Horizontal success

Gewijzigd op: 11-12-2002

Let me recount to you a friendly argument with an old colleague

'There is more value in the ability to ask the right question than the ability to give the right answer', I said

'Nonsense! If you don?t come up with the right answer how are we ever going to succeed, how will you succeed?' was the dismissive and vehement reply.

He was an accountant.

OK cheap joke but true story. I have had that conversation all too often with senior management in companies and consultancies alike, no matter which function they work in.

So what?s the background?

The background is one of companies struggling to grow, struggling to achieve breakthrough, struggling to retain talented people, struggling to keep shareholders happy, just struggling. It is one of repeated efficiency drives, incessant quality programmes, and products like new improved, now with something added and flatter, smaller, faster than the others.I

It?s a world of increment, a vertical approach.

The world of vertical thought is on of successive steps each one giving the right answer, leading to a place reinforced by models and patterns proven over time to be the best way. Is it any wonder when we are educated to be like that, when companies recruit the finest talent and immediately put the straight jacket on, when companies let process rule, when engineers and accountants run the company, unchecked and are advised by the history teachers, the consultants.

Each influence reinforces the other to produce the straightest, most repeatable, skyward pointing line possible.

Please stop.

Lie down.

It helps you to think horizontally, it?s the new company workout programme, it?s a yoga position to remove the stresses and strains of vertical thought. Now start practising.

Look at your world and start deconstructing, look for new patterns they are there. Start asking questions what if, so what?.. start brainstorming, start dreaming, start digging in new places, start hiring comedians, they?re good at the lateral, but just start.

And then?

ultrasound technologies used in hospitals become ?fetal foto? booths in shopping malls across the US.

And then?

silly stunts with work colleagues to keep yourself amused becomes Jackass The Movie and opens at the top of the US movie charts

You get the picture