"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


As an avid reader, it is not surprising for me to note that books about how to create ideas are a dime a dozen. Just pop into any physical book store in the city or browse the Amazon catalog - you will be astonished!

Also, books about how to sell your ideas are relatively overwhelming in available numbers.

In this genre of books, I would also include those books touching on contemplation (or choice making) as well as creative problem solving.

We all know most ideas often come to us as fuzzy, weak & half-baked; sometimes - with a little bit of intervention - as sketchy concepts on paper or nifty scribblings on the back of a napkin.

So, we come to a harsh reality: how to turn a raw idea into a blockbuster product or service, or how to convert a vague, unpolished thought into a powerful idea that can change the world?

Frankly, books about fine-tuning an idea, developing it, testing it, sustaining it, & more importantly, making it into a marketable intellectual property, are hard to find.

I dare to venture one, which comes close to my personal expectations, at least in some respects.

That's the classic 'The Innovation Formula: How Organizations Turn Change into Opportunity' by strategist Michel Robert (who founded the Decision Processes International consultancy outfit in 1980), targetted primarily at businesspeople.

The competent author had shared a proprietary & disciplined process methodology for finding, assessing, developing, & pursuing an opportunity.

Even world-renowned creativity guru, Edward de bono, with his huge repertoire of printed books & published writings on lateral thinking, has yet to come up with a disciplined idea development methodology, even though his classic, 'Opportunities: A Handbook for Business Opportunity Search', has great stuff, which a reader unfortunately needs to sort out diligently for application.

Naturally, in fairness to the brilliant author, I must add that, when come to techniques on "provoking insight", not many authors/consultants in the marketplace can really touch him.

So, we are back to square one. Not exactly so.

I have recently read a new book, entitled 'The Genius Machine: The Eleven Steps that Turn Raw Ideas into Brilliance', by Gerald Sindell, a former book publishing executive & former Hollywood film producer.

Today, the author runs his own thoughtware consultancy known as Thought Leaders International, whose mission is "to transform original thinkers into authoritative leaders, & organisations into innovation powerhouses".

A little bit of brief history before I move on.

Almost a year ago, I had stumbled upon the weblog of the author, where he had shared some preliminary ideas about his unique, systematic creative thought process, known as 'The Endleofon Process'.

He was actually surprised & excited that I had found him on the net "by accident" (or was it a stroke of synchronicity?). [He wrote about it in his weblog.]

Since then, I had waited patiently for his new book, which I had acquired only a few months ago.

I have only read it recently, amidst my huge backlog of new books to read/review.

The author's Endleofon Process is encapsulated in the book - there are eleven stages; hence, the name 'Endleofon', which is an old English word for the odd number - with each stage of the elegant process covered specifically by each chapter.

Given a choice, I would not have used the current title of 'The Genius Machine'.

To me, it's a misnomer. Machines don't think. We humans do.

As I see it, 'The Endleofon Process' as embodied in the book is a disciplined, systematic thinking-through methodology.

With it, I am convinced that any one, through diligent application, can get to enhance his or her thinking by deliberating purposefully - via a meaningful series of provocative questions at each stage - on an issue or a project, all the way to its productive outcome.

Here's a quick bullet summary of the process stages:






6) NEED;






[Readers can go to this link to download a relatively detailed document about 'The Endleofon Process'.]

From a tactical perspective, the eleven process stages are great for anyone to use them for exploring his or her creative assets, &/or mining his or her inventive mind.

The author writes with warmth, candour & succinctness. His many personal anecdotes as well as crisp examples of real-world application are easy to understand. Best of all, his easy-going writing style also makes reading - by the way, less than 150 pages - a breeze!

Particularly for reader's benefit, I like to single out a number of refreshing strategic insights from the book - for me, they really stand out:

1) Thinking is a matter of making (fine) distinctions;

2) Seeing, as opposed to looking, is the beginning of discovery;

3) When we have refined our thinking to the point that our hard work has become invisible, then we will have achieved elegance;

4) Our definition of success needs to be revisited from time to time. . . (so that) we can better calibrate our thinking. . .;

5) Our identity is the fingerprint of our soul, that part of us that is unchanging & immutable; Knowing. . . this will give us the necessary alignment throughout the creative process;

6) We need to see the moral, societal, & technological implications, & play them out in every way imaginable to truly understand the full context of what we're doing;

7) Testing means asking, "what am I blind to?;

8) Testing, including modeling, is the only reliable way we have of finding how robust our ideas are;

9) Once we have absorbed our major influences (from others), everything we think & do will tend to be original, because only we can synthesise them in the unique way that we do;

[Interestingly, this was also the legendary martial artist Bruce Lee's philosophy, when he developed the stealthy hybrid jeet-kune-do fighting system.];

10) I like to think of big breakthroughs as "shuffling the deck". . . we need to develop our own personal array of filters that will bring us the information we need as soon as it happens;

11) Understanding the flow of the zeitgeist (spirit of the time), being sensitive to it, will help calibrate our own innovations & developments;

12) Having a good understanding of who needs us most will also help us in crafting our developments. . .;

13) Almost everything we say or so has significance & carries implications. . . & consequences, whether we want them or not. . . Looking for (them). . . will always enrich our work & may lead us to alter the direction of what we're doing;

14) I believe that until we find an answer for ourselves to the big 'WHY? that we can live with for a while, we will not be able to think through the moral implications of our personal universe;

15) Structural integrity requires that something that can stand on its own i.e. be complete. . . look at (the) 3 steps for the user that will take place in time: beginning point (opening the package), end point (using it as intended), & third point: we need to do whatever is necessary for a great user experience!

16) No matter how brilliant our creation is, we need to complete it by becoming our intended user for a time (reality check);

17) By creating, we are defining a self that acts in the world, & if we desire, magnifying our contribution;

18) To make a difference in the world ultimately requires understanding how to be an advocate for our ideas or causes;

To conclude my review, I reckon the real gem in the book lies, in addition to the methodology, in the thoughtfully-crafted 'The Endleofon Questions' which the author has dutifully assembled at the end of the book, as well as also those probing ones already interspersed within all the chapters.

Many thanks, Gerald, for a great masterpiece!

I reckon 'Genius by Design' - which implies hard work, as thinking is essentially hard work (I fully concur with Henry Ford) - would have been a much more appropriate title for your book!

Nevertheless, your wonderful book has made my day!

[More information about the author, his consulting work, & his book is available at his corporate website as well as his personal weblog.]

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