BCG Henderson Institute Publishes New Book on How to Build an Imagination Machine


BCG Henderson Institute Publishes New Book on How to Build an Imagination Machine

Informed by In-depth Research, The Imagination Machine Is a Guide to Mining the Power of Imagination and Creativity for Business Success

Dubai: Imagination in companies is needed now more than ever. According to analysis by Boston Consulting Group’s Henderson Institute (BHI), since the 1960s, the average number of companies exiting the Fortune 500 has increased by 36% annually. Competitive outperformance quickly fades. Rapid changes due to technology or other factors mean most companies risk stagnation. A recent BHI survey also found that while 97% of executives regard imagination as a critical business capability, 80% say it is hard to harness in large companies. 

In their new book, The Imagination Machine: How to Spark New Ideas and Create Your Company’s Future (Harvard Business Review Press), BHI’s Martin Reeves and Jack Fuller show how to harness imagination systematically to drive growth—especially in large, incumbent companies that may be facing stagnation. BHI also collaborated with Majarra and its platform Harvard Business Review Arabia to launch the book in Arabic and make it available to avid Arab readers.

The authors present a toolbox for cultivating imagination at the individual and collective level, and define concrete steps that business leaders can take to reform and revitalize their businesses. Every great business began with an effort of the imagination. Persistently great businesses are able to continuously access and utilize collective imaginative capacity, challenging existing mental models to discover new paths to growth, even while managing existing business models at scale. In the book, Reeves and Fuller share practical guidance for organizations to run and reinvent themselves over time.

The authors conducted over 100 interviews with business leaders, scientists, philosophers, neuroscientists, musicians, and artists and observed dozens of case studies for the book. They trace the evolution of imagination though history and science—from the dawn of mankind (with examples of hunter-gatherers who dreamed up scenarios for how best to trap their prey) to ancient Greek thinkers like Aristotle and Plato and Renaissance philosophers. They also delve into artificial intelligence and explore how AI can aid imagination efforts. As a way to challenge the mental models we all carry with us, they point to Charles Merrill’s industry-changing reimagination of banking inspired by his experience with supermarkets, and LEGO’s revolutionary mental model of a system of toys that emphasizes learning through play, among many other company examples.

The book describe how companies can turn ideas from tentative, counterfactual thoughts into new realities:

The Seduction: How to open yourself up to surprises

The Idea: How to generate new ideas

The Collision: How to rethink your idea based on real-world feedback

The Epidemic: How to spread an evolving idea to others

The New Ordinary: How to turn your novel idea into an accepted reality

The Encore: How to repeat the process—again and again.

“Harnessing imagination entails dealing with the mind, action, and their interaction. It is not only about individual creativity, but how minds can interact, creating collective imagination and momentum to turn ideas into new realities,” the authors write. With The Imagination Machine, they have created a provocative, fascinating handbook to spark ideas and growth in organizations.

For more information on The Imagination Machine, including organizational diagnostics, and to visit a 3D virtual “napkin gallery” with sketches and prototypes of early-stage ideas such as the original drawing of Twitter, the first LEGO brick, the first computer mouse, and others, please visit

To arrange an interview with one of the authors in English or Arabic, please contact Eric Gregoire at +1 617 850 3783 or


The BCG Henderson Institute is the Boston Consulting Group’s think tank, dedicated to exploring and developing valuable new insights from business, technology, economics, and science by embracing the powerful technology of ideas. The Institute engages leaders in provocative discussion and experimentation to expand the boundaries of business theory and practice and to translate innovative ideas from within and beyond business. For more ideas and inspiration, sign up to receive BHI INSIGHTS, our monthly newsletter, and follow us on Twitter: @BCGHenderson


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Majarra offers the best Arabic content on the internet, provided by a network of websites accessible through a single subscription, single sign-on. The network currently includes Harvard Business Review Arabia, MIT Technology Review Arabia, Stanford Social Innovations Review Arabia, Popular Science Arabia, and Nafseyati. Majarra also owns “Man Hom,” the only Arabic service offering professional profiles and company data. By investing and working to bring about a step-change in the availability of quality Arabic content online, Majarra seeks to contribute to the region’s economic and social growth and development, and Arab revival of Arab, from ocean to ocean. 

In a joint announcement in March 2021, Majarra’s executive chairman Abdulsalam Haykal and CEO Ammar Haykal laid out the “vision of a better, more useful, and more engaging Arabic web.” “Majarra will become a catalyst to unlocking the Arabic web, ushering in a new dawn for an industry that is crucial to progress in our region.” added the company leaders in their statement. “Business models that rely only on advertising revenue and audience size feed a spiral of lower-quality content. This is a massive lost opportunity for our societies.” Majarra, they added, “is a commitment to what we can do together to change the state of Arabic content online, and to what we can be together as a result.”