Cover image for Serious play : how the world's best companies simulate to innovate
Serious play : how the world's best companies simulate to innovate
Schrage, Michael.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Harvard Business School Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xxiv, 244 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
The new economics of innovation -- A spreadsheet way of knowledge -- Our models, ourselves -- Productive waste -- Preparing for surprise -- Perils of pathological prototyping -- S(t)imulating interventions -- Measuring prototyping paybacks -- Going meta: evolution as a business practice.
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HD45 .S368 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Successful innovation demands more than a good strategic plan; it requires creative improvisation. Much of the "serious play" that leads to breakthrough innovations is increasingly linked to experiments with models, prototypes, and simulations. As digital technology makes prototyping more cost-effective, serious play will soon lie at the heart of all innovation strategies, influencing how businesses define themselves and their markets. Author Michael Schrage is one of today's most widely recognized experts on the relationship between technology and work. In Serious Play, Schrage argues that the real value in building models comes less from the help they offer with troubleshooting and problem solving than from the insights they reveal about the organization itself. Technological models can actually change us--improving the way we communicate, collaborate, learn, and innovate. With real-world examples and engaging anecdotes, Schrage shows how companies such as Disney, Microsoft, Boeing, IDEO, and DaimlerChrysler use serious play with modeling technologies to facilitate the collaborative interactions that lead to innovation. A user's guide included with the book helps readers apply many of the innovation practices profiled throughout. A landmark book by one of the most perceptive voices in the field of innovation.

Author Notes

Tom Peters, public speaker and author, graduated from Cornell University and received a M.B.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University. He has also received honorary doctorates from the University of San Francisco and Rhodes College.

He was in the U. S. Navy during Vietnam and later served as a senior White House drug abuse advisor (1973-74). He worked for McKinsey & Company from 1974 to 1981. He holds about 75 seminars a year and has created and starred in a series of corporate training films.

He is the co-author of In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies, which was a New York Times bestseller for three years. This book and subsequent titles have become bestsellers in Europe, Latin America and Asia. Peters contributes to several newspapers and journals, including writing a bimonthly column for Forbes ASAP.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

At such firms as Walt Disney, Microsoft, 3M, Sony, and Hewlitt-Packard, serious play is serious work. Schrage, a research associate at MIT Media Lab and columnist for Fortune, sets out to explore "serious play," which he defines as creative improvisation in corporations. Serious play is taking place worldwide, and it uses such "toys" as models, simulations, and prototypes. With the development of sophisticated technology, the distinction among these three toys has blurred, and they all are used as an effort to recreate some aspect of reality that matters; their real value is the insight they provide an organization. The irony of innovation in any field, especially the most competitive, is that you can't be a serious innovator unless you are willing to play--which means seriously investing in the challenge of confronting the uncertainties that future markets will bring by rigorously questioning and revising the rules. This is a "must read" book. --Mary Whaley

Choice Review

This densely written book focuses on using prototypes to manage and enhance innovation. According to Schrage, serious play, or "improvising with the anticipated in ways that create new value," is not a game but rather a core competence of the innovative organization. Examples from fields as diverse as finance, design and manufacture of durable goods, software development, and reengineering add flesh to the author's ideas. Extension to less tangible processes is rare, however. Schrage discusses the implications for supplier and customer relationships as well as organizational culture, internal coordination, and the importance of being surprised. The final chapter is an executive summary for those "with a sense of urgency"; however, only the most experienced, astute innovators will understand the summary without having digested the preceding chapters. Serious Play is not a casual reader's delight. It assumes prior knowledge of innovation and innovation management and a determination to sort through technological jargon and acronyms, making this a poor first book for newcomers to the field. However, the ideas presented are exciting, and employees and organizations that rely on their ability to innovate should find this volume thought-provoking. Graduate, research, and practitioner collections. B. J. Keinath; Metropolitan State University

Table of Contents

Forewordp. ix
Prefacep. xiii
Acknowledgmentsp. xxi
Overviewp. 1
Part I Getting Real
1 The New Economics of Innovationp. 11
2 A Spreadsheet Way of Knowledgep. 37
Part II Model Behavior
3 Our Models, Ourselvesp. 61
4 Productive Wastep. 95
5 Preparing for Surprisep. 115
6 Perils of Pathological Prototypingp. 131
Part III S(t)imulating Innovation
7 S(t)imulating Interventionsp. 155
8 Measuring Prototyping Paybacksp. 177
9 Going Meta: Evolution as a Business Practicep. 193
User's Guidep. 201
Bibliographyp. 215
Indexp. 235
About the Authorp. 245