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The Two-Second Advantage: How We Succeed by Anticipating the Future – Just Enough is a must-read for innovators and strategists. Read on to learn why.

As an innovation publisher, I receive a lot of books in the mail. Most fade together into a wall of sameness. But once in a while, a book stands out. As you turn the pages and read the authors’ insights and conclusions, you find yourself unconsciously going, “Wow – that’s cool!” That’s what happened when I read the first few chapters of a new book by Vivek Ranadive and Kevin Maney, The Two-Second Advantage: How We Succeed by Anticipating the Future – Just Enough.

The book starts with the well-known story of Wayne Gretzky, the world-famous hockey player who always skated to where the puck was going to be. But they didn’t stop with this superficial story. Rather, they dug down in a most engaging way into the brain science behind Gretzky’s legendary success.

It seems there’s a growing body of research that suggests that we can access Gretzky-like performance by becoming so deeply engaged in our field of practice or expertise that we can subconsciously “chunk” this deep reservoir of knowledge and experience, and then can access it instinctively to quickly make decisions and take action – before anyone else even knows what’s going on.

Having laid a solid foundation for what creates expertise and killer performance in human beings, Ranadive and Maney then connect this with a development that is likely have a huge impact on innovation and corporate strategy: In the near future, “thinking” computers will emerge that will be able to digest reams of data, see patterns and make similar predictive decisions.

We’re already seeing the tip of the iceberg today, as sensors on many devices report on their condition and sophisticated computer control systems warn operators and owners before equipment damage can occur. In another case, a municipality in New Jersey has developed a sophisticated database that analyzes crime statistics, discerns patterns and predicts where crime is likely to occur next. Another example the authors cite is utility giant XCel Energy, which is working on “smart grid” technology that can predict where outages may be about to occur, so crews can be dispatched to replace equipment – before it fails – and power can be rerouted over other parts of its transmission network.

This book is very well written and engaging. It’s not a boring scientific treatise. The authors bring these trends and stories alive, and will provide you with much food for thought on how such technologies could be used to revolutionize your products and services in the coming years. I highly recommend The Two-Second Advantage!

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