Safi Bahcall: Loonshots – Innovation Through the Lens of a Physicist

Safi Bachall - Loonshots -OutsideVoices with Mark Bidwell

Show Notes

In this interview I am joined by Safi Bahcall, a second-generation physicist and biotech entrepreneur, whose new book “Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries” applies the science of phase transitions to group behavior in teams and companies, and how it influences innovation processes. Safi holds a PhD in physics from the University of Stanford. He is a former consultant for McKinsey, a co-founder of a biotechnology company developing new drugs for cancer, and has worked with President Obama’s council of science advisors (PCAST) on the future of national research. He has presented at leading academic institutions such as Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Princeton, UC Berkeley and others.  

Read the full article HERE.

What Was Covered:  

  • How the structure of a company, rather than its culture, enables or disables innovation 
  • The two basic phases in any organization – who are “artists” and “soldiers” and how to achieve an equilibrium between them  
  • The three key elements to build a sustainable innovation system – the metaphor of the ice cube, the garden hoe and the heart 

Key Takeaways and Learnings:  

  • Using the lens of phase transitions to understand and benefit from structural forces which operate in any organization    
  • Why leaders need to keep their artists and soldiers separate when they want to engage in innovation  
  • Persistence as the main factor of innovation and how “the rule of three deaths” applies to science and business breakthroughs  


Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

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