perks of rank increase. When the two cross, the system snaps. Incentives begin encouraging behavior no one wants. Those same groups—with the same people—begin rejecting loonshots.
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