“Don't let the title fool you. This book is stuffed with practical, useful ideas that will change the way you create and sell useful, practical ideas.”
– Seth Godin, author of Linchpin
The Girl Who Kicked the Cliché
By Luke Williams
Everywhere you look––in planes, trains, cafes and parks, somebody is reading a book with a title that begins with, “The Girl…”
Author, Stieg Larsson didn’t live to see the blockbuster success of his trilogy: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. He died of a heart attack before the first book was published and the 46 million copies sold world-wide.
Recently, the Wall Street Journal reviewed a new book called On Stieg Larsson, which includes an exchange of emails between him and his book editor.
What’s instructive about the correspondence is how Larsson deliberately set out to disrupt the conventions of the crime novel. “I have gone out of my way to avoid the usual approach adopted in crime novels. I have used some techniques that are normally outlawed,” he writes.
Stieg Larsson sparked a global publishing phenomenon by creating characters who are “drastically different” from those who typically appear in crime novels. Your ambitions may not include a best-selling crime novel, but Larsson’s approach can be used just as effectively by anyone who’s willing to challenge the status quo––whatever business you’re in.
Deny the clichés
The denial method works by completely dumping key aspects of a cliché.
Stieg Larsson denied the standard clichés for role of his detective. He explains, “Mikael Blomkvist, for instance, doesn't have ulcers, or booze problems or an anxiety complex. He doesn't listen to operas, nor does he have an oddball hobby such as making model airplanes.”
Invert the clichés
If there’s an action, look at the opposite action. If there’s a one-way relationship between two parties, flip the direction.
Larsson inverted the relationship between his two lead characters: “I have also deliberately changed the sex roles: In many ways Blomkvist acts like a typical ‘bimbo,’ while Lisbeth Salander has stereotypical ‘male’ characteristics and values.”
Scale the clichés
Each of us has a highly developed sense of the natural size and proportions of the world and the products around us. So, when items in a given situation are out of proportion with each other, it immediately grabs our attention. What is scarce that you can make abundant? What is small that you can make big?
Larsson scaled the role of his secondary characters: “I have devoted an awful lot of space to secondary characters who, in several respects, play just as big a role as the main characters… This is wholly intentional on my part. I think that secondary characters can often be much more exciting than the main player.”
Many clichés are still around for no other reason than “we’ve always done it this way.” So take Stieg Larsson’s lead. Look at the conventions in your industry from the inside out, upside down, backward, and forward.
In a business world of nonstop change, there's only one way to win the game: transform it entirely. This requires a revolution in thinking—a steady stream of disruptive strategies and unexpected solutions. In Disrupt, Luke Williams shows exactly how to generate those strategies and deliver those solutions.
Williams shows how to combine fluid creativity with analytical rigor in a simple, complete, five-stage process for successfully disrupting any market. Using many examples and a case study, you'll walk through every step of transforming disruptive ideas from conception to breakthrough business strategy.
“Disrupt is a simple yet incredibly powerful thought process which can help turn your business upside-down in seconds. Are you prepared to DISRUPT your business?” – Martin Lindstrom, best-selling author of Buyology
“If you need to drive disruptive innovation in your own organization—and you do—Luke Williams is the guide you've been looking for. Buy this book. Use it. Make a difference.” —David L. Rogers, author of The Network Is Your Customer: Five Strategies to Thrive in a Digital Age
“Luke Williams has a powerful message for companies today: Don’t wait for a couple guys in a garage to come up with an idea that will upend your business.” —Linda Tischler, Senior Editor, Fast Company
“By artfully smashing ideas together—from Schumpeter to Tarantino, business to design—Luke Williams upends the ordinary, providing the reader with a motivational and pragmatic blueprint for innovative thinking.” —Jamyn Edis, Vice-President of Emerging Technology R&D at HBO
“Remember the old Apple tagline, urging us all to ‘Think Different?’ In this book, Luke Williams shows us how to do precisely that. Disrupt helps you look at business—and the world around you—through a fresh lens, one that turns assumptions and convention upside down.” —Warren Berger, author of Glimmer: How Design Can Transform Your Business, Your Life, And Maybe Even the World
About The Author
Luke Williams is a leading speaker, educator, and consultant on innovation strategy. He has worked internationally with industry leaders like American Express, GE, Sony, Crocs, Virgin, Disney, and Hewlett-Packard, to develop new products, services, and brands. Williams is a Fellow at frog, one of the world's most influential innovation companies, and Adjunct Professor of Innovation at NYU Stern School of Business.