Lessons from the Bell Curve

Strategy and innovation, the highest functions of reason and creativity, combine careful planning with improvisation—and the ability to turn on a dime.

In my last column, I quoted the definition of strategy given by Richard Rumelt, a professor of business strategy at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. To paraphrase: the essence of strategic thinking is speculation. The key word is “speculation.” Success usually appears during periods of stability, when the systems we have designed are producing the outcomes we desire. During these prosperous times, we may forget the earlier stages when we planted the seeds of future opportunity. There was uncertainty, soul searching, and trial and error—a certain fumbling around. A mathematician friend of mine came up with the phrase “data momentum” to describe most of what happens in our lives: 90% is driven by what happened yesterday, by forces that have already been set in motion. Continue reading “Lessons from the Bell Curve”

Creating new worlds vs. the myth of problem solving

The term problem-solving assumes you are adopting someone else’s view of  the world.

Despite its popularity, the current obsession with problem solving is way off the mark. Ditto finding out what your customers want and giving it to them. This is fine for fine tuning and tweaking what already works, but it’s not what changes the world. Not even close.

As Henry Ford reportedly said, “If I’d listened to my customers, I would have invented a faster horse.” Continue reading “Creating new worlds vs. the myth of problem solving”