Classic Examples of Clear or Unclear Thinking by top management teams to help your teams flex their range of thinking styles, develop their thinking skills, and avoid costly thinking errors
Part holiday, partly a creative investigation, we took a two week trip to California and Las Vegas. Travel broadens the mind, and, if receptive, inspires creativity. We examined what ideas we could bring back to the UK.
San Francisco, Yosemite National Park, Carmel, Big Sur, Hearst Castle, Los Angeles, Death Valley, Las Vegas, and the Grand Canyon all provided food for the mind and a wide variety of experiences. And innovative Customer Experiences (Customer Thinking) feature largely in this report. read more
The once highly-respected NHS has been lambasted in the media
recently as whistleblowers bravely came forward ... problem is the lack
of a viable customer feedback system.
The Pharma industry also has a major feedback problem, ... risk missing out on valuable ideas. We quote a potential block-buster being lost – a drug that could prevent the common cold occurring.
But the same problem occurs in many industries and organisations. We examine what goes wrong. read more
BP, and the big banks JP Morgan Chase and Standard Chartered, have recently provided classic examples of how experienced, high-intelligence teams can make simple but costly thinking errors, even at board level. We examine how this happens, so often.
Standard Chartered’s faux pas was to pass off money sanctions-breaking with Iran, Libya, etc as “clerical errors” - after already being fined $667m by the regulators. JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon initially played down the media fuss over his firm’s $6.2bn trading loss as a “tempest in a teapot”. BP claim that one of the main causes of its 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster was an “unfortunate misinterpretation of test data” … by a “group decision”. read more
We challenged visitors to take a one-minute test in Clear Thinking at the Learning Technologies exhibition at London’s Olympia ... only two out of more than 100 visitors provided clear answers ...
This test proved two important points. First: Clear Thinking is not as easy as most people believe. Second: Concept Thinking is something many people find unfamiliar and difficult, despite this Thinking Style being fundamental to clear thinking and innovation.
Both these points were graphically illustrated in the recently collapsed Vicky Pryce (speeding points) court trial in London. The jury was dismissed for failing to understand basic concepts ... read more
One problem – two telling examples. The difficulty many people have in focusing their minds on the facts – Facts Thinking – and being aware of assumptions being made. In HP’s case, they wrote off a massive £5.5bn after buying the British software company Autonomy for £7bn. A huge error of Facts Thinking on the value, and assumed fit, of their acquisition.
Plebgate was the name given to the hounding of Andrew Mitchell, former Government Chief Whip, ... read more.
Several ideas from David Cameron’s Government are visionary and well-intentioned but have encountered major problems with implementation. We examine why concepts have a nasty habit of failing to reach successful fruition … if badly thought out and planned.
We also ask if Mr Cameron’s Cabinet Team works as a Whole-Brain Team. An un-Balanced team is one of the key causes of ideas and plans going wrong. read more
The Government admitted a huge blunder in awarding the franchise for the West Coast Main Line to First Group, a decision that could have enormous ramifications for the credibility of other Government projects, such as HS2,
The reasons for the £40m climb-down have not been made clear but the suspicion must be that the entire bid process has become too complex for the DfT to handle. We examine where the thinking may have gone wrong. read more
After the PPI mis-selling scandal comes the Libor-fixing scandal, money-laundering scandal, and the Iran-sanctions busting scandal. The banks have been slated by the media virtually every day since Barclays was fined £290 million ... We examine the effects on the industry’s reputation and belated efforts to change and control what is seen as a ‘greed’ high-risk culture. read more
"PastyGate and other Government U-turn thinking
Government (flawed) thinking is again in the news. This time it is a series of embarrassing U-turns on the March budget after voters, the media, (and Tory party donors?) forced George Osborne to think again. Mr Osborne’s reputation as the master strategist took a battering, to quote one newspaper. Whilst Number 10 tries to work out what went wrong we examine their flawed thinking about this apparently ‘trivial’ matter. read more
"Petrol Panic, and How long is three months? UK Government thinking challenges" Mch-Apr 2012
Government thinking has taken a battering lately with a string of problems emerging, many self-inflicted, culminating in disastrous local election results. The petrol panic was quickly followed by Theresa May’s debacle over Abu Qatada’s deportation due to a ‘misunderstanding’ about the meaning of “three months”. We examine the thinking behind the thinking. ... read more
"How safe are cruise ships - after Costa
On 13th January the Carnival-owned cruise ship Costa Concordia hit rocks and partially sank off the Italian coast with the loss of life of 32 passengers and crew. The Italian captain reportedly deviated from the scheduled course and sailed too close to the island of Giglio. We extract valuable lessons for the Business and Safety Thinking on very large cruise ships. ... read more
"Should Marketing merge with
Sales? Hot topic gets Marketers steamed up" December
This is a critical organisation design and culture change story ... and a classic customer-focus and teamworking story. The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) has suggested that organisations should strongly consider merging their usually separate departments of Marketing and Sales ("Fusion"). The idea is that there needs to be much closer alignment between these two functions. However, this ‘merger’ will not be easy and may not be well received by either function. ... read more
"What is Design? Who can explain this key, but vague, concept?" November 2011
Design is a word that everybody uses, yet few people – even the design ‘experts’ - can define it or explain what it means. We believe that this vagueness of thinking is one of the key reasons why so many projects, plans, products, and communications go wrong. How else do you account for Prisoner vans being built too large to get through the gates of UK courts (just one of many farcical design errors reported in the media)? ... read more
“Hewlett Packard and Netflix get painful lesson in
Customer-Focused Strategic Change Communications” August -
Both HP and Netflix received similar bruising lessons in understanding how customers and investors could react to a sudden change in business strategy. In HP’s case the 25% collapse in share value was enough to cost the CEO his job. Netflix was a bit more alert and (fairly) quickly announced a u-turn. ... but it was the way they communicated their change of strategy that caused them massive problems. Customer Thinking was clearly lacking. ... read more
"The Customer's Viewpoint on Marketing and Selling" July 2011
We visited the Marketing Live trade exhibition and seminars at
Olympia, and as usual at exhibitions, found numerous examples of the
difficulty marketers and sales people have in seeing their
communications from the customer’s perspective. We saw, and heard, a
series of ‘obvious’ communications errors, even by the
‘experts’ in marketing. But none of the exhibitors were aware
of these errors, until we pointed them out. ... read more
The UK comes a horrifying 28th in the international league of pupil achievement in maths. Shanghai is top, Singapore second. But now something is being done to address the problem – we’re going to teach our children to THINK, which means learning about concepts in maths, science, and English. Concept Thinking. That’s what the Asian ‘tigers’ are good at ... read more
PPI, Payment Protection Insurance, became the latest mis-selling ‘scandal’ to hit media headlines after Lloyds Banking Group broke ranks and agreed to compensate customers at a cost of £3.2billion. Major rivals Barclays, RBS, and HSBC are expected to follow with provisions ranging from £1bn down to £270m. This Story is about Business Thinking taken to excess ... read more
Pixar Animation Studios has produced an amazing string of 11 blockbuster animation films such as Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, and Finding Nemo. This extraordinary success rate is not down to luck, it stems from an unusual culture and organisation design that fosters creativity – continuously ... and could work for any organisation. ... read more
Research has established that playing chess, and especially solving chess problems, significantly improves thinking skills. We identify which thinking skills, and how they are developed. We also describe a chess problem solving process equally valuable for resolving business problems. ... read more
Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, commissioned a review to investigate why there are so few women on boards of UK companies. He wanted to pre-empt the potential introduction of targets by the EU. We analyse this key issue of 'Balanced Boards - diversity of Thinking'. ... read more
Apple Inc co-founder Steve Jobs is in the news because of concerns that his illness may affect Apple’s business performance. We analysed the stories ... he is Whole-Brained, Clear Thinking, with a range of Leadership Styles ... read more
England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup suffered a shock 'humiliating' defeat when the winners of the 2018 and 2022 tournament-host competition were announced. The 2018 competition 'favourites' collected only one vote out of 22. We analyse what went wrong. … read more
FOR THE ANSWERS TO THESE TWO
Avoidable thinking errors
We have developed the world's first
system (and training course) to
help people flex their thinking range across 30 key
Thinking Styles and think clearly to minimise the
risk of costly mistakes.
Communications (especially Advertising)
go wrong due to:
What really affects
Clear thinking on culture, for example, is a major factor affecting business performance. The wrong culture almost toppled one FT-100 business.
For teams, we identified up to 30 factors that significantly affect performance.
Many factors interact and every organisation is
The workshops provide in-depth analysis (of these questions) and generate ideas for improving performance. From a single team to right across the organisation.