How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas that Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries
In his instant Wall Street Journal bestselling book Loonshots, Safi Bahcall reveals a surprising new way of thinking about innovation and group dynamics, challenging everything we thought we knew about radical breakthroughs. In talks based on his book—which Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman calls “Not to be missed by anyone who wants to understand how ideas change the world”—Bahcall shows how we can stoke innovation, create better leaders, and support “loonshots”: the imperfect but ingenious ideas that have the potential to change the world.
As a consultant at McKinsey & Company, and co-founder and CEO of Synta Pharmaceuticals, Safi Bahcall spent nearly two decades of his life bringing big, innovative ideas to fruition. Frequently, this meant assessing and developing loonshots—the widely dismissed ideas whose champions are often written off as crazy. Along the way, he noticed the obstacles that innovators came up against, which seemed to stem from “the mysteries of group behavior.” As he dynamically explains, small changes in the structure of a company, rather than in its culture, can transform the behavior of the distinct groups involved, allowing innovation to flourish.
“A wonderful book that explores the beauty, quirkiness and complexity of ideas, Loonshots will both educate and entertain you. If you care about ideas—especially new and out-of-the-box ones—you need to read this book.”— Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies
In his talks, Bahcall shows how the science of phase transitions—think water becoming ice—suggests a useful new way of nurturing radical breakthroughs. He explains the mystery of why good teams—even those with excellent people and the best intentions—can kill great ideas. With humor, history, and a dash of physics, Bahcall offers audiences the tools to become initiators of innovative surprise rather than witnesses to it.
Bahcall is a physicist and biotech entrepreneur, and in 2011 worked with President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology on shaping the future of national research. After working for three years as a consultant for McKinsey, Bahcall co-founded the biotechnology company Synta Pharmaceuticals, where he helped develop new drugs for cancer treatment. He led Synta’s IPO and served as its CEO for 13 years. In 2008, he was named the Ernst & Young New England Biotechnology/ Pharmaceutical Entrepreneur of the Year. His first book, Loonshots, is out now from St. Martin’s Press. Business Insider, Inc. Magazine, and The Washington Post all included Loonshots in their Top 10 and Must-Read booklists of 2019.