A guide for mining the imagination to find powerful new ways to succeed.

In their new book, Martin Reeves and Jack Fuller explore how to systematically harness imagination to generate new ideas and transform your business.

Published by Harvard Business Review Press.

Cityline divider

—— VIDEOS —

Leaders on Imagination

Listen to leaders discussing why imagination is important in business, how it can be cultivated, and sharing examples from their organizations. 

The Life Cycle of Ideas

In a 6-part mini-series produced with BCG Brighthouse we explore how the Fruition Hat Company navigates and harnesses the life cycle of ideas, a concept we delve deeper into in The Imagination Machine book.

E1: The Seduction

 

E2: The Idea

 

E3: The Collision

 

E4: The Epidemic

 

E5: The New Ordinary

 

E6: The Encore

 

E1: The Seduction

E4: The Epidemic

E2: The Idea

E5: The New Ordinary

E3: The Collision

E6: The Encore

E1: The Seduction

E2: The Idea

E3: The Collision

E4: The Epidemic

E5: The New Ordinary

E6: The Encore

—— ENDORSEMENTS —

CEOs and leaders know that even though it is easy to forget imagination and hard to harness it under pressure, it is more important now than ever.

Business leaders

The Imagination Machine is insightful and timely. As the pandemic has altered many work habits for good, and when the boundaries between management and leadership blur, imagination indeed becomes an increasingly necessary corporate resource.”

Marco Alverà, CEO, Snam 

“In The Imagination Machine, Martin Reeves and Jack Fuller take us on a jolly jaunt from cave paintings to AI-generated images, from the Princes of Serendip to the worldview of the Umwelt, from LEGO to Play-Doh and the founding ideas of Amazon and Disney. Prepare to be inspired.”

Bob Goodson, President, NetBase Quid

The Imagination Machine is a fascinating and practical guide on how to harness imagination to develop and implement transformational ideas, which are so needed in these fast-changing times.”

Susan Hakkarainen, Chairman and CEO, Lutron Electronics

The Imagination Machine belongs in the library of any leader who is serious about developing an industry-leading innovation capacity.”

John Haley, CEO, Willis Towers Watson

“We may not all be artists, but it’s high time we started thinking like them. If you want to escape the tyranny of metrics and incrementalism, and if you’re serious about confronting uncertainty with courage and creativity, this book is a great place to start.”

Margaret Heffernan, best-selling author

“A truly inspiring and beautiful book. It not only explains how renewal from within is the key to sustaining long-term business success; it also gives business leaders the hands-on tools and methods to go about it.”

Georg Kell, Chairman, Arabesque; founder, United Nations Global Compact

“In today’s business environment, the capacity to move beyond ‘cookie-cutter’ models and copies of what others are doing is critical. That requires putting known things together in unforeseen ways; the ability to wonder, to get inspired when things fail or don’t work; and to see surprises as sources of ideas. This book fills an important gap in our knowledge about how to systematically apply imagination, creativity, and learning to business strategy.”

Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, Executive Chairman, LEGO Brand Group

“This book captures essential concepts of nurturing imagination as a sustainable organizational capability. Let’s all ask active open questions—and stay hopeful, as the book suggests.”

Kai-fu Lee, Chairman and CEO, Sinovation Ventures

“Martin Reeves has done it again. With Jack Fuller, he maps the future for business leaders with The Imagination Machine—an incredibly practical and thought-provoking read on stoking imagination within corporations. In order for our companies to flourish in this post-Covid era, it would behoove us to act on these powerful concepts without delay.”

Jim Loree, CEO, Stanley Black & Decker

“Creativity and imagination have increasingly become the key sources of outsized business success. Yet creativity and imagination aren’t taught in most business schools, they’re not encouraged in most business cultures, and they tend to be stifled by most popular management processes. Reeves and Fuller have written a delightful exploration of the imagination in business that should be read by any leader aiming for long-term success.”

Alan Murray, CEO, Fortune Media

“In the era of the Internet of Everything, competition between enterprises will become a competition to fuel the imagination of employees. Therefore, only by believing in human value maximization and turning employees from tools of implementation into autonomous entrepreneurs can we win. The Imagination Machine, which puts forward some powerful questions and propositions, is well worth reading.”

Zhang Ruimin, Chairman and CEO, Haier Group

“In an age of VUCA, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic, it is challenging for organizations in any sector, including NGOs, to innovate and keep innovation alive. Drawing on multidisciplinary insights, this book argues that imagination is upstream of innovation, and articulates a six-step methodology for managing and stimulating imagination, providing a powerful set of tools to enable organizations to get the “imagination machine” up and running.

Xu Yongguang, Founder of Hope Project in China

Academia

The Imagination Machine explains how the power of imagination can be kindled and harnessed. It’s a must-read for every corporate leader or employee.”

Steve Blank, Adjunct Professor, Stanford University

“In an age when corporations are getting ever larger, business models are evolving faster, and artificial intelligence is changing the way we work, companies need imagination more than ever. Rather than treating imagination as an unruly art, Reeves and Fuller convincingly show how companies can systematically cultivate and harness it.”

Gary Hamel, Visiting Professor, London Business School

“Before you can build the Next Big Thing, someone has to come up with the idea on which it is based. In this charming but thorough exploration of the role of imagination in business and society, Martin Reeves and Jack Fuller take us on a tour of what imagination is, why it’s so essential, and how you can cultivate it. A tonic for these highly uncertain times!”

Rita McGrath, Professor, Columbia Business School

Marco Alverà, CEO, Snam

The Imagination Machine is insightful and timely. As the pandemic has altered many work habits for good, and when the boundaries between management and leadership blur, imagination indeed becomes an increasingly necessary corporate resource.”

Susan Hakkarainen, Chairman and CEO, Lutron Electronics

The Imagination Machine is a fascinating and practical guide on how to harness imagination to develop and implement transformational ideas, which are so needed in these fast-changing times.”

Margaret Heffernan, Best-Selling Author

“We may not all be artists, but it’s high time we started thinking like them. If you want to escape the tyranny of metrics and incrementalism, and if you’re serious about confronting uncertainty with courage and creativity, this book is a great place to start.”

Kai-fu Lee, Chairman and CEO, Sinovation Ventures

“This book captures essential concepts of nurturing imagination as a sustainable organizational capability. Let’s all ask active open questions—and stay hopeful, as the book suggests.”

Alan Murray, CEO, Fortune Media

“Creativity and imagination have increasingly become the key sources of outsized business success. Yet creativity and imagination aren’t taught in most business schools, they’re not encouraged in most business cultures, and they tend to be stifled by most popular management processes. Reeves and Fuller have written a delightful exploration of the imagination in business that should be read by any leader aiming for long-term success.”

Steve Blank, Adjunct Professor, Stanford University

The Imagination Machine explains how the power of imagination can be kindled and harnessed. It’s a must-read for every corporate leader or employee.”

John Haley, CEO, Willis Towers Watson

The Imagination Machine belongs in the library of any leader who is serious about developing an industry-leading innovation capacity.”

Georg Kell, Chairman, Arabesque; founder, United Nations Global Compact

“A truly inspiring and beautiful book. It not only explains how renewal from within is the key to sustaining long-term business success; it also gives business leaders the hands-on tools and methods to go about it.”

Jim Loree, CEO, Stanley Black & Decker

“Martin Reeves has done it again. With Jack Fuller, he maps the future for business leaders with The Imagination Machine—an incredibly practical and thought-provoking read on stoking imagination within corporations. In order for our companies to flourish in this post-Covid era, it would behoove us to act on these powerful concepts without delay.”

Zhang Ruimin, Chairman and CEO, Haier Group

“In the era of the Internet of Everything, competition between enterprises will become a competition to fuel the imagination of employees. Therefore, only by believing in human value maximization and turning employees from tools of implementation into autonomous entrepreneurs can we win. The Imagination Machine, which puts forward some powerful questions and propositions, is well worth reading.”

Bob Goodson, President, NetBase Quid

“In The Imagination Machine, Martin Reeves and Jack Fuller take us on a jolly jaunt from cave paintings to AI-generated images, from the Princes of Serendip to the worldview of the Umwelt, from LEGO to Play-Doh and the founding ideas of Amazon and Disney. Prepare to be inspired.”

Gary Hamel, Visiting Professor, London Business School

“In an age when corporations are getting ever larger, business models are evolving faster, and artificial intelligence is changing the way we work, companies need imagination more than ever. Rather than treating imagination as an unruly art, Reeves and Fuller convincingly show how companies can systematically cultivate and harness it.”

Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, Executive Chairman, LEGO Brand Group

“In today’s business environment, the capacity to move beyond ‘cookie-cutter’ models and copies of what others are doing is critical. That requires putting known things together in unforeseen ways; the ability to wonder, to get inspired when things fail or don’t work; and to see surprises as sources of ideas. This book fills an important gap in our knowledge about how to systematically apply imagination, creativity, and learning to business strategy.”

Rita McGrath, Professor, Columbia Business School

“Before you can build the Next Big Thing, someone has to come up with the idea on which it is based. In this charming but thorough exploration of the role of imagination in business and society, Martin Reeves and Jack Fuller take us on a tour of what imagination is, why it’s so essential, and how you can cultivate it. A tonic for these highly uncertain times!”

Xu Yongguang, Founder of Hope Project in China

“In an age of VUCA, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic, it is challenging for organizations in any sector, including NGOs, to innovate and keep innovation alive. Drawing on multidisciplinary insights, this book argues that imagination is upstream of innovation, and articulates a six-step methodology for managing and stimulating imagination, providing a powerful set of tools to enable organizations to get the “imagination machine” up and running.

Marco Alverà, CEO, Snam

The Imagination Machine is insightful and timely. As the pandemic has altered many work habits for good, and when the boundaries between management and leadership blur, imagination indeed becomes an increasingly necessary corporate resource.”

Susan Hakkarainen, Chairman and CEO, Lutron Electronics

The Imagination Machine is a fascinating and practical guide on how to harness imagination to develop and implement transformational ideas, which are so needed in these fast-changing times.”

Margaret Heffernan, Best-Selling Author

“We may not all be artists, but it’s high time we started thinking like them. If you want to escape the tyranny of metrics and incrementalism, and if you’re serious about confronting uncertainty with courage and creativity, this book is a great place to start.”

Kai-fu Lee, Chairman and CEO, Sinovation Ventures

“This book captures essential concepts of nurturing imagination as a sustainable organizational capability. Let’s all ask active open questions—and stay hopeful, as the book suggests.”

Alan Murray, CEO, Fortune Media

“Creativity and imagination have increasingly become the key sources of outsized business success. Yet creativity and imagination aren’t taught in most business schools, they’re not encouraged in most business cultures, and they tend to be stifled by most popular management processes. Reeves and Fuller have written a delightful exploration of the imagination in business that should be read by any leader aiming for long-term success.”

Steve Blank, Adjunct Professor, Stanford University

The Imagination Machine explains how the power of imagination can be kindled and harnessed. It’s a must-read for every corporate leader or employee.”

John Haley, CEO, Willis Towers Watson

The Imagination Machine belongs in the library of any leader who is serious about developing an industry-leading innovation capacity.”

Georg Kell, Chairman, Arabesque; founder, United Nations Global Compact

“A truly inspiring and beautiful book. It not only explains how renewal from within is the key to sustaining long-term business success; it also gives business leaders the hands-on tools and methods to go about it.”

Jim Loree, CEO, Stanley Black & Decker

“Martin Reeves has done it again. With Jack Fuller, he maps the future for business leaders with The Imagination Machine—an incredibly practical and thought-provoking read on stoking imagination within corporations. In order for our companies to flourish in this post-Covid era, it would behoove us to act on these powerful concepts without delay.”

Zhang Ruimin, Chairman and CEO, Haier Group

“In the era of the Internet of Everything, competition between enterprises will become a competition to fuel the imagination of employees. Therefore, only by believing in human value maximization and turning employees from tools of implementation into autonomous entrepreneurs can we win. The Imagination Machine, which puts forward some powerful questions and propositions, is well worth reading.”

Bob Goodson, President, NetBase Quid

“In The Imagination Machine, Martin Reeves and Jack Fuller take us on a jolly jaunt from cave paintings to AI-generated images, from the Princes of Serendip to the worldview of the Umwelt, from LEGO to Play-Doh and the founding ideas of Amazon and Disney. Prepare to be inspired.”

Gary Hamel, Visiting Professor, London Business School

“In an age when corporations are getting ever larger, business models are evolving faster, and artificial intelligence is changing the way we work, companies need imagination more than ever. Rather than treating imagination as an unruly art, Reeves and Fuller convincingly show how companies can systematically cultivate and harness it.”

Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, Executive Chairman, LEGO Brand Group

“In today’s business environment, the capacity to move beyond ‘cookie-cutter’ models and copies of what others are doing is critical. That requires putting known things together in unforeseen ways; the ability to wonder, to get inspired when things fail or don’t work; and to see surprises as sources of ideas. This book fills an important gap in our knowledge about how to systematically apply imagination, creativity, and learning to business strategy.”

Rita McGrath, Professor, Columbia Business School

“Before you can build the Next Big Thing, someone has to come up with the idea on which it is based. In this charming but thorough exploration of the role of imagination in business and society, Martin Reeves and Jack Fuller take us on a tour of what imagination is, why it’s so essential, and how you can cultivate it. A tonic for these highly uncertain times!”

Xu Yongguang, Founder of Hope Project in China

“In an age of VUCA, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic, it is challenging for organizations in any sector, including NGOs, to innovate and keep innovation alive. Drawing on multidisciplinary insights, this book argues that imagination is upstream of innovation, and articulates a six-step methodology for managing and stimulating imagination, providing a powerful set of tools to enable organizations to get the “imagination machine” up and running.

— ABOUT THE BOOK 

A guide for mining the imagination to find powerful new ways to succeed.

We need imagination now more than ever—to find opportunities in adversity, rethink our businesses, and discover new paths to growth. Yet too many companies have lost their ability to imagine. What is this mysterious capacity? How does imagination work? And how can organizations keep it alive and harness it systematically?

The Imagination Machine answers these questions and more. Drawing on the experience and insights of CEOs across several industries, as well as lessons from neuroscience, computer science, psychology, and philosophy, BCG’s Martin Reeves and Jack Fuller provide a fascinating look into the mechanics of imagination and lay out a six-step process for creating ideas and bringing them to life.

Imagination is one of the least understood but most crucial ingredients of business success. It’s what makes the difference between an incremental change and the kinds of pivots and paradigm shifts that are essential to success—especially during a crisis.

The Imagination Machine is the guide you need to demystify and operationalize this powerful human capacity, to inject new life into your company, and to head into unknown territory with the right tools by your side.

You can order the book on the below-linked platforms:

If you are interested in bulk purchase please get in touch by filling the contact form.

— IMAGINATION SURVEY 

How well can companies harness imagination?
Help us assess the capacities of organizations today.

The BCG Henderson Institute has developed a survey to assess organizational capacities for imagination, and we would greatly appreciate your input. This survey should take about 2 minutes and will be completely anonymous  there are no right answers to these questions so we are seeking honest, confidential input.

To see data on several other questions, please complete our survey — aggregated results and benchmarks will be shared back with participants who provide their contact information.

— ADDITIONAL INSPIRATION 

The book represents a convergence of several ideas which the authors have published about over the last few years.

b

The Power of Anomaly

Identifying the next big thing is often treated as an exercise in analyzing trends. But that’s misleading. By the time a trend is established and named, any opportunities it presents have probably been captured by competitors. In this Harvard Business Review article, we explain how to spot, understand and exploit “poignant anomalies” that have the potential to become a business opportunity.

How Leaders Can Encourage Imagination

Listen to Martin Reeves on HBR’s IdeaCast as he discusses how to encourage and systematize imagination in organizations.

Why You Should Play a Game that Imagines Your Company’s Demise

When it comes to running a successful business, games are not usually considered an important part of work. But they’re essential for any businesses that want to survive and thrive. Read more on TED’s blog about the importance of imagination in business.

We Need Imagination Now More Than Ever

Imagination is one of the hardest things to keep alive under pressure (and especially challenging in today’s environment), but the companies that are able to do so can reap significant value. This article explains why we need imagination more than ever.

Competing on Imagination

Companies must increasingly compete on imagination, but we don’t have a clear idea of how imagination works or how to systematically improve it. How could we cultivate imaginative capacity, rather than leaving it to chance, intuition, or processes?

b

Imagination and Business — a Conversation with Bob Goodson

Bob Goodson, President of NetBase Quid, an analytic software company, recently sat down with Martin Reeves to discuss the role of imagination in business, drawing on his background as a successful entrepreneur and before that as a medieval scholar.

—— AUTHORS ——

Martin Reeves_bio_portrait

MARTIN REEVES

Chairman, BCG Henderson Institute

Martin is a managing director and senior partner in BCG’s San Francisco office. Martin leads the BCG Henderson Institute, BCG’s vehicle for exploring ideas from beyond the world of business, which have implications for business strategy management.

Martin joined BCG in London in 1989 and later moved to Tokyo, where he was responsible for BCG’s business with Western clients. His consulting career has focused on strategy – with equal emphasis on idea origination and development, and application by consulting with clients on their strategy challenges.

He is the co-author of Your Strategy Needs a Strategy (HBR Press, 2015). Martin holds a triple first-class MA in natural sciences from Cambridge University and an MBA from Cranfield School of Management.

Jack Fuller portrait

DR. JACK FULLER

Founder, Casati Health

Jack is the founder of Casati Health, a company reimagining mental and physical health care. He holds a doctorate in theology from the University. of Oxford, where he studied on a Rhoades Scholarship, and a degree in neuroscience from the University of Melbourne.

Previously, he was a special project manager at BCG in New York and a member of the BCG Henderson Insitute where he published on imagination, goals, purpose, strategy games, and transformation.

As a consultant at BCG, Jack worked with clients on brand strategy, customer journey mapping, and innovation in products and services.

— CONTACT 

Should you have any questions about the book or the authors, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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