Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Traditional ways of thinking are imploding corporations - time to move to collaborative thinking.

Go Figure – Is this a new art form!
                                                     By Roger La Salle

Is the customer king?
There is an old saying, the customer is always right.  Though this may be a bit extreme, by and large it is a good way to run a business, especially a business with a wide span of reach and even more so for one that is in an extremely tough competitive market.

Should we ignore the customer – not likely?
Some businesses seem to have the management mindset that they have thought of everything and that nobody could possibly tell them “how to suck eggs”.  One example immediately comes to mind from many years ago when I was production manager of a major electronics manufacturer in Melbourne, and when radio paging was the next big thing, long before mobile phones.

The paging group within this multinational conglomerate gave an information session for all interested staff. Many people attended.  After the presentation the group asked if there were any questions to which one bright spark asked if he could suggest a new way of developing the market for pagers.  Unfortunately, this hit a nerve with the presenter and they were very quick to rebuke the person with the retort, “there is not a thing we have not already considered”. As they say – “believe it or not”.

This is not a lone example
To cite another example of sheer ignorance and overwhelming self-indulgence, some time in the past I had a particular issue with a very expensive ballpoint pen that I prided myself in using.  After I precisely identified the problem I then went on to find a great solution that would be highly patentable.  With this idea in mind I thus made contact with the overseas based company with a view to offering my idea, their response astounded me:

“We do not take ideas from outside the company”
Yet another example is with the major so called “expert” high profile international business publication who have much the same view and refuse to publish any material that they did not themselves internally generate. So much for suggesting to them how to split the atom - sorry we will not consider this breakthrough technology because we did not think of it.

The reader may detect that I am writing this article in frustration having just completed a phone call with one of our very biggest fast food companies.  The bottom line is that I have conceived an idea for a smartphone app that could go viral and may well be a real profit spinner for the business in question. Further it will serve as a marvellous tool for promoting new products.  At the end of the phone call I was told by the company that “They have a written international policy of not accepting or listening to any ideas from outside their business. If they want something new they will go to the market and tender for a supplier.”

This is amazing on two counts:
1. They have a stated policy of not listening to the market.
2. How can they go out to the market for something they do not even know exists?

To cite an American saying becoming more popular by the day – "go figure"                                                             

Roger La Salle's experiences are becoming a regular occurrence and are confirmed by the research undertaken by Deloitte and written about by John Hagal. John writes about Knowledge Stock versus Knowledge Flows. The latter is integral for innovation to flourish into the future. John states "What we know today is becoming redundant. Knowledge Stocks are depreciating," in his co-written book, The Power of Pull.

The world is evolving at a frightening pace through technological advances and to have some normality of control we can no longer work in isolation dependant on past knowledge. We need to connect outside our work sphere and challenge the norms because the answer is more likely to come from an illogical space in the future.

Teresa Mitchell, facilitator of Coworx, the coworking space for collaborative thinking.

Roger La Salle, is the creator of the "Matrix Thinking"™ technique and is widely sought after as an international speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development. He is the author of four books, Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies both in Australian and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panelist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the "Chair of Innovation" at “The Queens University" in Belfast. Matrix Thinking is now used in more than 26 countries and licensed to Deloitte, one of the world’s largest consulting firms.

John Hagel III is a business and technology thinker who has authored multiple business strategy publications - most recently The Power of Pull - and advises some of the world's largest companies via the Deloitte Centre for the Edge.

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