Summary of We Do Things Differently

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  • Innovative
  • Eye Opening


Remarkable trailblazers around the globe are brimming with unconventional ideas and the gutsy pragmatism to carry them out. And upbeat futurist Mark Stevenson should know. He’s traveled the world meeting some of the most inspiring and drawing out their innovative passions. His diverse selection includes democracy-building Brazilian ex-revolutionaries, an engineer moved by brotherly love to upend the system for discovering medications, and intrepid urban agriculturists turning Detroit’s cityscape green. No pipe-dreamers, all the innovators here understand the enormity of the tasks facing them. Stevenson describes global problems that he believes could engulf humankind without the urgent intervention of such brilliant “outsiders.” getAbstract recommends his stirring examples to leaders, mavericks and all ardent doers.

About the Author

Mark Stevenson is a London-based futurist, writer and entrepreneur. He founded The League of Pragmatic Optimists and advises organizations such as Civilized Bank and Virgin Earth Challenge about the future. He also wrote An Optimist’s Tour of the Future.



Fixing Broken Systems

Many people have novel ideas, but only a few take action on them. Real innovators see dysfunctional systems – in food production, energy, health care, education, politics, and more – and devise practical fixes, not in the future but now. They resist standard narratives claiming that established ways are the only ways. The world needs these stubborn, optimistic activists.

“Rebooting” Medicine, Driven by Empathy and Data

In 1998, doctors diagnosed Jamie Heywood’s younger brother Stephen with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), called Lou Gehrig’s disease in the US and motor neuron disease in the UK. Jamie threw himself into seeking a cure – and in a truly atypical way. A mechanical engineer, Jamie set up a new biotech nonprofit, the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI), and raised millions in start-up funds. Not willing to wait six years for drug approvals, ALS TDI tested already-approved drugs that might work as “off label” ALS treatments. A promising lead on Celebrex, an anti-inflammatory drug, proved fruitless. ALS TDI scientists held large-volume Monte Carlo simulations, showing that all other purported ALS therapies were specious...

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