Physics and Ideation: Ways To Unleash Creativity

Confusion about when to praise, when to probe, and when to argue with an idea is killing creativity in business. And the scary thing is some of the most innovative tools being put in place to increase the flow of ideas are just as effective at killing the spirit as in the old days of rapid confrontation. I’ve been thinking about this as I read The Age of Entanglement: When Quantum Physics Was Reborn By Louisa Guilder. Here key ‘conversations’ are reconstructed between some of science’s greatest. You get an inside peek at the way ideas can be had, proposed and defended in a very rigorous mathematical and experimental environment.  What connection is there between defending an idea about quantum physics and a business process? Uncertainty. Now I’m not a scientist, nor do I play one on TV.  But I do have quite a bit of experience shepherding breakthrough ideas … Continue reading

Fear, Banking and Bring On The Wolves

Could the current financial crises be explained by a lack of lions, tigers and bears? Could real fear be the key attribute that drives your next success? Ideas from strange places: I found myself asking these questions as I read “Where the Wild Things Were,” a gripping account of predator/prey dynamics. Continue reading

What Doorways Have You Bricked Over?
Part II: The $20 Million Hurdle.

Rules of thumb often have unintended consequences. Several large organizations I’ve worked for instituted a $20 million in revenue hurdle. (The $ figure was sometimes higher, sometimes lower — but always a significant percentage of existing revenue.) The thought process is pretty straight forward: Why bother with an idea if it can’t make a meaningful contribution to overall revenue. In one fell swoop upper management gets to weed out ‘insignificant’ ideas and focus their attention on ‘ideas that matter’ and their golf game. Problem is – It is very difficult to get a consensus on the revenue potential of a game changer. Net Result? – The revenue hurdle takes on a life of its own.  It becomes shorthand at every level of the organization. Ideas that masquerade as innovation (but are actually just obvious, competitively predictable business moves) float to the top.  

Open Source Banking – Dutch Widening The Crack?

I like the idea of open source banking.   Today’s roiling financial markets are creating opportunities for technology and new capital sources to rewrite how money flows.  By pushing for an open source model we could end up with advantages driven by transparency, networking, and robust testing of business models. So what happens when banks actually bid on your savings account?  Looks like the Dutch are about to find out.  The auction model is being tested by (In Dutch, unfortunately, here is a bit more information.) You post how much you are willing to save and banks ‘bid’ on your business.

Are Most Customers Simply Not Cool Enough
For Your Advertising Agency?

Infomercials are the bane of most advertising agencies.  We can’t believe the things work. They make the skin crawl with their crass, carnival like sales pitch.  …And they work like gangbusters. Years ago, local markets were covered with terrible, grating ads for local car dealerships.  Pitches that embarrassed Detroit and Madison Avenue alike. Took the wonderful brand and sold it like magic ointment at the state fair. …And they worked for the dealership like gangbusters. I once sat over coffee with an artist friend who was complaining about having to ‘touch-up’ a greeting card we knew as ‘The Pansy Cart’ at Hallmark. “It’s old fashioned — I want to be working on bigger things — It will never go in my portfolio…”  …And it sold like gangbusters. So often we trick ourselves into thinking old fashioned ways of doing business don’t make any sense simply because we don’t like the … Continue reading