“I think that without owning something over an extended period of time, like a few years, where one has a chance to take responsibility for one’s recommendations, where one has to see one’s recommendations through all action stages and accumulate scar tissue from mistakes and pick oneself up off the ground and dust oneself off… one learns a fraction of what one can.” – Steve Jobs
Organisations face a plethora of seemingly intractable challenges before them. Many organisations reach out to external management consultants to help them with these challenges. The consultants in turn typically engage in:
– analysis by ‘benchmark’
– recommendation by ‘analogy’
– implementation by ‘fiat’
However, such an approach cannot, and will not, help organisations deal with these challenges, no matter how fervently the external consultants thrust it upon their clients:
1. it results in incremental ideas for improvement, at best:
– the ‘expert’ consultants tend to be entrenched in the same ‘industry mindset’ that created the problems in the first place
– if the consultants recommend a bold solution and it doesn’t work out, their ‘expert’ reputation is likely to be tarnished
– if the consultants recommend something incremental and safe, whether it works or not, their ‘expert’ reputation is likely to remain intact
2. it instils little buy-in and ownership of these ideas in people who are charged with implementing them:
– it makes those closest to the ‘coal face’ feel disempowered and disengaged
– it fosters resentment and a lack of trust towards the consultants
– it leads to a lack of genuine commitment
3. it inhibits the organisation becoming an adaptive, innovative and creative ‘learning organisation’:
– things are done to people, not by people
– new ways of thinking and doing are not formed into habits that permeate the whole organisation
– leadership remains reliant on external resources
What organisations require now is a new approach to solving the challenges they face. One capable of creating truly innovative solutions, without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
‘There’s a good framework for thinking. It is physics.’ – Elon Musk
Musk is the only person in history to have built three multibillion dollar companies from scratch – Paypal, Tesla and SpaceX. One reason he cites is his ability to think through a problem from first principles – the approach physicists use to deal with mind-bending subjects like quantum mechanics.
With my background in physics and management consultancy, I have developed a unique approach that I call ‘innovative problem solving… from first principles’:
1. visualise, quantify and articulate problem
2. break problem down from first principles into its ‘fundamental truths’
3. determine what is happening and why
4. create innovative ideas from first principles that could produce desired outcome… but that still take account of the ‘fundamental truths’
5. select idea(s) that would produce desired outcome most satisfactorily
It is my strong belief that key talent within an organisation, rather than ‘experts’ from outside, are the best people to learn, apply and embed this approach in the organisation.
To see how, just scroll below.
– Mani Sandher