Follow Your Instincts. Improve Your Business.

March 2, 2012 in Culture, Ideas, Thought Leaders

Gerd Gigerenzer, a German social psychologist and pioneer in the study of intuitive thinking, has shown that when we use gut reactions to deal with complex choices, they’re usually as good—if not better—than detailed analysis.

Gigerenzer’s findings were mainly focused on rational thinking in the field of medicine. However, his experiment results are widely applicable to many areas of business, including product development and innovative marketing strategies.

Gut reactions help on the development end:

• To conserve resources. If less time is spent on each problem, think of what can be accomplished.

• To utilize brainstorming sessions. Feeding off of the input of others can produce quick decisions of a higher quality.

Gut reactions help on the marketing end:

• To benefit from the impulsive nature of consumers. If their guts tell them they need it now, you and your company benefit.

• To catch the market while it’s hot. Get your product noticed before its primary marketing niche has the chance to dwindle.

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Top 3 Reasons to Give All Employees Their Say

February 28, 2012 in Critical Success Factors, Culture, Team Improvement

The future of product development, creativity, and innovation does not lie with a small group of upper management individuals in your company. The future of your business cannot afford to be so limited in scope that it excludes the thoughts and innovative ideas of all other employees.

Many companies are learning to accept more insights from lower-level employees. The Top 3 Reasons these businesses are amassing all employee brainpower are:

1. Allowing for more than just the loudest voice to be heard.
By creating a system for “internal markets” or even games of betting anonymously on product development ideas, all individuals can give input without feeling silly or without being degraded for their opinions.

2. Acquiring knowledge from various areas of expertise.
Upper management can tend to be a small group of similarly minded people. By gathering input from all areas of the company, product development will benefit.

3. Giving employees a sense of belonging within the organization.
While you gain predictions on product pricing or sales figures, your employees are discovering that their input matters. Feeling involved will make your employees want to participate more in the future and will even instill in them company loyalty.

Source: Erick Schonfeld, “The Wisdom of the Corporate Crowd”, Business 2.0, September 2006, Pages 47–49

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Escaping the Commodity Quagmire Through Creativity

February 10, 2012 in Creativity, Culture, Differentiation

At its most fundamental, creativity is about problem-solving. Species solve the problem of survival by creating new versions of themselves. And companies solve the problem of survival by creating new products and services.

And it has been a big problem to solve. Essayist Peter Georgescu wrote on this subject in the October, 2007 edition of Fortune magazine (p. 74). In the essay, he discusses how over the past decade or so, companies have struggled against what he calls “the cancer of 21st century commerce,” which is the presence of fierce price competition as a way of differentiation to drive market share.

The problem with price competition is that it will, eventually, hit the point of diminished returns. At some point, companies will either have to learn how to make products and services stick out on the basis of what they do for consumers, or face one form of extinction or another.

The essay raises a hopeful note, which is that creativity, far from being an airy skill set, available only to the anointed, can be learned and taught. While it might at times be mysterious, it can also be planned for, cultivated and expected. And in Georgescu’s perspective, it must be for companies that wish to thrive through the rest of the century.

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