Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Useful creativity

This book looks like a real winner.


The authors are consultants and their website offers a capsule case study that makes for interesting reading [Dead link; their home page is here.]

Going by my own experience, a great deal of wasted effort could be saved by their methods.

I once worked for a company that wasted nine months and big consultant fees brainstorming and refining new growth strategies. The “consensus” altenative was to enter a huge new (to us) market. The problem was that the market had entrenched competitors and slim margins. (But it was huge!)

A majority of the management team kept gravitating to that alternative as a solution for all our growth challenges. It took eight months to bring the real finance professionals into the loop. Once they crunched the numbers, the idea was dead.

The company wasted two strategic planning cycles because of their dilatory ways. In the first one, the mesmerizing idea of a huge new market kept them from dealing with the root problems in their core markets. The second cycle became a mad scramble to find a way to meet the profit shortfall created when the root problems worsened and the new growth failed to materialize.

MacArthur said that “councils of war breed timidity”. In business, this timidity can hide behind a mask of bold future possibilities. Brainstorming becomes a means to avoid confronting the hard realities of the present.

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