Tackling the Uncertainty Paradox – An Introduction

Uncertainty can drive opportunity. Uncertainty can also drive you mad and destroy your company. Bummer. Bill Welter (Adaptive Strategies), Kay Plantes (Plantes Company) and I have been discussing how the uncertainty caused by stronger, less predictable and more frequent disruptions can be as large a source of opportunity as it is a threat. We’ve been considering why such uncertainty tends to freeze some and free others. And we’ve been thinking about where companies and individuals can find solid traction for progress even when they feel trapped by uncertainty. The three of us have worked with a wide range of organizations from the very large Fortune 500 to the very small entrepreneurial start-up and we tend to agree that standing still is about the only option NOT open to you today. You are either planning your moves or circumstance will do the moving. Sound scary? It should, but maybe in more … Continue reading

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

A Reminder Of Key Principles | Inside Drucker’s Brain

I’ve read a lot of Peter F. Drucker over the years, so it’s nice to find a great distillation of his ideas in one place.  Just finished Inside Drucker’s Brain by Jeffrey A. Krames and it is full of gems to remind us of Drucker’s no nonsense style. For business wonks who have never read Drucker directly, you will find the concepts he developed very familiar. For those of us who have – it is a great, short summary of his evergreen concepts. The management concepts he talks about can be eye-opening for you no matter where you live in an organization. Life and Death Decisions — For Drucker, the most important Life and Death decisions are people decisions. Who to promote, who to fire/demote, and each manager’s scope of responsibility. After people decisions came the priority decisions on resource allocation. Executive management likes to think that they control the really … Continue reading

Have You Fallen Into The Marketer’s Gap Of Despair?

Falling into the gap of despair leads to expensive mistakes in marketing communication at the same time when large investments in product development should be made. During a downturn this gap grows swallowing and destroying marginal products and services. Unfortunately, it can also grow to include entire product categories. Have you fallen into the gap of despair?  Are you Average? Not Cheap enough? Not Good enough? Not Necessary enough? Not Desirable enough? Looking to your marketing department to fix your problems with high falutin’ yet distracting conceptual humor? Then your product is in the the gap.  While marcom campaigns can pull a product and even a category out of the gap – this only works if there are real customer needs/desires and real product features/benefits to tie onto.   The good news? Surviving a fall into the gap is possible. We’ll talk about strategies that can work in upcoming posts.