BY NILOFER MERCHANT  |   Look at your organization’s hierarchical approach. Did you know it is the number one way you are killing innovation in your firm? The New How shares the secret sauce you can use to work with teams to create fierce performance that can only lead to great outcomes.


Most organizations have a traditional view that “strategy” belongs to one part of an organization and “execution” another, creating what she calls an AirSandwich inside the organization. An AirSandwich is like a peanut butter sandwich – it is missing all the stuff that matters. In business, those are the decisions, deliberations and understandings when people are engaging an idea – to make that idea a reality in the marketplace.

The book was nearly called MurderBoarding™. That’s because in 2002, Nilofer developed a trademarked approach on killing ideas called MurderBoarding ™ that BusinessWeek, Sloan Management Review, and Forbes all called remarkable.

how are you going to get rid of your air sandwich if you don’t even know what it is? provocative & practical at the same time.

– Seth Godin. Author, Linchpin

In essence, this approach says that people don’t lack the ability to collaborate; they lack the ability to pick ideas that matter (and this keeps them from collaborating).  O’Reilly thought MurderBoarding sounded too harsh so that became Chapter 6 of the book. (But this idea is so central to the book, that when the book is reissued, MurderBoarding it will be.)

While many talk of collaboration as a crucial approach for the 21st century, Nilofer has done it so many times that she’s created what best seller author Barry Schwartz calls “a model of clarity” and “the route to a successful organization”. Collaboration creates once-elusive “buy-in” or “empowerment,” improves problem solving, increases creativity, is key to innovation at companies like Lego, Pixar, and Intuit. It slashes costs and improves productivity. The New How has been adopted by many organizations, and endorsed by the likes of Padmasree Warrior of Cisco, Mark Interrante of Yahoo, Tom Kelley of IDEO, and Barry Posner, the #1 Leadership author in the world, this book promises to teach you ways to enable fearless cultures. Read it at your peril, though, for it will change the way you look up and down your organization’s hierarchy.


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