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Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries
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Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  178 ratings  ·  27 reviews
*Wall Street Journal bestseller
*Next Big Idea Club selection—chosen by Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, Dan Pink, and Adam Grant as one of the "two most groundbreaking new nonfiction reads of the season"
*Washington Post's "10 Leadership Books to Watch for in 2019"
*'s "10 Business Books You Need to Read in 2019"
*Business Insider's "14 Books Everyone Will Be Reading in
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published March 19th 2019 by St. Martin's Press
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4.21  · 
Rating details
 ·  178 ratings  ·  27 reviews

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Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Loonshots is a thought-provoking blend of history, physics, and business which seeks to explain group decision-making about "loonshots". I am a social scientist so the idea of thinking about group behavior through the lens of phase transitions (think ice to water or water to ice) was fascinating to me. The real-world examples ranging from WWII to cancer research were interesting and I found the author's personal stories most compelling of all.
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, business
You would imagine that the first time someone presented the idea of using a beam to detect ships and airplanes, or a drug to reduce cholesterol, or a drug to kill tumors by choking their blood supply, there would be wild jubilation welcoming such a world-shaking breakthrough.
Aaaand you would be wrong. The folks who came up with such well-duh-obviously useful innovations as radar, statins and anti-angiogenesis drugs were rejected, and again, and again, for between 12 and 32 years.

Loonshots are “
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a dynamite book. brilliantly written. good ideas. safi bahcall is a great story teller, and these tales are well worth telling.
Chia Evers
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure—I did some of the research for Loonshots, so I know the book (and the author) quite well. That said, it's a fascinating mix of history, science, technology, and organizational management (and never did I think to use the words "fascinating" and "organizational management" in the same sentence), written in a conversational style that makes complex ideas accessible, without oversimplifying.
Matt Cannon
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is probably one of the best books I’ve read of 2019 so far. It was full of so much practical insight and lessons about life, business and relationships. He covered people like Steve Jobs, Edwin Land (founder of Polaroid) and many other people from history.

He talked about phased transitions - using traffic as an example. Smooth flow of cars to a crowded highway full of traffic. One small tap grows exponentially until it becomes a traffic jam. Small disruptions grow suddenly. A smooth flow v
Rohit Nallapeta
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A must read. Safi Bahcall has done me, an entrepreneur, a solid. He's created the grand unified theory of innovation, culture, and management. The author with great narrative skill takes you through a history of world wars, visits the greats like Vannevar Bush, Theodore Vail, talks about their skills in enabling structures that balanced innovation, moonshot projects along with execution. He talks about the fallacies about betting on only one kind of innovation and the importance of strategy. He ...more
Apr 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: business, netgalley
Loonshots is enjoyable and interesting and unlike many other business books I had not read or heard of many of the shared stores. The author has the gift of taking complex ideas and making them understandable. The challenge with the book was two-fold. Each story is too long - I kept thinking "I get it" lets move on to the application of the concept. And that is the second area where I thought this book fell short. The application ideas were too short. As a recreational book I'd give it 4 stars. ...more
Paul Miller
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Many transformative ideas wallow for years because organizations and people don’t realize the need for two modes: operational/franchise mode (run the biz - think ‘soldiers’) and high-risk, transformative exploration (think ‘artists). Illustrated through numerous historical instances (not all business), the author shows how you need to nurture both and the transitions between the two to thrive. Definitely a thought provoking read - well constructed balance between illustration, abstractions, and ...more
Mark Nichols
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A very simple thesis, nicely presented. Maintaining the creative tension across loonshots and franchises is key; phase separation and dynamic equilibrium (keeping both artists and soldiers functioning separately yet also knowing how and when to bring them together) represent the tension point for getting it right. Fav quote (p.37) "Luck is the residue of design".

Bahcall also provides insight into what he terms Product and Strategy loonshots, with well-known, historical examples.

An enjoyable re
Ron Plummer
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As one who grew up professionally in the Bell Labs scientific culture, I have thoroughly enjoyed and without reservation highly recommend Loonshots.

Although it's title and central thesis focuses on the dynamic structural patterns found in the physics of state phase transitions and power law mathematics responsible for powering humanity's really big bold projects and ideas, the historical tour Safi Bahcall takes us on is by itself breathtaking and IMHO worth your time.
Simon Hohenadl
Apr 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Entertaining anecdotes on innovation. I find the developed framework of loonshots and how to foster them interesting and inspiring. However, I found the theory is based on anecdotes and generalisations too much for my taste. It actually contradicts other (more research-focused) books like Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Valuable book

It contains plenty of examples to make points clearer. This is good but at the same time it made me feel constantly that some “landing of the messages/knowledge/insights between examples is about to come in the next page” and it never did. So I had to kinda built knowledge by hindsight...
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Like most of these self development bestsellers it has a lot of fluff and tge first half of the book is spent on telling enterantaining historical anecdotes. But I enjoy a good story, the second part is a change of pace and it has a few good points so I'd not hesitate to recommend this if you're into this type of books
Nigel Parker
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Reading Loonshots; the concept of phase transitions and the physics behind forest fires and the spread of terrorism online. Something we can learn from giving the recent terror attacks in Christchurch. Check out New Terrorism Reveals New Physics
Russell John
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Intrigue. Reflection. Inspiration.

Safi has delivered a gem, especially for those with a keen interest in pharma and the evolution of scientific advancement. Many unique perspectives though the lens of physics.
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting book about crazy new ideas and how they make it to their final form. Well written and worth reading for all the fun historical stories about things like Pan Am as much for the main point.
Mar 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Loonshots was a fair book, but not overly great. The author did a poor job defining his terms, particularly the P-type definition was weakly delivered. Ultimately, the book reads like a dissertation that received encouragement from colleagues. The message was decent, just not overly well delivered.
Stevo Brock
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was Stevo's Business Book of the Week for the week of 3/17, as selected by Stevo's Book Reviews on the Internet. You can find me at or search for me on Google for many more reviews and recommendations.
Brendan Brooks
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, business
I am a bit anti the term because the term moonshot drive's me bonkers. However this book has something interesting to offer, a lot of things, and it does so with substance and solid structure. One to come back to, but something for those with loony ideas, and those that manage them.
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: esoteric-life
This book contains some very interesting business innovation stories and they are a nice bonus to chapter 7, which is the core of the book. If you only have one hour, listen to chapter 7, it should be mandatory reading for any CTO.
Ken Hamner
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I’ve read this year.
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
In order to change a business culture, change the structure somehow. It’s the oddball ideas that most often make the difference. Fun mix of business, physics, and history.
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
There are a few incredible insights in this book that make it well worth the read.
Justin Palmer
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very good book with descriptive stories and a good thesis
Qinglin Che
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kathy Cowie
3.5 stars
to be reviewed in the March-April issue of Global Business and Organizational Excellence
Nicholas Tay
rated it it was amazing
Apr 24, 2019
rated it liked it
Apr 04, 2019
Shannon Mckenzie
rated it it was ok
Apr 03, 2019
Zach Wright
rated it really liked it
Apr 06, 2019
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