Ways To Kill Business Innovation Through Analysis

Want to kill a good innovative idea? Analyze it in some obviously logical yet inappropriate way. It would be murder but you are unlikely to get caught.  When thinking about this I always remember an old accounting example where we try to help the owner of a diner decide if it would be a good idea to add a rack of snacks to his cash wrap.  By working with $/foot and other wonderfully useful tools we prove that it would be an unprofitable innovation. Of course that ignores the fact that the snacks were add-on sales – wrong analysis, lost opportunity. Umar Hamique presents a great list of ways to inappropriately analyze innovative ideas. Traps you can easily fall into because the methods are logical, but the results are disastrous due to strategic and other circumstances that require a more open. Great quote of the piece: “The fundamental error is simple, managing is more than counting…” … Continue reading

Physics and Ideation: Creativity and Mismatched Socks

I’ve been thinking about lessons we can take from the physics community to more successfully develop ideas — and I’ve been wearing mismatched socks.  I blame Louisa Gilder and her wonderful exploration into the weird path physics took towards accepting entanglement over the past century. In 1964 John Bell lit a small fire at the foundations of modern physics using timber put in place by Einstein 30 years prior. It launched a few investigations but in truth mostly smoldered for another 17 years until he stated the implications of his theory a bit differently.  He spoke about Bertlmann’s Socks.  “Dr. Bertlmann likes to wear two socks of different colors. Which color he will have on a given foot on a given day is quite unpredictable. But when you see that the first sock is pink you can be already sure that the second sock will not be pink. Observation of … Continue reading

Physics and Ideation: When Does A Breakthrough Idea Become An Acceptable Idea?

Many business ideas die as much from neglect as from hostility.  Breakthrough concepts are dismissed by influencers who show disbelief when ideas do not fit their current world view. Ideas are left to stew and ripen outside mainstream business thought — only to burst on the scene and disrupt whole economies seemingly out of no-wheresville. We all have ways of ignoring breakthrough ideas, many demonstrated in The Age of Entanglement: When Quantum Physics Was Rebornby Louisa Gilder. Illustrating the winding road taken by the physics community in understanding entanglement, it shows how even the most brilliant can dismiss, ignore and argue against ideas that seem to break foundational beliefs. How can you avoid being blindsided by an idea you had all along? Breakthrough ideas challenge the status quo. Often the status quo does everything it can to brick over the door your idea is trying to open. The idea of … Continue reading

Executive Compensation And Unemployment | Mark Cuban’s Proposition

As this month’s unemployment figures were breaking (8.5%), Mark Cuban weighed in on fixing executive compensation. The ideas are related. As the discussion on executive pay continues, my message is simple.  Give credit to those executives who bust their asses to avoid layoffs except in cases where its an absolute necessity. Pay ‘em a premium vs those who cut jobs in profitable companies.  Look to private companies as guides to what a well managed company can accomplish, and how executives are compensated. Blogmaveric.com – Mark Cuban His post is a great reminder that in many ways layoffs are an admission of failure by executive management – the investment in human capital they made has not paid off and must now be written off.  This devastating blow to the emotional health of a firm and its knowledge base is not improved by an impression that the executive ranks are rewarded for causing so much pain. … Continue reading

The Slash and Burn Prune.

Is this an example of good pruning or bad? Of course the choices weren’t good. Either a severe prune or get yanked out by the roots. So this probably will turn out better for the bush.  Summer will tell. We are told budgetary cutbacks demand careful pruning. That cuts must be made strategically to ensure that the organization can survive recession as well as prepare for future growth. We are told to move resources towards the areas that are strategically important, cut off dead end projects, make hard decisions. In other words, do exactly what we should have been doing all along.  Problem is, if it was that easy then we would have been doing it all along.  Most budget cutbacks follow a familiar pattern:  First – nibbling.  Every department can cut a few percentage points off their budgets without making any strategic decisions about the business.  The survivors have to … Continue reading