To Heck With Conventional Wisdom

Nov 22, 2002

By George Anderson

Now is no time to be sticking with conventional wisdom if you want to succeed
in business, argues Gary Hamel, founding director and chairman, Strategos
in the December 2002 issue of Fast Company.

Mr. Hamel writes, “Conventional wisdom says to get back to basics. Conventional wisdom says to cut costs. Conventional Wisdom is doomed. The winners are the innovators who are making bold thinking an everyday part of doing business.”

Challenging times call for radical thinking, according to Mr. Hamel. He defines radical thinking as a process that has the power to change customer expectations, the basis for competition and/or industry economics.

Mr. Hamel gives Kohl’s as an example of radical thinking that changes the basis for competition. He compares traditional department store thinking which is to devise ways to keep customers in the store as long as possible to that of Kohl’s. The retailer’s chief executive, R. Lawrence Montgomery, says, “Our whole philosophy is to get shoppers to spend less time in our stores and buy more.”

Moderator’s Comment: Is Gary Hamel correct about the
need for unconventional approaches to business? How do companies create business
environments that are supportive of radical thinking?

If you like Mr. Hamel’s radical way of thinking, we recommend
you read his book, Leading the Revolution: How to Thrive in Turbulent Times
by Making Innovation a Way of Life
( Harvard Business School Press, 2000
). [George
Anderson – Moderator

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