Creative Response To The Uncertainty Paradox

Newsweek’s declaration that the recession is over and long lines at auto dealers seems to have upped feelings of angst in many circles. Reactions from ‘yeah sure’ to ‘How did I miss it’ to ‘yipee,’ indicate that maybe not everyone is on the same page. Which really shouldn’t be a surprise given folks disagree on the state of the economy when times are good or bad. So what do you do when you don’t know, can’t know? I wanted to pull together a few pieces of conversation both directly and indirectly related to the Uncertainty Paradox that struck a chord for me over the past week or so. A big issue when you’re stuck in a period of extreme uncertainty is how to take the next step forward. Kay Plantes in dealing with business model innovation brought up Tide’s experiment with Tide Basic, a product introduction with a reduced feature … Continue reading

Are You A Business Uncertainty Explorer?

Sounds of the sea. Columbus stands on deck, referring to parchment, sextant and sky. First Mate: “Columbus, what’s that solid blue piece of paper?” Columbus: “That’s my map!” And The Crew Sings: “We are lost, we are lost, we are lost…” The Columbus in this sketch from my days in college radio goes on to say that none should worry, “for we’ll draw the land bits in as we find them.” When you live in the Uncertainty Paradox you are a Business Uncertainty Explorer. Much of what we do to manage business uncertainty involves collecting and sifting data about consumers, competitors, trends, politics, technology – the list goes on and on. You can look at each bit of data as incremental detail that needs placing on your planning Map. Each ‘sighting’ (LAND HO!) adds to our understanding of the economic and marketplace landscape. Comments in the introductory Uncertainty Paradox post … Continue reading

Getting In The Innovation Groove

I’ve been sitting here bouncing to the sounds of Kid Sheik’s Storyville Ramblers on an old piece of vinyl and realized I have an admission to make. Nothing will kill your business faster than innovation. The record hisses and pops. Two kinds can do you in.  Effective innovation by someone else or unfettered, rabid innovation by you. The former will happen no matter what, so you have to react (preferably proactively) and, uh-oh, innovate. The old record only has a few plays left in it. It cackles and hisses, displaying 30 some odd years of use since I picked it up down in New Orleans after seeing the Sheik at some hall in my youth. Funny thing about vinyl, the wear it displays is a reminder of enjoyment past and a reminder that something new is due. Yup, we’ve all got to move on to the next thing sooner or … Continue reading

Breaking Down Template Thinking – Differentiation

What started as high concept MBA territory and led to today’s templates and $200 boilerplate, strategic business plans have been adopted throughout organizations of all sizes. Unfortunately this infiltration often becomes filler for three ring binders (or misplaced PDF files) and a neglected memory until the next cycle – instead of the dynamic driver it can be. Template thinking is often the cause for this mismatch. Choose any of the hundreds of outlines available and you create the need to fill in every bullet point with a jargon filled sentence about how your company is going to be so much better than the competition. Of course we’re going to outflank competition through the leveraging of of superior human intellectual capital and technological innovativeness. Of course we’re going to increase market share without price discounting by increasing emotional value and value-added strategic alliance formation. Of course we’re going to meet customer … Continue reading

The Ostrich Strategy

Sometimes an industry faces a long term threat that appears so overwhelming that the long term strategy appears to involve sticking management’s collective heads’ in the sand, hoping the problem goes away. Now, it turns out that an ostrich does not stick its head in the sand. An ostrich is smarter than that. An ostrich learns to lay low, head to the ground, blending in with the scenery until it is time to jump up and run. Or jump up, kick and run. Or bite, kick and run. An ostrich keeps its options open. Many strategic plans appear to do the same thing with long term threats. The threat gets mentioned, maybe a study group is formed, maybe a bit of research is assigned. True believers in the importance of the long term threat might even be given a ’special project’ to concentrate on. Truth be told, this is just … Continue reading