A review of


How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas that Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries

Babies and Beasts

by David Meyer

Physicist Safi Bahcall’s original, entertaining take on managing innovation draws on science, economics, psychology and history to provide a rundown of some of the most important ideas of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Physicist Safi Bahcall – co-founder and former CEO of Synta Pharmaceuticals – argues that “babies,” that is, innovations, require protection from “beasts,” that is, organizations. However, babies need beasts to test, give feedback and implement change. Bahcall  distinguishes “artists” as creatives from “soldiers” as implementers, and provides insightful portraits of seminal innovators – Pan Am’s Juan Trippe, Polaroid’s Edwin Land and Pixar’s Ed Catmull. 

Moonshots, like sending astronauts to the moon, attract money and fanfare. In contrast, Bahcall says, new ideas, or “loonshots,” progress in obscurity. He finds that when the right teams come together, including a powerful champion who protects these early ideas and connects them to everyday operations, loonshots can change the world. 

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