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(Edward de Bono)

Edward de Bono

The originator of ?Lateral Thinking?, Edward de Bono shows the way to go beyond ?Competition?... Sur/Petition, means ?seeking above?, creating your own race, (?competition? ? seeking together ? running in the same race). de Bono says competition in business is necessary, much the same as water is necessary for soup, but not sufficient.

Integrated values ? the third phase of business, first being manufacturing / production driven, second competition driven ? are not about just product value but conceptual value. Example - ?living benefits? idea of Prudential insurance company (while traditionally, life is insured for benefit after death!) through lateral thinking principles.

De Bono questions fundamentals of business like efficiency, problem solving, information analysis saying businesses traditionally considered improvements unnecessary ? with the adage ? If it ain?t broken, don?t fix it? , but Japanese with continuous improvement techniques ? edged the Americans out from the automotive industry (with fuel efficient cars). Competitor information itself does not lead to action, it has to be followed by conceptual thinking, which analysis cannot provide.

Business Fashions ? cost cutting works up to a point. If the competition reacts fast the advantage is lost. Too much of it can mean lost opportunities & even wastage. Profitable cost cutting requires a lot of creativity. Restructuring, M&A are buzzwords which have resulted in many acquisitions in search of synergy but ended up in losses (acquisition of JW Thomson and O & M by WPP). When the market stops growing, companies get into trouble.

Quality approach which insists on product/service quality also has a flaw ? it does not address the basic issues ? quality of what? quality for what? Even the best manual typewriter went out of business once the electronic version was created, proving that a higher quality product / service does not insure survival.
Organizations fall into complacency trap ? comfortable, cozy, and arrogant and lack of vision. The dangers are slow drift, decline, unused potential and opportunities.

Procedures & routines ? are important, because brain sees what it is trained to see, but to go beyond the obvious ? we need a system like ?Six Thinking Hats? allowing people to focus on their feelings. Information ? traditional analysis suggests that all ideas must come from information but it is not sufficient. Raw information is useless without the concepts that allow us to make use of that information. Analysis & Logic ? break down when complex systems are involved. Interactive, self-organizing systems cannot be broken into logical individual parts, without losing their meaning. Business environment, depends on circumstances, perceptions, competitive behavior and logic based projections can be very wrong.

Creativity ? everybody talks about creativity but very few accept it as a logical necessity. Traditionalists maintain ? because every good (creative) idea is correct in hindsight and can be presented logically, use of logic itself can generate creative ideas. This is a fallacy, this passive approach to creativity is not correct and we can do a lot, through ?green hat? thinking to generate many alternatives.

A classic example of Sur/Petition is Sony?s handling of the ?walkman? concept. What started as a natural requirement (for small things in Japan ? due to lack of space) was converted into a major opportunity by follow through development of a major market in the US, leveraging the need of the US customers for continuous entertainment. This combination of initial concept with vigorous follow through is the essence of Sur/Petition.

Value monopolies have been attained / maintained through ? Physical uniqueness, technological uniqueness, sheer domination, cost of entry, Brand Image etc., All these drivers have been / are of essentially housekeeping importance (required essentials ? lack of which wwill be glaring but by themselves are not sufficient to excel in business). Sur/Petition goes far beyond housekeeping ? it is the uniqueness in the value being provided. There are 3 sources for the PLUS (the added value) aspect of Sur/Petition. Integrated Values, Serious Creativity and Concept R & D.

Integrated values are based on the interplay of customer, product and the environment. For example the gifting of vouchers for shopping at High End Luxury shops ? by differentiating the hard earned extra money, the value addition is made explicit to employees .

Other example is the change in treatment of suppliers by the manufacturers. Historical ?enemy? feeling has given way to ?partnership?. Japanese (some American) companies, share technical know-how with suppliers to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of their offerings.

Valuefacture ? is the deliberate process of creating values and helps the business focus on ?manufacture of values? critical to Sur/Petition. There are many opportunities ? Pharma Industry ? by creating more market for elderly by keeping them alive longer, chemical industry can think of new pesticides, biodegradable materials.

The value drivers are convenience, quality of life, self importance (perceived by the customers) and distraction value of the offering (TV ? Marx would have called it the opium of the masses). Values can be of many types ? perceived vs. real, gateway value, context value, synergy value, security value, appeal value etc., It is important for the business to consciously apply ?yellow hat thinking? to identify benefits and match them to end users. Value notation, Serious Creativity, Concept design and R&D are the tools which help the business attain success through Sur/Petition.

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